In en Puntas, a video installation by artist Javier Prez, ballerina Amlie Sgarra does an amazing dance en pointe on top of a grand piano while wearing a pair of pointe shoes that have been modified with sharp kitchen knives to extend past the toe box. As if dancing on your toes for a long time wasn’t hard enough, Sgarra also has to keep her balance on a thinner platform from an even higher height.
It’s hard to believe that someone could even stand on the shoes, which could be dangerous. When Sgarra scrapes the sharp blades across the piano on purpose, it is both exciting and scary to watch her keep her balance and even leave her mark. As the elegant dancer tiptoes closer to the edge, the performance becomes even more intense and hard to look away from.
The ballerina’s impressive feats of strength and balance are eventually accompanied by her cries of pain as the strain of time and physical exhaustion weigh down on her overworked toes. As Sgarra pushes herself to be perfect in her performance, the audience feels sorry for her. She is both pretty and broken at the same time. “[Prez] shows the weaknesses that become the lines between seemingly incompatible ideas like beauty and cruelty, fragility and violence, culture and nature, or life and death,” says the project.