Category Archives: Vintage Pointe Shoes

Fascinating Vintage-The Hoffert Dancing Slipper

1952 ad Hoffert dancing slipperDo you know what I really love? That ballet can be just as fascinating when you go back in time as it is going forward; especially the shoes.

As a matter of fact, many vintage ballet shoe collectors probably wish they had unlimited funds to scoop up all the rare historical treasures they could get their hands on.

The most fascinating pointe shoe brands are the ones that were alive and well back in the 1920’s through the 1950’s.

I am enthralled with vintage dance shoe ads. These precious ads take us back to a time when pointe  shoes were called toe shoes or dancing slippers. As seen above in this 1952 ad from the Chicago Theatrical Shoe Company, an interesting selling feature was something they called the Italian toe.

No matter what type of toe they had, they are a lovely piece of memorabilia from the now long-gone Chicago Theatrical Shoe Company. Isn’t it amazing that some still survive? This is a great incentive to hang on to your old pointe shoes, or dancing slippers.

 

Vintage BalletDancing slipper……..it sounds so light and airy, graceful and romantic.

 

 

Vintage Barney’s Pointe Shoe Finds Safe Home In Maryland

Do you dream of having a great pointe shoe collection one day? Other than owning shoes that have been worn and signed by a world-famous ballerina, many collectors dream of getting their hands on a truly old and rare pointe shoe model.  My oldest pointe shoes date back to the 1980’s; vintage, yes, but not as vintage as a pair from the 1920’s or 1930’s.

Rare Models Of Vintage Ballet Shoes Are Treasures

Collecting very rare and vintage pointe shoes can also be a costly proposition for the average balletomane.  Most of us will never be able to get our hands on these rare finds simply because there are few, if any, left in the world.  Pointe shoes are typically discarded when they get worn out.  Not many of us still have our very first pair, unfortunately. If I had mine, they would now be 42 years old.

Young reader, save your first pair of pointe shoes. Believe it or not, you will get old some day and your ballet shoe brand may cease to exist making it precious and collectible.

Preservation Of The History Of Ballet Is An Important Job

There is good news, however. It costs nothing to look and admire vintage photos and old ballet advertisements! There are wonderful photos of old shoes and ballet stories available to the public through museums and historical societies. One in particular, The Historical Society Of Montgomery County, Maryland, has an amazing gemstone of a shoe verging on antique status.

Precious Ballet Memorabilia In  Montgomery County, Maryland

I was very elated when I discovered that the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Maryland has a wonderful post on their website about a rare vintage pointe shoe brand called Barney’s. The small shoe comes with an inspiring story about the donor and background information about the maker of the Barney’s shoe.

Vintage Barney's Pointe Shoe-Insole Liner

Barney’s maker stamp on insole. If this model is circa 1932, it is now 80 years old. Soon it will move from the vintage category to a genuine antique.

There is another photo of the whole shoe displayed and protected in a little case like a fine museum piece.  You can read the beautiful story attached to this shoe  and see the other photo here : A Little Ballet, 1920’s-30’s Style

Getting  Nostalgic About Vintage Pointe Shoe Advertisements

We can be thankful that there are people in the world dedicated to preserving artifacts of ballet history like old costumes, props and shoes. The old traditions of pointe shoe making and the techniques that cobblers used are kept alive through the work of volunteers, curators and historians. Even old ballet shoe advertisements have been preserved.

If you are older, you will be inspired when you take a trip down memory lane and view these vintage pointe shoe advertisements on Zandance.comScroll down towards the bottom of the page.

You will find old ads for Leo,  Capezio, Selva, Ben and Sally and yes, Barney’s! As usual, I always wonder what happened to some of the pointe shoe brands that disappeared from the ballet world. Why did Barney’s shoe model become obsolete? Did a larger company buy him out? Are there any living descendents of this cobbler that could come forward with more information?

Although we may never find out exactly why Barney’s pointe shoe manufacturing went out of business, it is apparent that they were very popular decades ago. The good news is that at least one fine example of this shoe is being lovingly cared for and protected by The Historical Society Of Montgomery County, Maryland.

If you happen to live near or in the State of Maryland, check out the origins and  behind-the-scenes dedication of the folks who run The Montgomery County Historical Society.

Repetto Pointe Shoes

Vintage Repetto Circa 1947

What a beautiful pair of pointe shoes these are! Someone must have taken very good care of them because they are in excellent condition.

Seeing antique and vintage pointe shoes inspires me even more to grow my pointe shoe collection.

When these Repettos were discontinued, most likely they flooded the market at a lower price. How lucky for those who were smart enough to buy a pair and hold onto them all these years.

These Repetto pointe shoes are now 63 years old. Just like fine wine, a pointe shoe like this just gets better with age…….

Bolshoi Pointe Shoes

The Mystery Of The Bolshoi Pointe Shoe

At first, I was very skeptical about writing this article. I wanted to write about the Bolshoi pointe shoes after obtaining enough information about them to have something to offer my readers.

After 2 months of very frustrating research, I’m right back to square one. I’ve decided to share my story and tell you everything I do know about them.

The first time I ever heard about Bolshoi pointe shoes was when my friend, Monica Newell, mentioned having photographs of pre-glasnost era pointe shoes. Monica is  the talented  head designer of Costume Creations in London and is deeply entrenched in the ballet world.

The Bolshoi Theater was in London in 1992. At that same time, Monica stopped by the Porselli Dance Shop near Covent Garden. There, inside a bargain bucket, were several pairs of Bolshoi pointe shoes. Loving the Bolshoi like she does, Monica instantly purchased the lot.

Knowing that the Bolshoi dancers were in town, Monica had a notion to stop by the Gandolfi shop and inquire about the Bolshoi pointe shoes. Lo and behold, the clerk produced 2 bags full of discarded Bolshoi pointe shoes. Monica purchased the second lot and has had them ever since.

Photographs of the Bolshoi pointe shoes were taken, and this is about as far as the story goes. I have spent numerous hours sending e-mails to various departments at the Bolshoi Theater with no response. I have tried contacting Bolshoi dancers through their Facebook pages, spoken with pointe shoe makers, and gone through listings of museums and dance historians only to come up empty- handed.

I was fortunate enough to be given one pair for my collection. The Bolshoi pointe shoes are a true Russian pointe shoe. They are incredibly hard! They are pre-arched with a v-vamp, high sides and heels, and no drawstring. The soles on the Bolshoi pointe shoes are totally unique. The leather is brushed for traction.

I have so many questions about these pointe shoes! Who made them? Why did the Bolshoi Theater stop making them? Did the dancers themselves complain about the shoes? Why is information about them so difficult to find?

The Bolshoi pointe shoes were made and used before 1985 which can make getting information about them difficult, but not impossible. If any of you have any advice, leads, or information about the Bolshoi pointe shoes please feel free to contact me. Any comments are welcome.

These pointe shoes are historical artifacts and a part of the wonderful legacy of the Bolshoi Theater. I believe that someone, somewhere, knows exactly what happened to these magnificent Russian pointe shoes…

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MONICA NEWELL/ COSTUME CREATIONS U.K.

Pointe Shoe Made by The Bolshoi Theater

Bolshoi Brand ballet-pointe shoes

Traditional Russian design with no drawstring

Bolshoi Pointe ShoesBolshoi pointe shoes

Bolshoi pointe shoe sole

Soles are brushed leather for traction

Bolshoi pointe shoes


Traditional Russian Pointe Shoes

These are traditional Russian pointe shoes. Notice how tapered the toes are and how tiny the platform is! Compared to the wide, boxy styles of today, balancing on these small areas must have taken incredible poise and determination.

Tiny platforms were created for maximum stage drama. Audiences were wowed by this. They also placed higher demands on dancer technique; par for the course when it comes to the strict world of Russian ballet training.

Toes were scrunched in to accommodate the ever-narrowing toe box. It must have felt wonderful to take these pointe shoes off at the end of day.