Toe dancing was a big part of the romantic era in ballet. The romantic era was all about pushing the limits of reality. What better than to make the dancers appear to be floating on air. Dancers were often suspended by wires to make them float and this turned into toe dancing. At first dancers used their own foot strength. This was in the early 1800s and soon after toe dancing became mandatory for all female dancers.
The first shoes were satin shoes without heels and had square tipped toes. These were similar to the shoes that were in style at the time. They were also similar to what acrobats wore at the time. Ballerinas tries many different things to improve the shoes and make toe dancing easier. They used leather soles with extra stitching to reinforce the shoes. The shoes were often wrapped with muslin, felt or cardboard. Ribbons were also used to add strength to the ankles. It wasn’t until 1880 that the first commercial blocked shoes were introduced.