Bloch is proud to be Official Pointe Shoe Partner to The Australian Ballet
Newly promoted Senior Artist and Bloch Professional Sharni Spencer talks us through her pointe-shoe routines.
What kind of pointes do you wear?
I wear a Bloch Heritage custom shoe, size 5 and a half, with a heel pin. I first started in a Bloch Sylphide and I’ve also worn their European Balance and trialled some of their other shoes, but I’m now quite attached to my Heritage. It’s my 26th variation of my customised shoe and that is printed on the inside: SS26 (the SS is my initials). Each dancer’s shoe is quite personalised and every dancer has different specifications. I have a heel pin to give a tiny bit of extra room in the heel. It gives it a bit more length and gives the heel a nice shape. I also have a tiny foam cushion to protect my toes.
Do you have any pointe shoe rituals?
I always like to keep a little store of shoes that I think are at a perfect stage of preparation or will be perfect for a certain role. So that I can tell them from my other shoes, I mark them on the inner sole with a little symbol: a tick or a star or a smiley face. If they’re for a certain role, I’ll indicate that with a word, like ‘Sugar’ for Sugarplum Fairy, ‘Snow’ for ‘Snow Fairy’ – when I was dancing the Fairy of Generosity in The Sleeping Beauty it was ‘Jenny’. Once I’ve performed in that pair of shoes, I’ll ‘retire’ them and use them for rehearsals or class. How do you prepare your shoes? I don’t do a lot to my shoe to break it in. I usually squish the box in a door hinge to flatten it out – it gives me more space and softens the box a little. I feel like I can use my intrinsic muscles more this way, without squishing my metatarsals together.
I wear a Pro Pad from Bloch inside my shoe to protect my toes and provide more comfort. I use two pieces of thick elastic to criss cross over my arch. I sew one end of the elastic to the sides of the heel and the other end to the seam on the shoe at the arch, so that it lifts the satin up where I want it to be. The criss-cross also helps my ankle and foot to feel stable in the shoe. Finally, I attach an Elastorib ribbon, which I also get from Bloch, at the same point as the elastic on the diagonal side seam. I place the satin ribbon on the arch seam before placing the elastic on top and then sewing them on together with a thick darning thread, looping through the ribbon and the canvas of the shoe but being careful of not going through to the satin on the outside.
How many pointe shoes do you go through per performance?
It depends what I’m dancing – it can be two pairs per performance for a big full-length ballet. For other shows you might wear the same pair for almost a week! On average, with class, rehearsals and performances, I go through about 50 pairs a year.