Rosin is a transparent or translucent mass, made from the a hydrocarbon secretion of many plants, commonly the pine tree, called Resin.
Not getting it? No problem.
Do you know that secrete that you find on tree-chumps, that sticky, sometimes gummy orange something that nobody really know why’s there? That’s resin. We don’t really no why plants and trees make it, but we are happy they do – resin is used in many labs for its’s chemical constituents, it’s used in incenses, perfumes, it’s even an important material in nail polish and bowling balls!
But hold on – isn’t this tools of the trade: Ballet? Yes indeed – I’m getting there.
Rosin (mind the vowel) is a solid form of the natural resin – the yellow stuff coming out from the trees. It has been undergoing some distillation to get rid of terpene components, and is mostly known for the use to the bows of any stringed instrument (like the violin, for example) because it adds friction to the hairs of the bow, hence increasing the vibration of the strings, giving a stronger sound.
But let’s get to the ballet dancers, shall we?
Whenever the linoleum floor (or other floors, for that matter) is to slippery for the dancer, he applies crushed rosin to his shoes. The rosin adds friction between the shoe and the floor – just like it adds friction between the bow and the strings of the violin, hence increasing the grip of the feet. That gives us the opportunity to perform the jumps and moves we need to do, without worrying that our feet will slip while dancing.
Crushed rosin is found in all major theaters stages and ballet-studios. Usually, it is divided onto a tray of some kind, so that the dancer can just easily step onto the tray, and voila, the shoes are covered with a thin layer of rosin.
And that’s really all there is to it. It might not seem as a big deal, but there are dancers that refuses to dance without applying rosin to their (pointe)shoes. It is just one of those things we use, that might not be as commonly known outside our world. It just one of those Tools of the trade…
Picture used with permission from it’s owner, Paul Pomeroy. All rights reserved. Check out his great photographies!