Pointe shoes are a dancer's most vital too. We need your help to keep them 'en pointe' in our 50th year.
Our dancers depend on their bespoke shoes to create the beautiful illusion you see on stage. However, their journey from factory to stage is lengthy and arduous. The shoes are hand-crafted and fitted for each of our 18 female dancers.
Scottish Ballet will dance through roughly 1,400 pairs of pointe shoes this year. Keeping the company ‘en pointe’ during our Golden Year will cost roughly £56,000.
£40 will buy one pair of pointe shoes for one dancer, £60 will buy a pair of shoes and ribbon, £100 will buy two pairs and a tub of Shellac. Please click the button below and donate to our Shoe Fund.
Look out for our Pointe Shoe Collection box in the foyer of your local theatre this year. Your spare change will help keep us on our toes.
Thank you for your support.
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.
‘Shoe skips’ travel with the dancers 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!
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.