POINTE is a documentary that seeks to unravel the enduring symbol of otherworldly grace that is the pointe shoe. The film explores the worlds of both the shoe makers and professional dancers at the English National Ballet, following the “life” of the pointe shoe from fabrication to the stages. It’s an examination of how the gritty realities of two art forms —shoe making and ballet— work together (without ever meeting one another) to keep the wheels of the world of professional ballet turning.
At Freeds of London, a professional dance shoe maker since 1929, has 25 makers create approximately 3,800 shoes per week, using the same process that was developed in 1929. Some of the machinery in the factory is still pre-war, Like the dancer, each maker has a particular style and expertise. As the pointe shoe manager, Gary Higgins, explains, not everyone is cut out to be a pointe shoe maker. Either people last a couple of months and then wash out, or they stick with it and work at Freeds for decades. There is no in between. Being a pointe shoe maker requires a dedication to the craft that isn’t required in most other jobs —with the obvious exception of professional ballet.
On the ballet side, we have Madison Keesler and other dancers of the English National Ballet as they prepare for a September performance. Madison wears Freeds shoes by the “bell maker,” a man she only knows from the symbol that is stamped on the bottom of her shoe —a symbol that he hand-stamped there himself. We explore the way that Madison, and the other dancers in her company, break in their shoes and manipulate their shoes to be what they need them to be for this performance. Their relationship to their shoes becomes all about making them one with their bodies, and reaching the goal of movement.
This film will be a juxtaposition of these two worlds, and the people who inhabit them —and the relationships that they have to one another, even if neither members fully understand that relationship.
Director: Sara Washington
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Dance Films Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non profit membership organization since 1956. All gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law.