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Student creates new shoes for pointe ballet

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

Ballet web.jpg
Felicity Van Der Straaten with her prototype
Picture by Pushpita Chatterjee

Student creates new shoes for pointe ballet

Painful ballet could be a thing of the past thanks to an innovative pair of ballet shoes created by a product design student, writes student journalist Rucsandra-Ioana Moldoveanu.

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.”

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.

Ballet web 2.jpg
Picture by Pushpita Chatterjee

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 has been 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.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards). It was the University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with over 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 4,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries.

    In the past 15 years, NTU has invested £450 million in tools, technology and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2019 UCAS UG acceptance data) It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021).

    NTU is 4th globally (and 3rd in the UK) for sustainability in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Student creates new shoes for pointe ballet

Published on 31 May 2022
  • Category: Press office; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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