OUR DANCERS DEPEND ON THEIR SHOES AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THEM EN POINTE DURING THIS WINTER SEASON PRODUCTION OF CINDERELLA.
Pointe shoes create a beautiful optical illusion but their journey from the factory to the stage is lengthy and arduous.
One pair of pointe shoes costs £40. By donating to our Pointe Shoe Appeal, you will help keep our dancers on their toes.
MADE BY HAND
Each dancer has a special relationship with the fitter and maker that crafts her pointe shoes. They are measured by the fitter for the perfect shoe, which are then made by hand from layers of fabric pasted together creating the ‘box’ at the tip of the shoe and satin (from Scotland no less!), leather and cotton. Layers of glue seal everything together. The dancer’s own maker’s stamp is imprinted on the sole.
The shoes are still not quite ready to wear in the studio. Each dancer must sew on elastic and ribbons, and prepare her shoes ready for rehearsals and performances. This can include cutting off satin or stitching the tip of the shoe to prevent slipping, removing some of the sole and coating the inside with Shellac to give the shoe longevity (the same substance used in nail varnish!).
Most professional dancers don’t begin pointe work until they are around 14 years old, after years of conditioning and strengthening their feet. For a dancer to be strong at pointe work her lower back, lumbar, pelvis and calves must also be in optimum condition.
With approximately 600 pairs of pointe shoes being used during the winter season tour, the dancers pack numerous pairs to last the duration. ‘Shoe skips’ travel with them to each theatre. When travelling, our dancers take five or six pairs in their hand luggage just in case their suitcase goes missing in transit!
SIDE OF STAGE
Dancers often use more than one pair of shoes during a performance. For roles like Cinderella, each of the three Acts demands a different style of dancing and a different type of shoe. Cinderella usually begins the ballet with well-worn, softer pointe shoes but has a much harder pair waiting in the wings for the taxing pas de deux (duet) in Act II.
THE END OF A SHOE’S LIFE
Perspiration and technical choreography mean the shoes’ fabric layers become too malleable to safely perform in. When the shoe becomes too soft, which can happen after just one vigorous performance, they can no longer be worn. But don’t worry – we don’t just discard the shoes, we often donate them to charity or use them for prizes, and our dancers re-use the ribbons on their new shoes.