Ballet Boots mayhem in Mayerling
How the Pointe Shoes Room manages the colossal numbers of ballet boots required for MacMillan's ballet.
‘There are so many pairs of boots’ exclaims Jane Latimer, Ballet Footwear Supervisor, when asked about how the staff in the Pointe Shoes Room are coping with Mayerling.
‘Most of the boys need a different pair of boots for each act as they are set in completely different locations. Crown Prince Rudolf wears four different pairs: plain cream, caramel with a gold trim, black with a gold trim and brown. Then there are other characters: Bratfisch, Colonel ‘Bay’ Middleton, Count Larisch, Prince Philipp of Coburg, Emperor Franz Josef, Count Hoyos, Loschek, Count Eduard Taafe and of course, the four Hungarian officers – they have three pairs of boots each!’
A pair of ballet boots needs to be as well-crafted as a pair of pointe shoes so that they fit the foot but also the ankle and the calf. They also need to be snug against the front of the shin. Every dancer who wears them has a special fitting before master leather-worker and cobbler, Lewis Jones crafts the boots. Lewis takes the measurement before making a single pair, knowing that he will probably still have to make a couple of further alterations to ensure they really are the perfect fit.
Since MacMillan’s Mayerling was first staged in 1978, most of the boots worn have had to be replaced at some point, despite the best efforts of the Company to reuse them. Edward Watson, who is fronting our Pointe Shoes Appeal alongside Mara Galeazzi, and is renowned for his performances as Count Prince Rudolf, always tries to make his boots last. The pair he wears in the climactic final scene have recently had to be turned inside out and leather patches sewn into the soles where he has worn them through.
The care taken by the Pointe Shoes Room means that we keep replacements to a minimum, but inevitably the boots have a limited lifespan. With a pair of custom made ballet boots costing £320, perhaps you might consider supporting their work and the needs of our dancers with a donation to the appeal? Every donation counts and supports the work not only of our dancers but all the people who support them behind the scenes.