For a dancer, visiting a pointe shoe factory is like visiting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Gorgeous shiny pointe shoes all lined up in a row…
Is this heaven?
Yes. Yes it is.
Piece by piece, layer by layer, pointe shoes are constructed from slabs of leather, sheets of burlap and satin into these perfect pink beauties.
I visited the Capezio factory in New Jersey last week, and you will not believe the amount of work and dedication it takes to make a single shoe.
Here is the basic idea:
1. Slabs of leather are stamped out to make the sole of the shoe.
2. Sheets of satin are cut into a half-moon shape, then sewn together with pieces of canvas (this will be the inside lining). This piece of satin is sewn together on one end to make the heel portion of the pointe shoe.
3. The elastic drawstring is then sewn into a casing that will surround the mouth of the shoe.
4. The part of the satin that will make up the box (the front part of the pointe shoes that encases the toes) is then layered with glue and pieces of burlap.
5. Then the satin is wrapped around a last (these are hard objects shaped like feet that shoe makers build their shoes around) inside out and the leather sole is sewn into the shoe.
6. After the sole is sewn on, the shoe is turned inside out so the satin is now on the outside (this is called the turn shoe method). The box is then hammered into shape, smoothed out and the platform (the tip of the pointe shoe the dancer balances on) is flattened so it can stand on its own.
7. The shoe is then washed so the satin is nice and clean and smoothed out one more time to make sure it’s in perfect shape.
8. When the shoe is ready, it is moved to a dry, heated room to allow the shoe to harden.
That’s how magic happens.
Beautifully crafted and molded into shoes that make dreams come true. No wonder there are so many variations even in the same model and size!
Then I realized, pointe shoes is not about being perfect. Art is not about being perfect.
Perfection is boring. The human touch leaves poetry in each shoe, and without it, it would lose its soul.
Just another reason why you don’t just get pointe shoes, you earn them.
Thank you, Mr Salvatore Capezio.
Your legacy lives on.
At your service,