The Art of and Science of Pointe Shoes

Corps dancer Rebecca King caught up with Marie Johansson, manager of Freed of London’s New York store, to discuss a pointe shoe’s perfect fit.  Each year, Marie visits Miami City Ballet’s studios for pointe shoe fittings, helping dancers select a shoe that matches their unique needs.  In addition to performing expert pointe shoe fittings, Freed of London also sponsors Miami City Ballet School’s annual audition tour for its Summer Intensive Program.  All of us at the ballet thank Freed for its generosity!

Discover the science behind the perfect fit in this video created by Rebecca King.

Project Pointe

Principal dancer Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg has certainly kept busy during her pregnancy.  Not only is she a soon-to-be-mom, but she is also staying active, taking ballet classes and raising money for Miami City Ballet’s Toe Shoe Fund.  With the help of Haute Couture fashion designer Ozcar G. and friends, she created the fashionable cause and opening night event Project Pointe.  The chic affair will raise money through a silent auction, which features exclusive, one-of-a-kind items including an original Ozcar G. Couture evening gown, hand decorated and embellished pointe shoes by Ozcar G., himself, original art work and photography, and jewelry.

All proceeds will support the Toe Shoe Fund and help Jennifer achieve her goal.

© YOBE Photography

“Pointe shoes are singularly the most significant tool that dancers rely on to perform at our best.  They are deceivingly fragile and no two pairs are exactly the same.  Miami City Ballet’s Toe Shoe Fund initiative raises critical funds to ensure that our dancers are equipped with a shoe supply abundant enough to match the ever increasing demands of our rehearsal and performance schedules.  Since we each wear our pointe shoes out differently, pointe shoes inevitably become a part of a dancer’s unique “footprint.” Every “dead” pair has served a ballerina in its own special way, and has helped to create countless inspiring moments.  There is no better way to make a ballerina smile than to give her a brand new pair of shoes — crafted to her own specifications, helping to keep her feet protected, supported and injury free. Please help to keep us smiling and on our toes!  Your support of MCB’s Toe Shoe Fund is personally appreciated by each and every one of us.”

Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg
Principal Dancer

Project Pointe takes place at Adrienne Arsht Center’s Peacock Rehearsal Studio on Friday, October 19, 2012 — opening night of the 2012-2013 Season.  Those who place bids will be invited back to the Peacock Rehearsal Studio for a VIP cocktail and dessert reception after the performance, to make their final bids and claim their prizes. Click here to see the auction items.

Ritualistic Preparation

Post by Callie Manning, Soloist

Pointe shoes to a dancer are like paint brushes to an artist. They are the key instruments we use to create our art. Our shoes are hand made and custom ordered specifically to our liking. Most of the Miami City Ballet dancers wear a brand of shoes called Freed, which are made in London. Each cobbler, or “maker,” makes their shoe slightly different and there are over 20 to choose from. Then there are different lengths, widths and degrees of hardness. The shape of the shoe can even further be adjusted down to 1/8 of an inch! Once you find the right maker and adjust the shoes to be made just right, they are not nearly ready to wear upon arrival.

Every dancer prepares their shoes differently. It can take years of trial and error to find what works best for you. Some of my tricks include: using super glue to make my pointe shoes EXTRA hard and last longer; stitching around the tips (this is called “darning”) to make a nice flat platform; and I also sew an inch of elastic into each ribbon to give them a little stretch. When we are performing I can go through roughly 2-4 pairs per week (even after adding 8 tubes of super glue per pair). It can sometimes take me up to 45 minutes from start to finish to prepare my shoes.

The way we prepare our pointe shoes is extremely important. I would never dare to forget a step or my shoes would be almost un-wearable.  Many dancers will agree with me that if your shoes are bad, your performance will be bad, too. Trust me, we do everything we can to keep that from happening!

Here is an inside look at my ritualistic preparation process!

On Pointe!

The first-floor dancer lounge was buzzing with excitement as young ballerinas waited for their Freed of London pointe shoe fitting. “She was counting down the days,” said one of the ballet mothers. This is such an important time in a dancer’s life. After so many years in ballet slippers, students finally get into pointe shoes! Although the fitting itself may take extra time and effort with Freed’s careful attention to detail, it’s all worth it in the end. Soon these young dancers will be experts on pointe!

Shoe Day

We just had the first Shoe Day of the Season, when dancers visit the costume shop to pick up their shoes for the month.  We spoke with Costume Designer and Director Haydee Morales on Shoe Day…you won’t believe how many pointe shoes a dancer goes through each season! Plus, we take a peek at the shoe room.

You can help keep the dancers ”on their toes.”  For more information about the Toe Shoe Fund, click here.