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Pointe Shoes Room: A look at the caterpillar’s feet in Alice

Eight dancers wear custom-made shoes each hand-encrusted with 365 crystals.

By Rachel Edmunds (Fundraising Appeals and Communications Manager)

28 March 2013 at 5.00pm | 5 Comments

It’s one of the best-loved scenes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the meeting of Alice and the hookah smoking Caterpillar. After his solo, backed by Arabian princesses, the caterpillar departs the stage with parasol in hand, followed by a trail of legs in perfect unison. 16 legs with 16 feet, all wearing the most beautiful, royal blue, crystal-encrusted pointe shoes. It’s a moment audiences love but behind it lies a huge amount of effort.

Each blue shoe belongs to one of eight dancers: either members of The Royal Ballet Company or Royal Ballet School students. Each individual pair is prepared by one of the two members of staff working in the Ballet Shoe Room. Jane and Máire first have to fit the shoes, before dying them an exact shade of royal blue. Blue ribbons are then attached before each shoe is hand-encrusted with 365 crystals. It takes about a day to prepare each pair of shoes, and these are just 8 of the thousands (approximately 11,000) pairs of pointes Jane and Máire have to make sure are available to the Company throughout the Season

The Ballet Shoe Room is particularly busy at the moment, with three full-Company works needing support. Before the end of the Season, Jane and Máire will have ordered, dyed, prepared and got the right shoes to the right dancer for 11 performances of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 12 Bayadères and 13 performances of Mayerling.

We need an investment of over £250,000 each Season to support Jane and Máire’s work meeting the ballet footwear demands, and each year we run a Pointe Shoes Appeal. Every donation makes a very real difference:

  • £5 could buy the elastic that is sewn onto every pair to support the ankle
  • £30 could buy a pair of men’s ballet flats
  • £36 could buy a pair of pointe shoes
  • £72 could buy two pairs of pointes

Thank you to everyone who supports us. We are very grateful for the part you play in our success.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland runs until 13 April 2013. Tickets are sold out though returns may become available.

Watch our film to find out how pointe shoes are made.

By Rachel Edmunds (Fundraising Appeals and Communications Manager)

28 March 2013 at 5.00pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ballet shoes, by Christopher Wheeldon, Caterpillar, Eric Underwood, pointe shoes, Pointe Shoes Appeal, Production

This article has 5 comments

  1. Isa responded on 28 March 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

    Ever thought about selling the used pointe shoes? I can think of many companies who do so in order to raise money for new footwear.

  2. Hello
    Would you ever consider auctioning them for the Pointe Shoe Appeal? Or even 'plain' shoes worn by dancers?
    I assure you, it would be very popular.
    Oxfam has done a similar online charity auction using eBay which keeps development & set up costs lower than anything bespoke.

  3. Linda responded on 29 March 2013 at 1:43am Reply

    are you kidding.....why use Swarovski as if anyone in the audience could tell the difference.....

  4. Well done Jane and Maire.

  5. Kathleen Parr responded on 27 April 2013 at 10:21pm Reply

    Jane and Máire : We saw the on live feed from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada last Sunday. Since I am a seamstress, I just wanted compliment you on those absolutely gorgeous blue pointe shoes that the caterpillar wore! They were delicious! Sincerely, Kathleen Parr

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