In my world, few things ballet-related tug at my heartstrings more than the image of a solitary cobbler working quietly at his bench constructing a pointe shoe. Even though many reputable manufacturers employ large numbers of cobblers, there is something really beautiful about the lone pointe shoe maker who runs his own little shop servicing the individual needs of one dancer at a time.
Somewhere in the heart of downtown Paris, France is ( or was) such a shop. Here, a dancer could come in and have her pointe shoes made especially for her by Monsieur Dimitri Angelakov .
Who Is Dimitri Angelakov ?
From my hours researching the background of Monsieur Angelakov, I found only bits and pieces of his legacy online. There is a patent for the business name from the 1970’s. He is mentioned fondly on a French dance forum and on Facebook.
I don’t know his nationality or the journey he took to learn the craft of pointe shoe making. What I do know is that he was a very special man to the dancers who relied on him for their custom-made pointe shoes in that section of Paris.
Aux Fleurons De La Danse Translated Means: The Jewels Of The Dance
There is something so beautifully personal about the relationship between a pointe shoe maker and his client. The care and love that goes into making each shoe is obvious in the video.
Each layer, each pleat, every brush of glue and turn of satin is gently and patiently tended with the delicate touch of an artist.
These precious artisans are tucked away in obscure places, yet mean so much to the traditions of ballet.
As I write this, I am not 100% sure that Monsieur Angelakov is still here. The last activity noted for Aux Fleurons De La Danse on Facebook was in 2011. The web domain for his business, auxfleuronsdeladanse.com, expired last month.
Although custom-made pointe shoes are available online, nothing can compare to knowing and talking to the person who makes your shoes. If Monsieur Angelakov has indeed gone to that big cobbler shop in the sky, somewhere on the streets of Paris walks many a broken-hearted dancer.