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Noisy pointe shoesWhy have they become so clunky?


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#16 Nanarina

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 08:31 AM

:D Following my earlier post on this, I decided recently to find out more about this subject,
As one of Freed's factories is at Norwich, near where I live, I telephoned their Assistant Manager, and had a very interesting conversation with her. She told me that the process of manufacturing where they are concerned has not changed over hundreds of years. Each shoe is handmade to the Dancers pattern and requirements. which can mean a different end to the toe area, more or less paste, all adding to the effeciancy in peformance. She agreed that shoes sometimes are more noisy than others, and suggested it could be down to more than one reason. That the shoes had not been broken in properly, to the fact dance mats are used on stages, that the shoes are made harder at the Dancers request, thus making them more noisy. So it would seem as far as Freeds are concerned the same materials are still used, and they are not looking to change things.

#17 leonid17

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:32 AM

:D Following my earlier post on this, I decided recently to find out more about this subject,
As one of Freed's factories is at Norwich, near where I live, I telephoned their Assistant Manager, and had a very interesting conversation with her. She told me that the process of manufacturing where they are concerned has not changed over hundreds of years. Each shoe is handmade to the Dancers pattern and requirements. which can mean a different end to the toe area, more or less paste, all adding to the effeciancy in peformance. She agreed that shoes sometimes are more noisy than others, and suggested it could be down to more than one reason. That the shoes had not been broken in properly, to the fact dance mats are used on stages, that the shoes are made harder at the Dancers request, thus making them more noisy. So it would seem as far as Freeds are concerned the same materials are still used, and they are not looking to change things.


Thank you for that interesting information.

I also hate noisy shoes especially when a whole corps de ballet clatters. It started with principals in various companies in the late 1960.s and hit various corps de ballets in the 1980's as far as I can recall.
Is it the result of over use of the microwave oven?

#18 bart

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:45 AM

Nanarina, you have the soul of an investigative journalist. Thank you for your research!

#19 canbelto

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:48 AM

There's a segment in Magic of the Dance where Margot Fonteyn traces the evolution of the pointe shoe from the time of Taglioni (when women were really dancing purely on their toes, literally) to the present day pointe shoe. She said that Anna Pavlova's pointe shoes were made by some shoemaster named Nicolini who had a magic potion of making the shoes extremely strong and supportive without being noisy. She said that when Nicolini died he took his secrets of how to make these strong, quiet shoes to the grave. :D

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 02:20 PM

No matter how Nicolini made them, they never hit the stage that way. Pavlova made something of a parade of her preparation of pointe shoes, which she would get in lots of 100 shoes at a time. On opening the crate, if there were witnesses present, she would go into High Dramatic form, and weep and swear that not a single shoe was good enough. Then would come mitigation, where she admitted, well, maybe some of these things could be salvaged. She then set upon an orgy of ripping, hammering, slamming in doors, and other mayhem against the shoes. A shank in this one would be better in that one, the outsole on these needed to be hammered flatter, and of course, ending with the inevitable darning of the shoe. After all they went through, those brand-new shoes needed it, just to hang together. Many students today continue to darn their shoes, even though they don't go through the rest of the process, and the shoes generally don't need it. Hangover from Pavlova.

#21 Nanarina

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:41 PM

:tiphat: Thank uyou all for your posts, I was very keen to find out more about this matter, so contacted Freeds.
On the POB La Sylphide DVD , there is a documentary about Taglioni, and how she improved her shoes to be able to dance on pointe. Pierre Lacotte, found the original costume lists, and for her, added was so many ppieces of cardboard. I t appears she strengthened the shoes, by using the cardboard and paint. I wonder if she was one of the first Dancers to do this?

Back to more recent times, certainly in the 60/70's girls were breaking in their shoes, like already mentioned, shutting them in doors, hitting them on concrete (The Opera House stairs were a favourite spot) cutting off the satin from the end of the block, and darning them. Some people removed all or part of the inner sole, or bent the metal strip underneath it. The outside would atill look new and clean, but the actual shoes were made much softer.


I really dislike the sound of noisy shoes, it really spoils the illusion fopr me. It is very off putting to hear a loud thud when the otherwise graceful Dancer lands. You sometimes even get Men landing badly, with a loud thump, but their shoes cannot really be blamed for it, maybe it is the floor, or simply they do not bother to mute their landings.

I must say with ABT at the Coliseum in Le Corsaire, they were not noisy, neither was Onegin at the Palais Garnier. Which delighted me, as sometimes on DVD I have noticed certain members of the cast can sound noisy. The Ballerina's shoes nowadays often look so prestine, it makes you wonder what they have done to their shoes.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 05:42 PM

bent the metal strip underneath it.


Metal strip? The two nails? The staple? The shank, except in specially made shoes (usually for men), is made of leather or composition.

#23 spot-spot

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 04:21 AM

Metal strip? :lol:

I am not a fan of Russian made shoes, and prefer anything but.

#24 LauraGG

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 10:56 PM

spot-spot, are you saying that from the perspective of a dancer who has danced in Russian shoes, or from an audience member perspective? Or, do you have a different perspective all together? :lol:

#25 Cabriole

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 08:02 AM

bent the metal strip underneath it.


Metal strip? The two nails? The staple? The shank, except in specially made shoes (usually for men), is made of leather or composition.


I don't know if still available, but Schachtner's used to have an option for a steel shank...I danced with a girl who had those 'super banana feet' that used them.

#26 Pointe1432

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:54 PM

It occurred to me to wonder whether the differences in stage flooring might also be a factor in how noisy the shoes are.


As a dancer in a company who recently moved to a new theatre, I can say that this CAN play a role. The stage at our new theatre is, naturally, a sprung floor. I don't know the details in the difference between this floor and our previous one, but they are different. Our new one is must softer to land on when jumping :) but from day one has been noisier, especially when it comes to the ladies pointe shoes.

The more noise sensitive floor coupled with the "perfect acoustics" of our new space, make it almost impossible for our shoes to be completely silent.

Production week is always filled with the sound of pointe shoes being "banged out" on a cement floor, concrete wall, or anything else to help soften the underside by the toe to help make it quieter.

It's a fine line and a tough balance to find. If the shoe gets too soft you find yourself putting things like Jet Glue on the inside to make them last just a little longer. But doing so, even on the inside of the shoe, will again make your shoes louder. :wallbash:

I think it is a combination of all these things though. Some stages are louder than others, some shoes are louder than others, and some dancers are louder that others.

But believe me, we hear it too! And none of us want to make a racket on stage! :yucky:


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