Fancy Footwear in Wonderland
Q&A with Footwear Coordinator Lacey Hammond Harrington
March 5, 2019
As Footwear Coordinator, what does your job entail?
I am responsible for coordinating and organizing all of the dancers’ footwear needs outside of pointe shoes. This includes ordering character shoes, boots and other shoes, painting, dying and embellishing all footwear, as well as fitting dancers. My work depends on the production and whether it's a new or returning work – some shows may not require shoes beyond slippers and pointe shoes, so I use that time for maintenence work. I also prepare all the footwear and corresponding paperwork for our Footwear Assistant so that the show can run smoothly when the company moves to the Four Seasons Centre. The first time I watch a show that the shoes I’ve worked on are in, I almost don’t watch the show – I only watch the shoes!
Why do dancers require shoe fittings?
Shoes are very specific to each dancer. We take measurements every couple of inches down from the knee, over the heel and down through the foot. Like pointe shoes, a lot of our boots are custom made by a maker in the UK and each dancer often has his own pair per role. Even if shoes are bought off the rack – for instance, in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the White Rabbit wears Converse in the epilogue – they still have to be fit because dancing in a shoe is very different than just walking in them. When you’re dancing in a running shoe, they need to be quite tight so that the dancer can feel the floor. Often a dancer will go down a full size from what they typically wear in a street shoe.
Why is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland an exciting production to work on?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland includes 284 pairs of footwear that are not pointe shoes. This includes traditional footwear like ballet slippers and leather boots but also heeled court shoes, wellingtons, tap shoes and gold Indian slippers. There are also several different coloured pointe shoes in the production including two plaid pairs, as well as the embellished shoes worn by the dancers in the Caterpillar’s body. Eight dancers form these legs, so at least 8 pairs of pointes need to be prepared. The entire process takes me three hours per pair and consists of mixing the perfect colour of dye and paint, dying and painting and, finally, the embellishment. This includes gluing on 100 Swarovski crystals individually for each pair of shoes!
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is onstage March 7 – 17, 2019.
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