Project Summary

Each year, Smuin spends $35,000 on shoes for our 16 dancers to wear in rehearsals and performances. Please help us fund our shoe budget for the 2017/18 season by October 8!

Project Description

Smuin Contemporary American Ballet has a diverse repertory that calls for a variety of dance footwear.  The choreography is grounded in classical ballet, making pointe shoes the foundation of our work, as well as the single largest shoe expense each season; our female dancers will go through more than 200 pairs of pointe shoes a year.  But pointe shoes are not our only footwear cost.  In total, Smuin’s 16 dancers will go through more than 350 pairs of shoes this season.  All of our dancers wear flat ballet slippers, and many of them will wear a pair of specialty shoes, such as tap shoes or LaDucas, in The Christmas Ballet.  The chart below shows the breakdown of costs for our footwear expenses for our 2017/18 season.

The Breakdown
Cost What It Covers
$25  One pair of flat ballet slippers
$50  One roll of elastic, used to help keep the shoes on
$100  One pair of custom pointe shoes
$250  All of one male dancer's shoes for the entire year
$750  All of the tap shoes worn in The Christmas Ballet
$1,000  One female dancer's speciality shoes for The Christmas Ballet
$2,500  All of one female dancer's shoes for The Christmas Ballet
$8,000  All of the pointe shoes worn during a run of The Christmas Ballet
$35,000  All of our dancers' shoes for the entire 2017/18 season


Meet Company Dancer Tessa Barbour

Tessa likes to begin her morning ballet class wearing flat canvas ballet slippers.  The thinness of the shoe allows her to feel the floor, warming up her whole foot.  She then switches to pointe shoes for the second half of class.  Over the course of the rehearsal day, Tessa will wear her flat slippers, her pointe shoes, and, for part of Fly Me to the Moon, tap shoes.

Click here to hear Tessa talk about her relationship with her shoes.

All About Shoes

Smuin dancers primarily wear pointe shoes made by the illustrious Freed of London.  Since 1929, Freed has handmade pointe shoes in the United Kingdom.  Each shoemaker stamps the finished shoes with their own unique symbol, allowing dancers to differentiate between makers and identify favorites.  Dancers will often submit a list of customizations to their chosen maker to help achieve the perfect fit, which is critical for safe and secure dancing on pointe.  Once a dancer receives her shoes, she well then further customize them for herself, often using some of the tools and supplies pictured above.


Michael Smuin was known for his distinctly American style of choreography, often incorporating other dance styles into his ballets.  He saw no reason not to put jazz or tap onstage right alongside classical ballet.  In fact, Smuin first fell in love with dance as a child through tap before discovering ballet.  He incorporated tap into many of his works, including the popular “Bells of Dublin” section of The Christmas Ballet.  The video below shows a cobbler taking a pair of men's dress shoes and turning them into tap shoes.

The Company

Currently in its 24th season, Smuin pushes the boundaries of contemporary ballet within a distinctly American style.  Founded in 1994 by Tony and Emmy award-winning choreographer Michael Smuin, the Company is committed to creating work that merges the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance.  Since 2007, Artistic Director Celia Fushille has enriched the Company’s impressive repertoire with contemporary choreographic voices, commissioned world premieres, and collaborated with inventive choreographers from around the world.

Get Involved

  • Give today!  Help Smuin continue to put our best feet forward by supporting our "Feet First!' shoe campaign.
  • Attend a performance!  For more information about upcoming performances and to buy tickets, click here.
  • Connect with us!  Follow @smuinballet on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (and be sure to like and share!) 

Smuin is a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit corporation.  Our tax ID # is 94-3197247.  Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by U.S. law.

All photography by Maximillian Tortoriello.  Shot on location at the Academy of Ballet, San Francisco.