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Noisy point shoes


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#46 innopac

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:00 PM

Does a sprung floor cut down on the noise made by point shoes?

#47 carbro

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:41 PM

Good question!

A sprung floor has air pockets, doesn't it? Without soundproofing material, wouldn't that amplify the sound? Or is there something they can insert which can keep the floor resilient yet muffled?

#48 printscess

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 06:48 PM

Balanchine disliked noisy shoes, so NYCB dancers are obsessed with (and outspoken about) making as little noise as possible. You won't hear much pointe shoe noise from the Royal Danish Ballet either, but I suspect that the idea is less novel to them considering the company's much longer history. :rolleyes:



This past winter season at NYCB, I was wondering who the herd was on stage. I had never heard such loud landings before. Hopefully with the new renovation of the State Theatre the problem will be solved. The funny thing is that I had never noticed the sound before. :lightbulb:
:off topic:

I wonder if the powers that be at Lincoln Center will have the problems that we mortals have with renovations. I shudder to think about it having barely lived through my apartment renovation. And I wonder if the renovations will be finished on time for the NYC Opera fall season?

#49 dirac

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 03:12 PM

Does a sprung floor cut down on the noise made by point shoes?


Thank you for reviving this thread, innopac. I have absolutely no idea, but perhaps there's someone out there who does....

#50 SanderO

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 05:14 PM

Has any engineer tried to tackle this problem?

#51 Sacto1654

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 05:22 PM

I was watching a YouTube video of a 2005 Mariinsky Theatre Swan Lake performance and good gracious, you can definitely hear the very noisy point shoes (it was REALLY annoying during the "Dance of the Little Swans" sequence from Act I Scene 2 :mad: ).

I'd like to know how they managed to block out nearly completely the noise of the point shoes on the 2007 DVD release of Swan Lake (Decca 074 3216 7) without interfering with the great sound of the orchestra and even the applause from the audience. :dunno:

#52 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:03 PM

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.

Yes, and while on the Soviet Union tour, out of a sleepless frustration caused by her room's nightstand radio, she gave the hammer a different use...

[size=3][font="Comic Sans MS"]"I grabbed the hammer that i used to soften my shoes. After giving the radio a few good shots, i gave up.(...)It was still crackling. I decided to match wits with this infernal device.(...)I figured i had every right to smash a defective radio that was keeping me awake".[/font][/size]

Gelsey Kirkland. "Dancing on my Grave"
:dunno:
But back to the noisy toe shoes...

#53 carbro

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:20 PM

I was watching a YouTube video of a 2005 Mariinsky Theatre Swan Lake performance and good gracious, you can definitely hear the very noisy point shoes (it was REALLY annoying during the "Dance of the Little Swans" sequence from Act I Scene 2 :mad: ).

I'd like to know how they managed to block out nearly completely the noise of the point shoes on the 2007 DVD release of Swan Lake (Decca 074 3216 7) without interfering with the great sound of the orchestra and even the applause from the audience. :dunno:

Digital editing and mixing. It's been available for some 30 years.

So why wasn't it used in the 2005 video? Because, in case you hadn't noticed, the video companies seem to consider their ballet market to be second-class citizens, so grateful for the crumbs we get that the quality doesn't matter. :(

#54 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:26 PM

the video companies seem to consider their ballet market to be second-class citizens, so grateful for the crumbs we get that the quality doesn't matter. :mad:

:dunno:

#55 Sacto1654

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 07:16 AM

Digital editing and mixing. It's been available for some 30 years.

So why wasn't it used in the 2005 video? Because, in case you hadn't noticed, the video companies seem to consider their ballet market to be second-class citizens, so grateful for the crumbs we get that the quality doesn't matter. :mad:


By the way, I saw the new Decca DVD of The Nutcracker (the Mikhail Shemiakin production) and like the Swan Lake DVD recording, they extensively edited out the sound of the point shoes and turned up the sound of the orchestra and audience applause. (A bit off-topic, but Shemiakin's version of The Nutcracker has a very strange feel compared to the versions we all see at Christmas. :dunno: )

#56 Sacto1654

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 03:06 AM

When I listened carefully to the 2007 Decca Swan Lake DVD played on my computer (I have a new US$150 set of computer speakers!) and it appears the way they eliminated most of the sound of the point shoes was to use extremely directional microphones that pick up mostly the sound of the orchestra and the audience clapping. That's why it was so jarring to compare this DVD to on older video of the same ballet, which didn't use these highly-directional microphones and you can hear the point shoes very clearly. :)

#57 Hans

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 05:26 AM

I have noticed that shoes seem to be louder on video than in real life--for example when watching a performance at the Kirov Academy in person, shoe noise was minimal, but on the video it is quite loud.

#58 whetherwax

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:21 PM

For some reason I take pleasure in listening to the sound of point shoes on both DVD and the stage. The sound reminds me of the dancers need to engage with the material world. They are working - and the sound reminds me of how hard they are working. When the Shades run to the wings I am pleased to hear them. I know it seems weird but the sound earths the ballet for me in a good way.

#59 4mrdncr

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 08:20 PM

I used to smash/mash mine in doorjambs, stomp on the box, pound them with hammers, bend them (almost in half), scrape down the shank (since there were no half or 3/4 shanks then), put alcohol on them to soften, glue to harden, snip/sew/darn tips etc.etc.etc. Mostly because in my day, we had fewer choices of maker, width, shank, box, wings and I had to do everything possible to make them work. I also wore different shoes (and fixes) based on which ballet(s) we performed. Softest possible for Les/La Sylphide or Giselle, harder for the Petipas (4 acts and classical vs romantic technique meant a lot more pointe work!), and contemporary works. Did shoes (good or bad) affect my foot physiology? Probably, but more attention to such matters from schools/instructors would have helped too. They told us what brands were available, but rarely provided detailed analysis of which "models" would work best for our feet or technique.
I remember that article about Gelsey and paying close attention to what she did to her shoes. I also own a book (I think titled: Ballet Shoes) which tells in detail what many famous dancers (mostly from '70's or earlier) did to their shoes to make them usable. I learned a few more techniques for "deconstructing" my shoes from them. I was very envious of those in larger companies, or more VIP than myself, who had a deal with individual makers or lasts.

#60 Paul Parish

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 09:09 PM

Balanchine technique -- o WHY do I think I know this? I read it somewhere -- in RELEVE is to spring onto the balls of the feet and then roll through hte toes. And the reverse coming down. I saw a video of Kyra Nichols dong this and it was astounding. But that was 20 years ago and I'm probably misremembering. The Cecchetti method, and Vaganova took it from him, is to spring onto the pointes, moving the toes inward to where the weight was centered before the releve. THe old Russian way (i got this from Vaganova's book) was to roll through the feet, in hte French manner.
And in taking a pique, teachers give a lot of attention to which edge of hte box touches the floor first. In Freeds, which have a wide square box, this might be easier to control han in the pointier Russian shoes.

WOuld someone who knows better than I confirm this?

Further random lore -- when hte Royal Ballet performed in France after the war, French critics were amazed by the quietness of the English dancers'[ shoes -- "divine silence."

In any case, the releve is not nearly so noisy as landing from jumps.

I have certainly seen a teacher have a pointe class do their sautes again and again and LISTEN, getting them quieter and quieter -- and ask them to dance as if they had a headache, or a basket of eggs on their heads -- it DOES soften the footwork.

Sometimes it seems to be the stage itself that's noisy. In Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, where the Kirov and Bolshoi havve been performing for hte last few years when htey appear in the Bay Area, there's a section of hte stage that seems to be noisy -- it's like between the first and second wings, moderately downstage. Every ballet company makes more racket in that area -- doing the same steps further upstage OR downstage, it's not so loud.... TYhe Kirov's fairies, the Boklshoi's swans, the Stuttgart's Veronans, the Cubans in Coppellia, (who seemed VERY loud, though NOT Lorna Feijoo, she was quiet -- and we were figuring they had to keep their corps shoes going as long as possible)... But it happens with everybody. Maybe it';s hollow under the stage there? Maybe there's some sounding-board effect that brings the sound forward from there? THere's a sprung floor, so that's not hte issue.... Very strange.


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