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Michael Clifford

  Michael has been the Birmingham Royal Ballet Shoe Master for 15 years. It is a role that found him when he was working in the menís wardrobe department. His background before working at BRB was theatre and musical theatre so the world of ballet was new to him.

Typically, the world of ballet for Michael is full of feet, shoes, measuring of legs, last-minute changes and repairing shoes. The role of the Shoe Master is extremely important as without the correct and well fitting shoes dancers are more prone to injury.
As with many of the BRB technical staff there is not a typical day for Michael as the Company is constantly dancing different repertory and performing both in the UK and internationally. However there are key tasks and areas the Shoe Master is responsible for.

The responsibilities of a Shoe Master in a typical season at BRB
• At the beginning of a season, any new dancers to BRB will visit Michael as soon as they start and he will draw around their feet on a paper chart and measure the key areas of the foot, ankle and leg.
• These measurements will remain with Michael and will be copied and passed onto the specific shoe construction company / maker the dancer has requested. At BRB the dancers pointe and character shoes are sourced from all across the world including Freeds of London and other companies in Germany, Australia and Russia.
• Any new pointe and character shoes for a production will need to be sprayed in the Shoe Spray room. For the production of The Rite of Spring over 200 shoes had to be hand painted.
• Michael is responsible for organising and supervising the shoes both for performances and rehearsals on tour. This involves sourcing and packing all of the pointe and character shoes and watching performances to ensure the shoes perform well on tour.

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