Pointe Shoes Appeal
Footwear is essential to the art of ballet, enabling our dancers to give their very best performances. Each Season our dancers use over 10,000 pairs of pointe shoes and about 2,000 pairs of flats. Combined with the character shoes, elastic, ribbons and detailing relevant to each production, the total cost is over £250,000 a year.
A donation of any size will see you entered into the competition to win a pair of signed shoes, worn by Mara Galeazzi for her final performance with The Royal Ballet in Mayerling.
Message from Kevin O’Hare
Director, The Royal Ballet
It would mean a great deal to us if you felt able to match Edward and Mara’s commitment to each and every performance they give with a gift of any size towards the Pointe Shoes Appeal. Thank you.
‘Each and every dancer makes an extraordinary commitment when they choose a career with The Royal Ballet. During the Season they are working non-stop: taking class, conditioning their bodies, learning roles, rehearsing and of course, preparing their shoes.’
‘In order to give you a real sense of the commitment (not to mention the footwear preparation) required as part of a career with The Royal Ballet, I’m delighted that Principals Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson are representatives for this year’s Appeal. Mara retires this Season after 21 incredibly successful years with the Company, and Edward, after 19 years with us, continues to astound audiences with his strength and versatility. They are the most fantastic Company members and a great example to all the young dancers who join The Royal Ballet.’
Mara Galeazzi, Principal
The audience at the Royal Opera House are like a family to me and your support means so much. I feel you are the most important part of my 21-year career with The Royal Ballet and what has made me a British artist. To receive your applause and support means everything.
Mara Galeazzi first joined The Royal Ballet in 1992 and her first major role will also be her last, as Mary Vetsera in Mayerling. It is a role which requires her to make an extra commitment in preparing her pointes, as she frequently uses two pairs for just a single performance or an afternoon’s rehearsals. The process is quite an undertaking:
First she sews the fronts, which takes about 20 minutes for one shoe. Then she glues a pair of suede insoles into them for grip, before attaching ribbons and elastic. She then needs to apply some shellac, a glue-like liquid that dries and hardens, inside the front of the shoe, which will need to rest over-night before she can wear the shoes in the studio. The next day she will take them to class and break them with her hands- after which they’re ready to wear in rehearsals or for a performance. ‘It’s quite a lengthy process and I spend about 9 hours a week just working on my shoes so that I always have three pairs ready to use at any time’ says Mara.
Edward Watson, Principal
You never want to get left behind all the other talented people in the room! That’s something I learnt at The Royal Ballet School, that I would always have to work really hard to be good enough – I still do.
Edward Watson joined the Company in 1994 and became a Principal ten years later. His shoes are what are known as flat-spins and he has a reputation in the Company for the good care he takes by darning and patching them.
Flat-spins are 3/4 of the length of a normal flat and allow the dancer to manipulate their foot (literally spin it round) without any risk of the shoe loosening. Ed’s shoes have been made for him for 25 years by Bob Martin and he is well aware of the effort Bob goes to: ‘He cuts all the materials by hand- the canvas, cotton lining and leather split-sole. His wife then stitches them and he finishes them on a last at a friend’s workshop, as he’s closed his own company and is officially retired. He just carries on making them for me because he knows exactly what I need.’
From the craftsmanship that goes into making the shoes, to the careful hours of preparation, the discipline of the rehearsal studio and the precision required on stage – each Royal Ballet performance is underpinned by outstanding commitment. Might you match that commitment with a donation to the Pointe Shoes Appeal?