NTU student designs revolutionary ballet shoes aimed to make pointe ballet painless

Painful ballet could be a thing of the past thanks to an innovative pair of ballet shoes created by a product design student.

Felicity Van Der Straaten says ballerinas should not have to worry about any long-term injuries the dance may cause.

The 22-year-old Nottingham Trent University student, who started practising pointe ballet at 14, says the technique has injured her feet, which motivated her to design a product that aims to minimise foot injuries.

“I wanted to create something that helped in the long run with health problems,” said Felicity, originally from Enfield, London, who’s studying BA Product Design at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment.

“I did pointe more as a hobby, rather than professionally and can’t imagine the injuries that professional dancers get because they can spend up to 20 hours a week wearing pointe shoes.

“My product feels like a pointe shoe, somewhat looks like a pointe shoe, but it doesn’t ruin your feet and there are no long-term effects.

“I think that my product could make a really positive impact on the industry.”

The ballet shoes designed by Felicity are set to go on public display this month (Credits: Pushpita-Chatterjee)

Part of the classical ballet technique, the pointe technique involves the dancer supporting his or her entire body weight on the tips of fully extended feet within pointe shoes.

Felicity’s ballet shoes work by slipping the attachment on top of a normal ballet slipper, turning the slipper into a pointe shoe.

This pointe shoe can then be used for training.

Foot injuries such as bunions, cuts, scarring, crushing, and moving of foot bones will be prevented, Felicity claims, by the shoe not having a back which pushes the foot further into the front of the shoe, as well as having more space for the toes.

Called ‘Releve’, the shoes would ideally last 3-6 months, meaning dancers would only have to purchase 2-4 pairs a year.

Grant Baker, Senior Lecturer in Product Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Felicity has shown how being passionate about something and identifying the gaps in that field can lead to a revolutionary product that could change the lives of so many.

“Her product will allow ballerinas to perform the dance they love most, without having to worry about any long-term health issues that may come with the job, making their experience more enjoyable and worthwhile.”

Felicity’s product is set to go on public display for the 2022 Nottingham Trent University art and design Student Showcase.

The show gives final-year art and design students the chance to exhibit their talent and is one of the greatest of its kind in the country, with subjects covering product design, fashion, architecture, furniture design, theatre design, fine art and more.

Lead image: Pushpita Chatterjee

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