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paul

Noisy point shoes

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During the last visit of the Mariinsky to London their noisy point shoes were noticed a lot and metioned by critics. The dancers seemed undisturbed by the noise they were making for example in Balanchines Serenade.

I spoke to a dancer who said that the Royal ballet got aware of the problem of more and more noise and dealed with it. He could not tell me anything more. (how they dealed with it)

Has anyone heared anything about the russians and their noisy point shoes?

:thanks:

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I've noticed it too, when I saw the Bolshoi in Swan Lake. Either it's the shoes themselves or the way the women dance in them.

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I didn't notice it so much from the corps and among the soloists, but the Bolshoi's Antonicheva's toe shoes in Raymonda sounded like castinets, they were so loud. They barely softened as the ballet went on; perhaps she changed her shoes between acts.

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My daughter has one of Anna Antonicheva's shoes which she danced in when she performed Giselle with us a few years ago. The shank and tip are as hard as cement! I don't know how she was able to get it to bend with her foot at all. But, then, that's the reason for her hard shoes. She has two of the most flexible, arched feet in ballet! She needs the hardness for support.

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Russian shoes are notoriously hard and noisy, so it is likely just the shoes.

Now hearing talking from backstage--that's the kind of noise that makes me crazy!

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Thank you for your replys.

Yes I am sure it has to do in parts with the point shoes. But I noticed over the last 20 years or so technical things (mistakes) creep in. For example jetes en avant: the front leg is raised so much that when landing one can not possible keep control in the body to go through the foot. They all seem to go up without a thought in their minds about whats going to happen when they come down.

Ballefans seem to accept this sort of noise. But I have been with "normal" people at the Ballet and they were bewildered: that someone so gracefull can make so much noise and asked me why that is.

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Paul -- I've noticed, too, that the noise made by dancers in pointe shoes is one of the things that non-ballet going friends comment on the most when they they go with me to the ballet. They register it as something that can't be right, and, in a way, their seemingly naive surprise is not off the mark. I've learned to write off noisy pointe shoes, especially in dancers or performances I otherwise admire, but in most ballets it's an interuption of the aimed for effect, and the non-ballet-goer's bemusement is understandable.

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No doubt that is why many newbie and infrequent balletgoers think that the boxes are made of wooden blocks! I remember only a few years ago hearing a father watching a National Ballet of Canada rehearsal on their annual Open House Day telling his young daughter that the reason the ballerinas can stand on their toes is because the ends of their toe shoes have wooden blocks in them. It's not the first time, by any means, that I have heard someone offer up this explanation.

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I'm sure that the dancers/teachers/coaches, having grown up with the clunky sound of pointe shoes, are as oblivious to it as we are.

I remember a Time magazine feature on Gelsey Kirkland shortly after her move to ABT, and it described her pointe shoe preparation routine. One of the steps was hammering the boxes to silence them. She wore Freeds, which are much softer than Russian shoes to start out with. I don't know how much noise could be hammered out of the Russian ones.

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A teacher of mine, formerly of the Royal Ballet, once chastised someone in class for noisy pointe shoes, saying that noisy shoes detracted and distracted and that it was the dancer's responsibility to ensure that didn't happen.

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And then there's the story of how Balanchine hated it when his dancers used rosin because it creates that squeaking sound and put dancers in soft shoes for a section of Midsummer Night's Dream because they made too much noise in pointes.

Antonicheva's shoes must be unusually hard. In every picture I've seen of her she has lovely insteps, but the shank looks barely bent and makes it appear as though she has low arches.

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I do remember as well hearing these horror stories about Dame Marie Rambert reahersing Les Sylphides. The girls when walsing and "junping" forwards had to to it over and over again until there was no noise heared.

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in most ballets it's an interuption of the aimed for effect

Nearly ten years later, I still remember the unholy racket made by Susan Jaffe's pointe shoes in the Preghiera section of "Mozartiana" at "Suzanne Farrell Stages Balanchine." It was an otherwise lovely performance.

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Most of the time I can tune the sound out, but there are occasions when it is very noticeable. The last time I saw the Stuttgart in Berkeley, the corps sounded like a cattle stampede, sans mooing, of course. It was very hard to understand how Juliet could stay asleep, even with chemical assistance, with these girls pounding all over the bedroom.

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In the latest print version of Dance View -- :blink: Alexandra!!!! -- in Tom Phillips' interview with Susan Pilarre, the former NYCB soloist and current teacher and stager of Balanchine's work noted that the women of The Warsaw Ballet, where she was staging Serenade, "wear those hard Russian shoes, and the coming through the foot on the way down from pointe is not as prevalent as it is here."

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Seems like its always male directors or just men in general complaining about noisy pointe shoes. The truth is, if a dancers shoes aren't noisy, chances are the shoes are dead. "Dead" shoes are unsupportive and can be dangerous to a certain extent causing a dancer to "roll-over" her shoes or possibly sprain her ankle. Another factor is what the dancers are using to harden and preserve their shoes. Most dancer in the US use something called Jet Glue to extend the life of their pointe shoes. Unfortunately, while doubling the life of the shoes, it makes the shoes very loud. Also, what kind of stage floor are the russian companies using? A lot of times a badly sprung floor will be noisy and slick.

It's easy to complain, but try stepping into our shoes for a day!

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Seems like its always male directors or just men in general complaining about noisy pointe shoes.

Maybe among the pros this is so, but I don't think it holds for the audience.
Also, what kind of stage floor are the russian companies using?  A lot of times a badly sprung floor will be noisy and slick.  
No, Paul opened the thread describing the noisy Russian shoes on the stage of London's Royal Opera House, where (presumably) he is accustomed to seeing and hearing the RB and other companies. In New York, the Russians make more noise than other companies at the Met and NYST.

It is possible to make pointe shoes quieter without sacrificing support. See above. I may have neglected there to note the remarkable quietness of Gelsey's dancing.

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There are different kinds of noisy in pointe shoes: there's thud thud, clomp clomp & bam bam, all of which can be momentarily distracting.

But then, there's click click & ticky tik. Merrill Ashley in Ballo did ticky ticky ticky tick & it was wonderful, on the beat & I've missed it since she retired.

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loud shoes can really take the magic away from a performance , russian shoes and suffolk pointe co. shoes are like cement and i really don't understand anyone wearing them at all.I can't explain why , but some stages can make you sound really loud even if your pointe shoes are relatively broken in .... happened to me once or twice

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Zerbinetta's characterization of the different kinds of noise made by pointe shoes made me think of the 1989 State Perm Ballet performance of Swan Lake with Nina Ananiashvili (Kultur video). This was definitely of the Thud Thud Clomp and Bam variety. Nothing like watching a group of willowy white swans and thinking of German troops goosestepping into Warsaw. Very bizarre -- and kind of sad. Is this really a Russian tradition, or a left-over of Soviet-era shoddy manufacture and poverty?

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The hardness of many russian pointe shoes has nothing to do with shoddy manufacture - they are very well made and are popular in the US as well (Grishko and Russian Pointe brands for example). A harder shoe often lasts longer than a softer shoe (like a Freed), so economy does play a part. When I did a lot of dancing, I could wear out a pair of Freeds in a very short time - say a couple of classes plus a rehearsal. Less than a weeks worth of wear! A harder shoe could last me two to three weeks. When you're buying your own shoes at about $60 a pop, this is a big deal. :)

In addition, some dancers require a harder shoe for more support, or prefer the way they feel/perform.

I hate loud pointe shoes too though - nothing like skimming across the floor doing bourrees and thinking "wow, I sound like a stampede of rhinoceroses!". :ermm:

jayo

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Different brands of pointe shoes are notoriously loud or quiet, after broken in. All pointe shoes are loud before they are broken in.

Quiet: capezio, freed, sansha, gaynor minden

Loud: grishko, russian pointe, other russian companies

Sansha even pads the pleats of their pointe shoes to make their shoes quieter.

Re: earlier comments-some Russian dancers are not taught to roll through their feet; grishko makes pointes shoes designed for this-vaganova & fouette models-which are designed for springing onto pointe.

Yes, most dance students are told to make their pointe shoes quiet, but there is only so much that you can do with a hard, heavy weight, etc. shoe.

If you have never held a pointe shoe in your hand, or perhaps never compared a grishko and freed, then it is difficult to understand why some pointe shoes are louder than others. Even a well broken in grishko is going to be loud.

The loud shoes also usually weigh more than their quiet counterparts, have harder & thicker boxes, have a harder shank (don't know if this plays a role in noise level), and break down less quickly than the quieter shoes.

Do I find loud pointe shoes annoying? yes. Will I change the brand of shoes that I wear (grishko) to have quieter shoes? No. Have other dancers changed shoe brands to have quieter shoes? Probably. However, dancing on pointe is difficult enough without factoring in noise level as a part of the shoe decision process.

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I must say, if I haven't before, that I find the clatter of pointe shoes a charming part of the ambience of a live performance. I actually like it! :blink:

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Interesting posts. There seem to be a number of reasons -- economic, aesthetic, physiological -- for point shoe selection. How about company policy? In professional companies you are familiar with, what's the policy re (a) quanity of point shoes provided to dancers and frequency of replacing them, and (b) choice of manufacturer or style?

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It entirely depends upon the "boilerplate" general contract with the union. I have seen as few as four pair a month in modern contracts. The usual agreement is "you can have whatever kind you want". Individual artist contracts may allow more (many more) than the basic, but four/month seems the basic. Of course, the dancer is free to purchase shoes on his/her own. I understand that now, a dancer may enter into an agreement with a manufacturer for free or discounted pointe shoes in exchange for endorsement.

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