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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Auction to foot ballet shoe bill
Ballet shoes
Birmingham Royal Ballet has to import some dancers' shoes
A ballet company is auctioning off hundreds of costumes to help foot the 100,000 bill for kitting out its dancers with shoes.

About 400 costumes belonging to Birmingham Royal Ballet are going under the hammer at the city's Hippodrome theatre on Tuesday.

Fans and patrons of the Ballet will also be given the opportunity to sponsor a dancer's shoes.

The proceeds from the auction will go towards to the Ballet's Shoe Appeal.

The company's 65 dancers get through about 2,000 pairs of slippers every year at a cost of about 100,000.

Dancers 'particular'

Sian Pritchard, a spokeswoman for the Ballet, said: "Ballet shoes cost an average of about 45 each but the price can vary a lot, depending on where they are from and whether they are a traditional pointe shoe or a soft shoe.

"Professional dancers are very particular about the shoes they wear and many have to be imported.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the public, collectors and theatrical and dance groups to acquire rare articles
Artistic director David Bintley
"The Russian ballerinas usually want Russian shoes, and the Italians only want Italian ones."

Karina Hernandez, a former soloist ballerina at the Birmingham Royal Ballet, said: "They get worn out very quickly, you just feel when it's not right and you have to change.

"It is vital that the ballerina has exactly the right shoes."

Artistic director David Bintley, said: "The costumes up for sale are from over 30 past productions and are made by the best theatrical costumiers in the business.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the public, collectors and theatrical and dance groups to acquire rare articles from our past productions, often worn by great stars of the dance world."

The event is to be filmed by ITV 1's Everything Must Go auction programme, to be presented by former ballet star Wayne Sleep.

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