Ray is the crown maker and has been making pointe shoes for 26 years. Each maker has his own mark that they stamp on the sole of the shoe. This way the dancer can see who their shoes were made by and stick with that maker for life.
“There’s no wood in the block of a pointe shoe. Just paper, card, hessian and flour and water paste.”
Fred is the F maker and has been making pointe shoes for Freed for 42 years. He makes 40 pairs a day and still has a waiting list. He started off unloading lorries until three months later he was able to get on the bench.
Taksim also known as the anchor maker, was born in Cyprus and has been working as a pointe shoe maker for the past 15 years. He works 6 days a week so has never had time to go to the ballet.
“I have a passion from working here that is different to anywhere else. Meeting the dancers... It’s like we’re their superstars. Without us, they have no dance. Without them, we have no shoes to make. There is a mutual admiration.”
Laura Clarke is a 24 year old student at The RAD. “I was a bit late to train as a ballerina as I first found my love for it at 15 when my Dad took me to a ballet at The Grand Theatre in Swansea, Wales where I’m from. There is really nothing I would love more than to be in West End shows, just dancing.”
Xinjie Chai is a 19 year old student studying at The Royal Academy of Dance. Her Mother owns a dance school back home in China which has been running sice 1987.
“My Mother decided to send me to England so I could experience a different culture. This was my first time being such a long way from home and in my first year I suffered a lot from homesickeness but then I thought, I’m doing what I love.”