A short history of ballet before the advent of pointe is climaxed by a discussion of its origin which is attributed to Taglioni. Pointe work began in the 1800s and according to widespread opinion created the art of ballet. With each great ballerina a new dimension was added to the repertoire of pointe from simple releves to turns to the complicated patterns demanded of ballerinas today. Unfortunately, Walter Terry has vastly limited his subject to the details of pointe and in his interviews with Margot Fonteyn, Maria Tallchief, Nora Kaye, Melissa Hayden and Allegra Kent, he has asked only one question. ""What kinds of pointes do you prefer and how do you break them in?"" The dancer's advice to young aspirants is given a minor role and in some cases, not even recorded. Conspicuously absent from these pages are the dancers' concepts of their art, biographical material and most vital -- the development of ballet as an aesthetic phenomenon, verbal descriptions of dance steps can only interest the serious student of pointe, and then only in terms of technique.