Born in South Dakota, dance luminary David Hallberg is both the principal dancer in Russia’s Bolshoi and a member of the American Ballet Company.
Hallberg’s elegant physique and presence effect nobility. The New York Times intones: “His physical majesty fluently evokes the class distinctions of the European societies for whom ballet was developed, as do the courteous graciousness of his stage manners and the unforced distinction with which he carries his head. And in one particular respect — the dolphin arches of his feet — he’s phenomenal.
He comes into his own when jumping; the air is his home domain. He not only soars, but he also cuts a radiantly proportionate shape, tipped by the arcs of those stretched feet.”
“Since many ballerinas consider their shoes as almost extensions of their feet — vital pieces of equipment to help create the illusion that human beings were meant to dance on tiptoe — an entire unusual shoe culture crops up at dance companies.”
Michael Cooper of the New York Times describes how dancers at City Ballet, achieve an almost noiseless performance in their toe shoes. Before donning them, they pummel them. He describes:
- a nightly ritual of mercilessly whacking pink satin shoes against a cinder-block wall,
- the incessant shoe battery… BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! that echoes throughout the backstage area,
- the bending of shoes back and forth, and
- crushing them in doors.
These rituals create ‘old’ soft shoes, which are then worn in comfort and moved in noiselessly. At two pairs per performance and 10 or 12 pairs a week, the bill and the shoe-bullying can be a bit wearing.