What happens to all the pointe shoes? – Catherine

9 Aug

How many extra pointe shoes are laying around 890 Broadway?  The answer is – nobody knows exactly but I can assure you it is probably close to a thousand pairs.  The dancers of the company get shoes ordered for them as part of their contract, but sometimes they change shoe sizes or brands or retire and the orders aren’t updated quickly enough.  The resulting bags of extra shoes sit somewhere, unorganized in storage.  One on-going project in the Education department has been inventorying these shoes, organizing them by brand, size, and dancer to put into a storage room filled with bags.  We sell these extra pointe shoes to the summer intensive students and the teachers undergoing teacher training during their lunch break for discounted prices.

There are so many shoes that we’ve had to put a system into place where we keep a closet full of “sample shoes” to try on.  One pair of every type of shoe we have in storage is kept in this closet and we can give these shoes to the dancers to try on to see if any of them fit.  If they like any of the pairs, we go back to the storage room to fetch them however many new pairs of that shoe that they request.  After a summer of working in the “pointe shoe store,”  Leah, Jillian, and I have gotten an oddly thorough crash course in pointe shoes – converting sizes between street shoe sizes and brands and noting which brands are more popular and keeping track of how many shoes are left within the right type.  We are by no means professional fitters, but we sell the shoes to people who are comfortable enough on pointe to understand when the shoes fit and when they don’t.

You could find us on the fourth floor “store” every day usually from 1 to 2 PM, helping out our customers.  Besides the pointe shoes, we also sell extra leotards, skirts, and flat shoes (both women’s sizes and men’s sizes).  The leotards used to be the uniforms for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School located at ABT, but they recently changed uniform distributors and have a brand new line of dancewear for this fall.  During our busiest times all three of us might have our hands full (literally) helping customers find the right shoe. There were also sometimes lulls in customers, during which we could inventory the never-ending supply of shoes that somehow keep magically turning up!

Working in the store has been a fun time – it’s a time where we get to meet and interact with the students in the intensive and the teachers undergoing teacher training.  It’s inspiring to meet such dedicated individuals.  Leah, Jillian, and I have joked that perhaps we should open up our own dancewear store after our internship ends!

A photo of our sample shoe closet! Each pair in there is a different size and style. We’ve tried to organize each shoe by brand and size, though there are different styles, widths, and makers within each category.

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