When Kathryn Wade, Principal of the Outreach Programme at The Royal Ballet School, asks if you would like to take part in a pointe shoe documentary, you feel very lucky indeed. At the time I was a junior student at White Lodge and Miss Wade was soon to move on from her senior position at our school, where she had started out as a young girl like myself many years before. In between she had danced with the Royal Ballet company alongside Margot Fonteyn and had served many years as Director and Chief Executive Officer of the English National Ballet School.
Produced by Lookin Video Limited the documentary was released on YouTube just a few days ago. It brings together the many interesting facets of what makes a pointe shoe and is narrated by the dancer Emma Lister and by Freed’s key maker, Pat. I was fascinated to see how physically demanding Pat’s work is and also loved to hear the pride in his voice as he talks us through how he makes each shoe.
My part was very small; about a 30 second clip in the second half of the documentary showing how we tie our shoes with a ‘quick release’ knot. So you can imagine my surprise to see my feet featured in the opening title shots! Perhaps more interesting is that I am wearing a pair of pointe shoes that had been darned, as we were taught to do in Years 7 and 8.
The documentary ‘What’s in a Ballet Shoe’ runs for about half an hour – I hope you enjoy it.