My Favorite Pointe Shoes
It may come as a surprise, but my favorite pointe shoes aren't shoes I would ever dance in. They're a very precious pair of old pointe shoes, given to me when I was a child by Royal Ballet principal Brenda Last.
She gave them to me when the Royal Ballet came to our town. It wasn't a big town and short on hotels, so the company advertised for families to host a dancer for the season - and bless her heart, my mother volunteered! We had two dancers billeted with us - Brenda Last and Nicholas Johnson.
I was so excited to have a real ballerina staying in our home, and it was fascinating to see how a dancer lived. She got up late, leaving for the theatre around 10 am. She wouldn't get home until after the performance, of course - nearly midnight sometimes - and would then tuck into a hearty dinner. She was so tiny, you wondered where all the food went!
My mother felt so proud of "our" dancers that naturally, when it came to choosing which ballets we would see, she made sure to we went on the nights they were in the main roles. We saw Brenda as the Can Can dancer in La Boutique Fantasque (which I made a sketch of when I got home - see pic right). After the performance, she gave me the pointe shoes she had worn.
A couple of years later, when I went to see the film Tales of Beatrix Potter, I noticed something familiar about the Black Pig's feet and style of dancing. Sure enough, it was Brenda!