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Noisy point shoes


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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?

The Estonian National Ballet supplies its dancers with (a) as many pairs of pointe shoes as each needs. The dancer has only to go to the office manager (a former dancer with the company) and ask for more shoes. (b) Grishko.

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I've never seen anything except custom Capezio, Freed Classic, or Gaynor Minden on professional dancers in NYCB and ABT. Gaynors seem to be getting very popular with ABT dancers. City Ballet mostly wears Freed.

I wear Grishko, and don't find them particularly loud once they are broken in. They squeek, but don't thud or click. I swear it has something to do with the way you work your foot.

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It also depends a lot on where you're performing. For example, the New York State Theater is a rather "dead" stage. Just across the plaza, though, is the Metropolitan Opera House. It isn't as live as the old house, where you could actually hear Russian dancers talking to one another! It is pretty live, though and you can hear every "clop-clop".

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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!".  :)


I couldn't have said it any better myself.


Does the squeeking sound made by some shoes get to anyone?

Sometimes I find this to be a tad more annoying than the louder noises made by pointe shoes.

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I found that ABT's corps is quite noisy at the Kennedy Center, and that the Kirov is about average. I suspect that some of it has to do with dancing in an opera house--the entire building is designed to allow you to hear everything!

I remember hearing Beverly Sills talk about when the New York State Theater was designed and how Balanchine wanted as little noise as possible coming from the stage and the NYCO wanted as much as possible.

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Personally, pointe shoe "clicking" doesn't disturb me, and at times I have to say that I enjoy it. However, there's a difference between just noisy pointe shoes vs. "bams" when someone lands hard. When a landing from a jump is heavy *and* the shoes make noise -- that is a bit annoying, but pointe shoes alone, as long as they're musical, seem fine to me.

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It doesn't say much for the abilities of dancers only able to dance in shoes so reinforced that when en pointe the noise distracts the audience.

Yes, the Kirov company is the worst offender, for some reason the rival Bolshoi isn't half as bad, but even within the Kirov I can think of one dancer who dances silently.

Having just returned from the Bournonville Festival I can confirm that silent dancing is the norm with the Danes - and no thuds from the men there when they jump either.

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Take a look at the sister board "BalletTalk for Dancers." On that board is an entire forum strictly about pointe shoes. There are many requests every day from dancers and parents asking for assistance in the quest for the "perfect" shoe. Feet come in a variety of shapes, structure and strength; just as the rest of the human body. Pointe shoes also come in a variety of shapes, structure and strength. Some dancers feet are amenable to many different shoes, others search for years and end up "making do;" choosing the shoe with the fewest negatives. In my daughter's experience, she was only able to wear Grishkos (stronger boxes), when she developed enough strength in her feet to handle them.

Additionally, different shoes are used for different styles of ballet. My daughter will only wear Grishkos when taking class from a Russian instructor; and she will only wear Freeds when taking class from Ms. Farrell. For any other instuctors, she will wear what ever shoes she has sewn that aren't "dead."

That said, if she is going to wear Griskos, she takes them outside and bangs a portion of the box against the cement to soften it so it won't be noisy. When she dances in her "banged" Grishkos they are just as quiet as her Freeds!

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The link to the BT4D Pointe Shoe forum is:


A number of topics on the forum raise and address -- directly and indirectly -- issues that are pertinent to the thread:

1. How much leeway does a young dancer have to choose, particularly those who are trained from children in the institutional training schools like POB, Bolshoi, Maryinski, Royal Ballet School, Royal Danish Ballet, where their first pointe instruction is in the school itself, vs. most of the schools in the US, where many to most of the pre-professional students come to the schools with beginning pointe training from elsewhere?

2. What is the institutional pressure to change in schools and in companies?

3. How much do individual teachers influence shoe choice?

4. How does the shoe choice affect physiological development, strength?

5. How accommodating are various shoe types to special needs (unusually shaped feet, bunions, etc.)?

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At SAB if you don't wear Freeds, you will be severely mocked. By the teachers.

UBA students are allowed to wear whatever they like, and I believe the same is true at POB. The Kirov and Bolshoi theaters make their own shoes, which I believe the students wear as well, although that may have changed.

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Gaynor Mindens seem to be gaining popularity at ABT. They may be quiet, but the roll through is not as smooth as in Freed's. As an audience member, I'd be willing to hear a little tick-tick (but not a lot of CLOP-CLOP :) ) in exchange for more fluid pointe work.

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Having recently seen the Kirov, I thought I'd add that I didn't find them loud at all; on the contrary, they were much quieter than ABT. However, I was sitting in the second tier (nosebleed) so I don't know how much that alters the sound.

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I have just watched the DVD "The Pharaoh's daughter" and I wonder what kind of floor they have at the Bolshoi, it's seems to amplify the noise from every little step from the pointe shoes.

Perhaps it's just a mistake by the soundguy that misplaced the microphones, but It's really disturbing and at several times it could be heard over the music, I really would prefer to have no stagesound at all.

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I haven't ever heard Russians with noisy pointe shoes but the Australian Ballet has very noisy pointe shoes that can easily ruin a mood. It is inappropriate that their jumps land so harshly that the pointe shoes make such a big noise. It is also partly the orchestra's fault for not playing loud enough. I think that if something is marked as p it should be played mp and if it's marked f it should be played ff etc. But anyway, I hate noisy pointe shoes in performances, though my mum actually loves the sound and she says thats one of the main reasons she goes! :wallbash: Anyway!

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Some of the noise that you hear from pointe shoes depends on the stage of the theatre that the dancers are in. For example, if the acoustics are good, then the audience will hear every sound of the pointe shoes. I have performed on a stage, where even when the dancers were speaking in full voices, the audience did not hear them. Needless to say, the pointe shoe sound is not an issue in that theatre!

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Do people think the noise is often worse in opera houses, which were intended to carry every (operatic) sound as far as possible, rather than in dance theatres such as London's Sadler's Wells?

Edit: Someone's already said that! But I think more manufacturers are beginning to pad the pleats of the shoes - the pleats of Bloch Serenade II are padded. And in Russia, aren't dancers taught to spring onto pointe rather than roll there? Could that have somehting to do with anything?

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I must admit that noisy pointe shoes are a pet peeve of mine. I can't stand them!

My daughter trained at a ballet school whose female head had the same pet peeve as mine - which is probably where I picked it up :yes: She insisted that the dancers in her student company have quiet shoes. Daughter and friends spent lots of time working on their shoes. They have carried that ethic on into their post-school dancing.

I may be an extreme case when it comes to loud shoes. I've always been that way about errant sounds. I took classical guitar lessons as a child and was taught to avoid that squeaky sound that occurs while sliding up one's fingers up and down the fretboard. When I hear recordings with those fret sounds, I wince. It disturbs the mood of the music so much that I can't get past it. Ditto the sound of pointe shoes in a ballet performance. It interrupts the mood so much for me that there are times when I can't overcome it enough to enjoy the ballet!

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As a footnote to this long-lived thread, the current Dance Magazine quotes Pascale van Kipnis (NYCB): "Every NYCB dancer bangs her shoes. IIt's a requirement that we don't make noise.."

P.S. It's interesting that of the 7 dancers interviewed for this article (including ABT, Danish, and Royal), only the NYCB dancer raises the noise issue.

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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:

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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?

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