Feature

Twinkle Toes

In order to provide some extra fairy-tale shine to many of the shoes worn in Cinderella, the Wardrobe Department are adding individual Swarovski crystals. These provide more sparkle than sequins, and refract the light rather than simply reflecting it.

The crystals are attached to the shoes using a process called hot-stoning. Each one is in turn picked up with a device similar to a soldering iron. This heats and melts a layer of glue on the underside of the crystal without affecting the stone itself, allowing you to stick it to the fabric of the shoe.

'Stepping on something even that tiny could cause a dancer in full flight to slip or skid.'

Michael Clifford, Shoe Supervisor

‘The fabric is a man-made silk', explains Shoe Supervisor Michael Clifford. ‘The shoes arrive in plain white, and then I dye them pale grey before the crystals are attached.’

There’s no specific design or pattern for them,’ he reveals, ‘we’re just trying to put enough on to have the desired effect under the lights. We’ve got some spares so we can always add some more once we’ve seen how they perform in the stage rehearsals.’

It is important that the decorations don’t detach from the footwear mid-show, as stepping on something even that tiny could cause a dancer in full flight to slip or skid. As Michael says, ‘I’ve given some of the pairs a stretch and a twist to check that the crystals stay on and they seem up to the job’.

The use of these crystals is unusual, as the process of attaching them is so labour-intensive. ‘This is the first time I’ve ever used them’, says Michael. ‘There was a ballet about 20 years ago in which we used something similar, but back then there wasn’t such a process as hot stoning.

‘The only equivalent was to turn and old-fashioned iron upside down, and place them on it with a pair of tweezers to warm them up. But you wouldn’t do that unless you had a lot of them to do in a short space of time and no regard for health and safety!’