Inside the Bloch Pointe Shoe Room at The Australian Ballet
Published on 28/08/2017
"I was a dancer with The Australian Ballet for eight years before retiring from the stage to start my new career in the company as Artistic Coordinator.
I look after all the shoes for the whole company, which spans: the main company, our Education team (in school outreach), Regional Tour and Storytime Ballet. The company goes through around 6,500 shoes annually: flats for both men and women and custom-made pointe shoes.
Dancers performing a principal role in a three-act work will often go through two or even three pairs of pointe shoes in one night, so the shoe room is kept full with replacements. I place a big order with Bloch each month and we are in contact on a daily basis discussing all matters of shoes.
I am constantly checking the Bloch Pointe Shoe Room and thinking a couple of months in advance to predict how fast the dancers will use their shoes, depending on what kind of repertoire is coming up. It’s a bit of a guessing game but you get to know each dancer's shoe usage very well.
Each dancer has their own pigeon hole with their customised shoes inside. I also have other pigeon holes designated to various sized ballet flats and tights for the ladies.
The boys all have a selection of individually customised shoes in flesh, black and white.
If a role in a ballet requires a particular colour of shoe, I will select the shoes of each dancer who has been cast in the role and send them down to wardrobe to be painted.
When we go on tour, I pack an allocation of shoes for every dancer into crates. This is a huge job and during a show season I am at my busiest, as shoes and cast sheets take it to a whole new level.
We are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work so closely with Bloch's expert fitting team to be able to have custom-made shoes for our dancers.
When a dancer decides to modify her pointe shoes I will organise a specialist fitting with Bloch's Master Shoe Fitter, Sallyanne, who has been fitting the company dancers for over 9 years now. The dancer explains what changes they want and we create a ‘trial’ shoe as a starting point.
Sallyanne was a professional ballet dancer for almost 20 years, and has a wealth of knowledge: she understands what each dancer needs and really takes the time to work with myself, the dancer and the medical team to find the perfectly fitting shoe for their current situation. It is a constant and ongoing process as the dancer's needs and specifications change over time depending on the roles they are rehearsing and performing, and if they are recovering from injury or doing rehabilitation.
If you are in Melbourne you can visit the Bloch Pointe Shoe Room as part of The Australian Ballet Centre Tour. Click here for more information.
Bloch would like to thank Eloise for her time in preparing this piece. Photography by Ally Deacon and Kate Longley (The Australian Ballet)