Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep a ballet company on it’s toes, how many hours they dance in a year, how many miles of shoe ribbon they use or how many pirouttes there are in The Nutcracker ?
Wonder no more…
- English National Ballet has 64 dancers from 20 countries
- The dancers’ day starts at 10.30am with ballet class and they can be in the theatre as late as 11pm after a long performance such as Romeo & Juliet or Swan Lake. They dance for an average of 2032 hours a year.
- In the pas de deux in The Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy performs 62 pirouettes (including 16 “fouettés” turning on one leg) and 11 jumps.
- Each female dancer gets an allowance of up to 10 pairs of pointe shoes per month, costing the Company more than £100,000 per year.
- The dancers use pinky-white make-up to matt their shoes and to keep them looking clean. They use the same make-up on their bodies to achieve the white, ethereal look required for Swan Lake or Giselle.
- Every time a dancer jumps on pointe, three times her body weight is carried on the tip of her big toe.
- One dancer may take 3 or 4 roles in each ballet – that means changing costume, hair, make-up and shoes each time. That’s approximately 24 transformations per performance week. Madonna would be proud!
- Every step of every ballet is recorded using Benesh notation – a method of drawing the movements on a five-line music stave, so that it can be recreated exactly as first intended with new dancers in the future.
- Because many of the costumes are so intricate and delicate, it is impossible to wash them between performances. Such costumes are hung to air between shows and sprayed all over with freshener.
- The Company gives an average of 140 performances per year.
- English National Ballet’s dancers used more than 4992 pairs of pointe shoes last year.
- Every female dancer has to learn to sew to make sure their shoes are supported correctly with ribbon and elastic.
- ENB have a shoe mistress who must measure each dancer’s feet (in up to 26 places) to ensure they are wearing the correct type of ballet shoes and in performance, the shoe mistress dyes the shoes to exactly match the costume of each dancer.
- A dancer playing the title role in The Sleeping Beauty might use up to three pairs of shoes for one performance!