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Shoes


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37 replies to this topic

#1 Birdsall

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:38 AM

I have noticed at ballet companies the gift shop or gift area always has old pointe shoes signed by dancers. Does anyone actually buy these? I can't imagine buying a pair of old shoes! LOL It boggles my mind! I love watching famous dancers, but I do not want their old, used shoes no matter how good they are! I am just curious. And what would someone do with them if he/she bought them?

#2 California

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:10 AM

I confess that I'm one of the people who buy these. I most treasure my autographed shoes from Suzanne Farrell, Heather Watts, and Merrill Ashley from long ago, but I have some from newer generations as well. I have a little alcove intended for sculpture where I live and instead have used it to hang autographed shoes, photographs, and programs. Over time, the glue in the box of the shoe dries out and turns to sand, so they are kept in clear plastic bags tied with ribbon for display.

I once asked the volunteers at the ABT gift table why they never seem to have shoes from the Europeans. They responded that the Europeans think this practice is creepy, as Birdsall also seems to think. But please note that the proceeds (at least at ABT) go to the Dancers' Emergency Fund, so it's a worthy cause.

Surely I'm not the only one here to collect these. . .

#3 susanger

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:22 AM

Oh my goodness, yes, people buy signed pointe shoes and men's ballet slippers. As a volunteer at both the NYC Ballet gift shop (when volunteers staffed it) and ABT's gift shop, I can tell you that signed shoes are very popular especially if the pointe shoes still have their ribbons or like Wendy Whelan's shoes, still have the paper towels stuffed in the tops. ABT dancers will sometimes note for which performance the shoes were worn. Young dancers and balletomanes buy the shoes of their favorite dancers; parents and grandparents buy them as gifts for their children and grandchildren. Some fans make shadowboxes that include the shoes, photos and autographed programs.

I'd be so curious to know if any Ballet Alerters have signed shoes. I do: Teresa Reichlen, Megan Fairchild, Rachel Rutherford (signed with a green pen because of her Emeralds role), Lauren Lovette (pink and black ribbons) and Wendy Whelan (ribbons and paper towels).

Edited by susanger, 01 January 2013 - 01:14 PM.


#4 Helene

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 10:09 AM

Autographed shoes are a great way for companies to make back that fraction of the crazy cost of them, and, on the whole, they are relatively inexpensive souvenirs.

They're a lot more accessible than, say, the many thousands of dollars for Nureyev's slippers, Marilyn Monroe's shoes, or autographed baseballs, jerseys, and other sports equipment.

#5 angelica

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 10:45 AM

I have a small collection of pointe shoes from some of my favorite ABT dancers: Amanda McKerrow, Diana Vishneva, Stella Abrera, Sarah Lane, and my most favorite pair from Veronika Part, on which, per my request, she signed her name in English on one shoe and Russian on the other. I'd like to add a few others some day, but they are becoming increasingly expensive. I display them in a basket on an occasional table in my living room near the grand piano. Admittedly, they are a curiosity to some. Others find them fascinating. Someone on this list has a great quote from Agnes de Mille appended to their signature about the ability of dancing on pointe to elicit attention, second only to screaming (or something like that, I can't find it now), which I love!

#6 sandik

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 10:49 AM

... Rachel Rutherford (signed with a green pen because of her Emerald's role)


Very smartypants, that!

They're a lot more accessible than, say, the many thousands of dollars for Nureyev's slippers, Marilyn Monroe's shoes, or autographed baseballs, jerseys, and other sports equipment.


Thank you for putting this in context. Human beings are part magpie, I think -- the materials may be different, but the impulse to collect is pretty universal.

#7 abatt

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:21 PM

This issue came up about 15+ years ago when a colleague of mine, whose wife was a principal at NYCB at the time, gave a pair of used autographed pointe shoes to one of the important partners in our company (as a present to his young daughter). He thought the partner gave him an odd look because the shoes were used, even though this is the tradition. (He also explained that given how much each pair of shoes costs, there was no way he would be giving away a pair of unused pointe shoes.)

#8 Helene

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:31 PM

I bet the partner wouldn't have had the same look if your colleague had handed him a signed bat used by Derek Jeter or Andy Pettitte's glove.

#9 California

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:39 PM

I bet the partner wouldn't have had the same look if your colleague had handed him a signed bat used by Derek Jeter or Andy Pettitte's glove.

Or a pair of Judy Garland's red shoes from The Wizard of Oz! One pair is on display at the Smithsonian. Another sold most recently for $600,000! And we don't even know that these were autographed!

http://www.smithsoni...-Like-Home.html

I have a pair of red men's ballet shoes autographed by Marcello Gomes with "Met 2010 Basilio." When I went back to old schedules, it appears his only performance of Don Q that season was the first act at the Alicia Alonso birthday celebration (which I was able to attend). Those shoes will never be worth $600K, but I treasure them anyway.

#10 sandik

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

I bet the partner wouldn't have had the same look if your colleague had handed him a signed bat used by Derek Jeter or Andy Pettitte's glove.


As people are saying now -- word.

#11 Birdsall

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:25 PM

I'm glad I asked this, b/c it is fascinating. I doubt I will ever buy a pair but I can picture someone collecting and making a sculpture of them, I suppose. My main concern is that since they probably sweated in them, do these shoes smell bad and do they sometimes get mold or mildew? I guess that is the part that makes me feel uneasy about the whole thing. But if those issues are never a problem I guess it is just fine to collect them! LOL

I actually did go backstage and get recordings signed by opera singers years ago when I first got into opera, but I always felt guilty I was wasting their time and after experiencing some diva behavior and then witnessing the same diva scream at fans right in front of me on another occasion, I decided I do not need to go backstage ever again. And I never did. All my signed recordings mean NOTHING to any of my friends anyway, so I asked myself, "Why did I put myself through a possible Battle backstage???" Some opera lovers here will understand my reference completely and know who I am referring to.....

Basically, I want to see a great performance and I now leave the performers alone and don't want anything from them.

#12 Helene

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:28 PM

In my experience, the shoes are dried out before bagging them in plastic bags, and they don't smell. A friend came to NYC in the '80's, and we made a ballet weekend of it. At one intermission, she plopped a plastic bag with Heather Watts' toe shoes in my lap, and they were fine.

Chances are they've been worn at most for a rehearsal or class and a full-length ballet, and possibly for only an act of a ballet, if that ballet is highly technical.

Compare that to spending an entire film in ruby slippers or however long a baseball glove lasts (in and out of the locker room, and all that spitting), or the tape and sticky stuff on a baseball bat.

#13 California

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:18 PM

In my experience, the shoes are dried out before bagging them in plastic bags, and they don't smell.

Perhaps Susanger can address this from her experience working at the gift bars. ABT sets out lots of pairs on their counter, but nothing is in a bag. NYCB sets some out, and seems to have a big supply behind the counter in little paper shopping bags. Either way, any moisture that was once in there is long gone by that time. I mentioned putting them in plastic bags after I bought them, partly so they don't collect dust now, but also partly because 30+ year old shoes literally start to disintegrate. The glue in the box turns to sand and starts draining out.

I do find it interesting to see how different dancers prepare their shoes in various ways -- cutting, scraping, breaking shanks, ripping out linings, etc. They all seem to have their own little rituals.

#14 Helene

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:02 PM

PNB's come bagged. I don't remember about Ballet Arizona, but I'm sure they sell them in the gift bars in the lobby. I can't remember about San Francisco Ballet, because I rarely get to the gift shop at intermission.

I don't remember exactly how the NYCB's came in the early '80's. Perhaps the plastic bag was a carry bag. I just remember being so surprised. (And that Suzanne Farrell's white shoes -- from "Mozartiana"? -- were a lot more expensive than the rest.)

#15 duffster

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:49 PM

When I was dancing, to make the pointe shoes work best on my feet, I had to do alot of preparation. I first would cut the satin tips off of the tops, sew double elastics for around the ankle( to secure the shoe so that it would not slip off during the performance)next I would sew elastics on to the ribbons as to have more give when you plie- as to prevent tendonitis. I had a very high instep so I think sewing them this way saved my career. Next I would scrape the bottoms , wet the shoes around the instep and secure the tie in the front . I went through a phase of darning them, but it got to be too much. You were always preparing your shoes- almost like doing your homework every day.


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