Every year Northern Ballet dancers use up to 3,000 pairs of pointe shoes as they rehearse and perform across the country, touring more widely than any other UK ballet company.
Each pair is carefully personalised to suit each individual dancer – and a comfortable pointe shoe is essential for their consistenly world-class performances.
To celebrate Northern Ballet’s third new ballet of 2017 The Little Mermaid we’re inviting you to support our special Pointe Shoe Appeal – to help our dancers to continue to find their own feet, season after season.
We caught up with Leading Soloist Hannah Bateman (HB) and dancer Dominique Larose (DL) to find out how they make their pointe shoes work for them.
First Soloist Hannah Bateman and dancer Dominique Larose
What make are your pointe shoes?
HB: I wear Freed of London shoes in a size 4 with a heel pin which makes them slightly bigger than a standard size 4. My shoes are made by the club maker and also have an extra deep vamp which gives me added support along the side of the foot.
DL: My pointe shoes are by Suffolk, they are the Solo model. I have worn the same kind of shoes since I was 13!
How long does it take you to prepare a pair of shoes?
HB: An hour per pair!
When do you prepare your pointe shoes?
HB: Whenever I can! It is a constant battle to keep up! I’ll get up an hour earlier; stitch a bit in my lunch hour or between rehearsals; prepare them at home whilst watching a bit of television; on a train journey – wherever, whenever!
DL: I like to prepare all of my shoes early because I don’t want to be rushed. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to get them all done. For a few weeks I’ll be in and out of the shoe room in the Wardrobe department like crazy!
Northern Ballet dancers en pointe in David Nixon's The Nutcracker. Photo Emma Kauldhar.
How long does each pair of shoes tend to last you?
HB: This is tricky because it depends on the work load; different ballets can put different pressures on your shoes. I can’t really wear a pair for more than two hours as the shoe starts to go soft with the heat of your feet, so I have to switch them quite often. For a typical Northern Ballet performance, I can easily wear one pair per show because the shoe has to look fantastic and be capable of sustaining its shape and strength.
DL: Usually a pair can last me a week but it depends on what ballet we are doing. When it’s hot in the summer I will go through shoes faster but I try to make them last as long as possible.
What else do you want to say about your pointe shoes?
HB: They are incredible! I have had mine made by club maker for the whole of my professional career and each pair is handmade by him in the Freed of London workshop in Norwich. The smell of brand new pointe shoes is really beautiful, the leather sole and the crisp satin, there is nothing like it!
DL: All I can say is I love my pointe shoes, they are very special to me. I need them to perform at my best so I really treasure them. I still have my very first pair of pointe shoes – I heard it’s lucky to keep them!
Help Hannah, Dominique and our dancers follow in the little mermaid’s footsteps and continue to find their own feet, season after season, by donating to our pointe shoe appeal.
What if you're not a professional dancer?
Read our interview with Northern Ballet Patron and Academy Open Class dancer Kimberley Hattersley-Barton to find out how she prepares her pointe shoes.