Talking Shoes with Cinderella

Cinderella’s glass slippers are among the most famous fictional shoes in the world. Here at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, pointe shoes are just as important to our artists as Cinderella’s slippers were to her. We asked principal artist Hannah Carter, who will be portraying Cinderella in PBT’s upcoming production, to talk shoes!

You can see Hannah as Cinderella at The Benedum Center during the matinee performances of Cinderella with the PBT Orchestra on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 at 2:00 p.m.

Photo: Michael Henninger

Can you share the process involved in “breaking in” pointe shoes?
“I am quite ‘low maintenance’ when it comes to breaking in my shoes. I never choose a left and right shoe, I prefer to rotate them so they break in evenly. All I do before putting on a new pair is soften the back of the shoe a little so it’s more supple, and also the box area so I’m able to go through demi-pointe.”

How do you take care of your feet to minimize injury?
“Strengthening exercises are the best way to minimize injury, as well as icing after rehearsals at the end of the day. I also like to make sure I’m wearing supportive shoes outside of work.”

Photo: Aviana Adams

How long does a pair of pointe shoes last?
“It depends on the ballet we’re rehearsing at the time, I usually wear a new pair of shoes for 3-4 ballet classes until they become part of the rehearsal rotation and then they can last anywhere from 1-2 weeks. I typically go through 50/60 pairs of pointe shoes a season and I know that because I number them so that I can keep track of which shoes go together.”

Do you have a favorite brand of pointe shoes?
“Every dancer not only has a favorite brand of pointe shoe but a favorite maker within that brand. I wear Freeds and I use the maker ‘Heart.’ The shoes are custom-measured to my feet, even down to the amount of glue that is used based on how hard I need them.”

How old were you when you started on pointe?
“I was about 11/12 years of age. Before I put pointe shoes on, we did ‘pointe class’ in our bare feet… very basic at the barre, but that was to start strengthening before relying on the shoes to help us.”

What makes the Cinderella pointe shoes special?
“They are just my normal pointe shoes that I wear except the costume department will make them glittery and sparkly!! First I have to break them in like I normally would, then I’ll hand them in to Kaylee who is our

costume assistant and shoe manager and she’ll decorate them! We sell our used pointe shoes at the PBT boutique so I suppose these ones will be limited edition!! I’ll probably only have about 3 made up, so look out for them at the boutique next season!”

What are your favorite non-dance shoe styles?
“I don’t really have a favorite non-dance shoe style! I like to match my shoes to what I’m wearing, whether trainers, sandals, boots, etc. In the summer, I pretty much live in Birkenstocks, and in the winter, I stick to trainers and boots.”

What was your latest shoe purchase?
“ A pair of New Balance trainers.”

Hannah Carter of England joined PBT in 2013 after dancing as a corps de ballet member with Estonian National Ballet. She graduated from the Royal Ballet School with honors and has been a principal artist with PBT since 2016. Her repertoire with PBT includes performances of Swan Lake, Don Quixote and The Nutcracker. Hannah has also performed leading roles in Le Corsaire, La Bayadère, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet, among others.

Cinderella Shoes at the Benedum