Ballet first appeared in the Italian Renaissance courts during the 13th century as entertainment for nobles. Ballet began without tutus or pointe shoes. The dancers wore the fashionable clothing of the time and even encouraged audience members to join in toward the end.
When Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France, she arranged for ballet to be performed at the French court. She held festivals, ballet de cour, which became popular. The French influence continued with King Louis XIV, who having grown up seeing ballet, popularized and standardized ballet. A technique and syllabus was created and ballet became an art form requiring disciplined training by professionals.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the tutu and pointe shoes were introduced to ballet. In 1832, the ballet “La Sylphide” was created to showcase Marie Taglioni’s en pointe dancing. Until then, pointe shoes were considered an ungraceful stunt. The tutu premiered in Paris, France in 1842 to highlight and bring greater appreciation to a ballerina’s difficult leg and foot work.