Our artists are supported by our Shoe Coordinator Amanda (Mandy) Newman, who liaises with manufacturers to tailor our artists’ shoes if needed, and manages our stock to ensure a fresh pair of pointes or flats is always available. Mandy is also an integral member of our Wardrobe team, responsible for preparing pointes and flats for the stage.

Our stunning triple bill, Li’s Choice, features more than 400 pairs of pointe and flat shoes across the production, with many pairs requiring hand-dyeing and altering to match the array of colourful costumes. From the kaleidoscope of colours in ragtime ballet Elite Syncopations, to Glass Concerto’s sleek George Wu-designed costumes and the war-themed colours of Natalie Weir’s We Who Are Left, Mandy has a big role behind the scenes of this production.

We sat down with Mandy to gain an insight into her role, and the wonderful world of ballet shoes.

Did you know that a typical Queensland Ballet production can use up to 200 pairs of pointe shoes and 200 pairs of ballet shoes? Help our dancers put their best foot forward by donating a pair of shoes here.

Li’s choice is a triple bill, which must mean lots of shoe requirements! Could you give us an overview?

The three separate ballets require a variety of shoes, from the ladies’ regular pink pointes to dyed pointes, and to the men’s unpainted flats to painted flats. There’s a little crossover where some pointes or flats can carry over from one piece to another or between characters in one ballet, but overall, everything will be different and unusual.

There needs to be at least four to five pairs of pointes for the ladies in Elite Syncopations alone, and there always needs to be spare flats for the men, due to wear and tear. With 16 performances across the season, all shoes get a heavy workout.

Do the dancers use a new pair of shoes every night, or can they reuse them throughout the season?

Dancers will continue to wear shoes until they wear out or don’t support their feet any longer. The ladies often have a few pairs of pointes at the ready and use them as the ballet requires… some work needs a harder new shoe and sometimes a worn-in shoe that is softer is required.

Elite Syncopations’ vibrant and colourful costumes were originally designed by the late Ian Sterling, who worked in The Royal Ballet Costume Department. Was there any special preparation, design, or dyeing work for the shoes to match the costumes for this ballet?

Yes, a lot of preparation goes into matching shoes to costumes. From finding the right dye that will set on the shoes and not run, to finding the correct colour dye to match to the costume, which typically requires a match to the tights. Generally, finding the right dye colour requires testing and retesting colours to create one with the right tone and intensity as the tights, which is the most time-consuming element of the whole process. The actual application of the dye takes at least 10-15 minutes per pair of pointes, ribbons, and elastic.

Glass Concerto features costumes designed by acclaimed bridal designer George Wu. What shoes do the dancers wear for this neo-classical production?

The costumes are quite sleek and minimalist, so simple ballet flats and pointe shoes are all that are required for both the ladies and men in this one.

Natalie’s Weir’s We Who Are Left is a contemporary work featuring war-themed costumes. How do you match the shoe paint to the costumes?

The men will wear painted canvas flats, and the painting of the flats is similar to the dyeing process for the pointe shoes, except we use fabric paint instead of dye. The shoes will need to match a particular part of the costume which in this case will be to the military puttees. The process begins with a base colour that small amounts of other colours will be added to, until the right tone and intensity of colour is achieved to match the puttees. The challenge is to achieve a colour that will look ‘right’ on stage under the various lighting.

Are there any character shoes required in Li’s Choice?

Yes, there are boots in We Who Are Left and these need to look old and worn. Old boots for the whole cast were not easily found, so we purchased new boots and worked to distress them so they appear old and war-weary.

Was there anything particularly noteworthy or interesting about this season’s shoes?

The variety in this triple bill is quite unique! The bright vivid colours are a lot of fun, while the muted and earthy shades offer sombre vibes.

What happens to all the coloured shoes after this season ends?

It depends on how worn out the shoes are. Dancers will re-use their shoes until they quite literally fall apart at the seams, and they can often be seen wearing old performance shoes in class and rehearsals to get as much value out of the shoes as possible.

Inspired by Queensland Ballet dancers and the work our wardrobe team does? Show your support by gifting a pair of ballet shoes, and learn more about our Pointe Shoe Appeal here.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and perform. Long before we performed on this land, it played host to the dance expression of our First Peoples. We pay our respects to their Elders — past, present and emerging — and acknowledge the valuable contribution they have made and continue to make to the cultural landscape of this country.

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