28 November 2017 at 9.45am | 7 Comments
'Pointe shoes are so important to dancers. When I'm dancing, they become part of my body', says Royal Ballet Principal dancer Akane Takada of a ballerina's signature tools of the trade.
'My first pair of pointe shoes was a present from my mum, and I just loved them. I still love everything about wearing pointe shoes – even the noise they make when you walk in them!'
Takada is one of the faces of this year's Royal Opera House Pointe Shoes Appeal, which raises valuable funds for The Royal Ballet, ensuring that every dancer in the Company can train, rehearse and perform throughout the year. With more than 6,000 pairs of pointes required each Season at a cost of more than £250,000, the campaign is vital to the continued success of the Royal Opera House, which is a registered charity.
Even a small donation can make a big difference: a gift of £5 could pay for ribbon for five pairs of shoes while £39 could provide a pair of pointe shoes for use during a performance.
Dancers often require specific styles of shoe to suit specific roles, as explained by Takada's fellow dancer, First Artist Camille Bracher:
'A softer shoe is better for lyrical dancing, whereas in a ballet like Giselle I need a harder shoe, as it's so classical and technical I need to feel well supported'.
The specifics of each dancer's technique however, requires further customization than is possible from box-fresh shoes, and so Royal Ballet dancers tend to make personal adjustments to suit the requirements of their own unique performance style – often in surprising and inventive ways:
'I use dental floss to sew the ribbons and elastics on my shoes because it's really strong', reveals Bracher. 'Sewing is definitely the most time-consuming part of pointe shoe preparation – each pair takes at least 45 minutes'.
'The tiniest things make a such a difference to us; even a millimetre can ruin a shoe. Professional dancers are always changing and adapting their shoes', says Hinkis.
‘One of the reasons I love being in The Royal Ballet is dancing on pointe' says Mendizabal. 'We train so hard, and I feel privileged that we are able to dance in such great pointe shoes.’
To donate to The Royal Ballet’s Pointe Shoes Appeal, visit www.roh.org.uk/pointe