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Watch: How The Royal Ballet dancers prepare their pointe shoes

Sewing, cutting, customizing and rehearsing: a lengthy process of preparation keeps our dancers on their toes.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

22 November 2016 at 3.10pm | 2 Comments

Every aspiring ballet dancer dreams of the day they are given their first pair of pointe shoes. With their lengths of ribbon and delicate appearance, there’s something unmistakably beautiful about the shoes themselves – even before they’re used on stage as an integral part of a performance.

But don’t be fooled by their beauty: pointe shoes need to be hardy and powerful to propel dancers through even the most gruelling of performances. As Royal Ballet First Soloists Yasmine Naghdi, Yuhui Choe and Claire Calvert explain in this film, having a good pair of shoes is integral to the magic they create on stage.

‘We have so many demands put on the dancers that if we didn’t have the support of our shoes, we couldn't deliver to the high standards that we do’, Yasmine says.

Yuhui is preparing to dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Due to a packed rehearsal and performance schedule in the run up to Christmas, she has already prepared and danced through 20 pairs of pointe shoes since the start of the Season in late September: dancers sometimes get through three pairs per performance.

With a Company of nearly one hundred dancers, each Season thousands of shoes are used in performances, at a cost of more than £250,000.

It’s for this reason that The Royal Ballet runs an annual Pointe Shoe Appeal to raise the funds that enable dancers to give their best performances. A donation of £5 could pay for ribbon for five pairs of shoes, or £78 could provide two pairs of pointe shoes for the Lilac Fairy in one performance of The Sleeping Beauty, in its 70th anniversary year.

‘For us, pointe shoes are one of the most important things’, Yuhui says. 'Without pointe shoes ballet doesn’t exist.’

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:


To donate to The Royal Ballet’s Pointe Shoe Appeal, please visit

This article has 2 comments

  1. William Swales responded on 1 December 2016 at 12:40pm Reply

    What a fascinating and enlightening film.

    Perfection is everything – and the commitment that each ballerina puts into preparing their pointe shoes to their custom requirements so as to deliver sparkling effortless performances leaves one mesmerised and in awe of their dedication.

  2. jean amos responded on 2 March 2017 at 4:49pm Reply

    Not enough information....
    Re. type of ribbon.... how are they tied...
    breaking the back of shoes? cost...
    what happens to used shoes? do they change makers?
    Not enough views of dancers feet, pointless showing upper body pirouettes etc.

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