Interview with Ballerina Lou Spichtig, Queensland Ballet
Why are the brand new pointe shoes so uncomfortable? Are yours tailored and hand made?
Pointe shoes are made to be hard and rigid in order to support your entire body weight on a platform only a few centimeters wide. I wear custom made Bloch pointe shoes now, and while it did take a long time to find the right fit, I now hardly have to do anything before wearing them.
What is needed to customize them?
I sow ribbons and elastics so the shoe stays on my foot. I then pour wood polish into my shoes to harden them, always letting them dry in between coats. I need about two or three coats, in particular under the arch of my foot to have enough support and make the shoe last longer.
What are your secrets to make them comfortable?
I have wide, very square feet, so I cannot take up much more space in the shoe with padding. If I don’t protect my big and little toe, I get terrible corns. I cut little squares out of silicone heel protectors and place them on those toes to absorb the impact. I wrap my toes with a piece of chux wipe to avoid the sweat breaking down the shoe too quickly. They are great, because I can throw them out after wearing them!
I use hand sanitizer to soften the side of the shoes, where the toe joints are, to give myself more space and be able to roll through demi-pointe. If I feel like the outer leather sole is thicker than usual, or I need to balance on a flat foot, I will shave off a layer of the sole with a Stanley knife!I then stand on the box of the shoe to flatten and crush it.
Just before putting on the shoes, I very lightly bend the top section of the sole under my heel, so they follow the line of my foot well. I struggle to wear very soft shoes, so I use jet glue to harden any spots that are giving away as I wear my shoes.
© Lou Spichtig
How long does that whole process take?
I have to remember to pour the polish into my shoes a couple days ahead, to make sure it can fully dry. I need roughly fifteen minutes to sow the ribbons and elastic onto my shoes.
I like to bend and crush the shoes just as I am about to wear them for class, so I will do that, while the balletmasters set an exercise. It only takes a few seconds!!
How many point shoes do you need in one months or week?
Depending on the weather, Queensland can be very humid, my shoes last anywhere from a single class to a full week, or more if I rotate them. I usually have about 10 pairs of shoes to choose from at any time!
Thanks to Lou Spichtig for sharing her secrets about pointe shoes. Photo on Top © by Lou Spichtig
More about Lou’s experience at the Queensland Ballet – Interview in German
Lou Spichtig, Company Artist at Queensland Ballet
Den Haag, The Netherlands
Age Started Dancing
3 and a half
Tanzakademie Zürich, Switzerland
Joined as a Company Artist in 2016
- Every choreography that I was a part of the creative process!
- Solo Swan & Cygnet in Alexei Ratmansky’s Swan Lake
- Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
- Lise in La Fille mal gardée
- Giselle in Giselle
- The Chosen One in Richard Wherlock’s The Rite of Spring
Roles Would Love To Dance
- Having a full length story ballet created on me… something dramatic & heartwrenching!
- The tragic heroines: Giselle, Manon, Juliet, Tatiana (the more drama, the better 😉 )
- One role in particular: Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle (It’s rare women can be cold and cruel on stage), but I will probably never dance it, being a very petite dancer!
- 27th Varna International Ballet Competition in 2016 – Gold Medal, Emil Dimitrov Award for Young Talent and Sylvia Award for Promising Young Dancer
- Friends of Ballett Zürich: Outstanding Dancer Junior Company Season 15/16
- Prix de Lausanne 2015 – Audience Favorite Award and Best Swiss Candidate Award
- Migros Kulturprozent Scholarship in 2014 & 2015
- South African International Ballet Competition 2014 – Silver Medal
- Youth America Grand Prix, NYC Finals 2013 – Gold Medal and Dance Europe Outstanding Artistry Award
- Tanzolymp Berlin 2012 – Gold Medal
Source: Information about Lou by the Queensland Ballet – http://www.queenslandballet.com