The Search for the Perfect Pointe
Published on 11/05/2018
Last month, audience favourite and Soloist with Queensland Ballet, Teri Crilly, retired from the stage after an incredible 10 years. She won’t be going far as she joins Queensland Ballet’s Internal & External Relations team. As Teri reflects on her 10-year performance career with Queensland Ballet, she shares with us her intimate journey of a professional dancer’s search for the perfect pointe shoe.
The search for the perfect pointe shoe is a career long journey for a ballerina. With the strive for perfection of our technique and artistry, also comes the desire to construct the perfect pointe shoe. As a professional female dancer your pointe shoes are your major tool. You can borrow leotards, tights, hair pins and blush, but YOUR specific pointe shoes; they are your identity as a ballerina. You must trust your shoes implicitly and they must fit like a glove, as though they are an extension of your foot.
I began my early ballet training in Western Australia and when the time had come and my teacher decided I was strong enough to start pointe work it was a two-hour drive to Perth to purchase a pair of pointe shoes. As a 12-year-old girl receiving my first pair of pointe shoes was a dream come true. It was the first real sense of achievement I had on my journey of becoming a professional ballerina. Would you believe I even slept in them the entire first night after purchasing them? This very first pair was a Bloch Serenade Strong and I still have them, 18 years later.
"Pointe shoes; they are your identity as a ballerina. You must trust your shoes implicitly and they must fit like a glove, as though they are an extension of your foot."
It was in 2008, after joining Queensland Ballet that I met Sallyanne, our favourite Bloch pointe shoe guru! When I was a young dancer never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could collaborate with Bloch to design the perfect shoe for my extremely petite foot. It was here that Bloch and I started our journey together to discovering the perfect customised pointe shoe for me.
I have so many fond memories of performing in different Bloch pointe shoe styles for different roles throughout the years. Between 2008- 2010 my pointe shoe was the Bloch Axiom and this shoe danced me through some amazing roles including my very first main stage soloist role in my first year at Queensland Ballet, Bluebird, in Francois Klaus’s The Sleeping Beauty. I found with my workload at the time I needed some extra strength in the shoes and Sallyanne found the perfect solution by changing the paste to paste A.
In 2010, I decided to make specific changes to the heel and vamp of my Axiom shoe to showcase my feet and again Sallyanne suggested more cosmetic changes to the upper enabling my foot to be shown to its best. This change got me through principal roles such as Clara in The Nutcracker and Kitri in Don Quixote.
"I have so many fond memories of performing in different Bloch pointe shoe styles for different roles throughout the years."
In 2013, I sustained a stress fracture to my second metatarsal and was unable to dance through the first two productions of Queensland Ballet’s 2014 season. I was devastated. Throughout this time, I spent several months in a moon-boot and rehabilitating my injury. Coming back from such a delicate foot injury I realised the importance of taking care of my feet and my body.
As I had spent several months off, both my foot structure and strength had changed. Sallyanne and I worked together to produce a shoe that was going to be both supportive and forgiving for all my time off. We developed a shoe with a lower vamp, to ease the pressure on my metatarsals and a ¾ shank, to allow me to build the strength back into my feet slowly. With great success this shoe danced me through some of my career highlight roles such as Cinderella in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Coppelia in Greg Horseman’s Coppelia, Cygnets in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake, Juliet’s friend in Sir Kenneth McMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Wendy in Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan and Sugar Plum Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker.My Bloch pointe shoes and I have been through a lot together through our 18 years when I got fitted for my very first pair of pointe shoes. They have supported me through hundreds of fouettés, countless hops en pointe and many grand pas de deux. My pointe shoes have been there to hold me up in photoshoots, both outdoors (complete with grass stains by the end) and indoors and they have travelled the world with me to places such as London, America, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and China.
My Bloch pointe shoes have supported me to become the ballerina I dreamed of being when I was that little 12-year-old ballet student relentlessly doing exercises to strengthen her feet, in the hopes that one day I could dance like my idols en pointe and land my dream job.
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Photo credits courtesy of The Queensland Ballet, photographers David Kelly & Christian, and Teri Crilly's personal photos.