One would imagine that having a ballet company full of dancers with bunions, hammer toe and sore ankles would be something like having a shop stocked with damaged goods. As such, the New York City Ballet goes to great extents to make sure its ballerinas have healthy feet. In fact, its efforts are so tremendous that someone made a film about it.
The documentary is titled Point Shoes: The Importance of The Perfect Fit, and it chronicles the shoe-buying process for the prestigious ballet company – a hefty endeavor, apparently.
$70 a day keeps bunions at bay?
Each principal ballerina gets a new pair of custom-made point shoes each day, costing about $70 per dancer and adding up to $500,000 each year for the company as a whole.
"I think every girl in the company would say their shoe is the most important part of the performance," said ballerina Megan Fairchild, quoted by the Huffington Post. "You want to make sure you don't have to worry about any extra things besides your dancing."
Every tailor-made pair of pointe shoes is subsequently busted, broken, shaven and sewn so they perfectly suit the preferences of each dancer. Sometimes, ballerinas will even tape their toes to keep blisters at bay – a common occurrence when one spends eight hours per day on their toes.
The man behind the curtain
The task of buying shoes for the dancers of the New York City Ballet is so involved that it's a job on its own. Angel Betancourt is the company's shoe supervisor, seeing to it that each dancer's feet are adorned with fresh, pink satin pointe shoes from Freed of London.
"Everybody here has specifications and the shoes are made according to that. If they cut the shoes wrong, they will know it, the ladies will know it," Betancourt said, quoted by the Daily Mail.
There is relief from foot pain for dancers
Ballerinas who return from rehearsal or a performance with sore toes may want to consider icing their feet and taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like aspirin or ibuprofen. Additionally, dancers who develop bunions may be interested to know that bunion splints and orthotics have been shown to reduce the appearance of bony deformities without bunion surgery.