Page last updated at 07:52 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Straight to the pointe: How a ballet shoe is made

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The pointe shoe is intrinsic to ballet performances - and this year's production of festive favourite The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Royal Ballet is no exception.

So why are pointe shoes so important, and how does it feel to dance in them?

Gaylene Cummerfield, who stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy at the Birmingham Hippodrome, takes time out of rehearsals to explain more.

And Bob Martin, designer of the Innovation Pointe shoe, and Birmingham Royal Ballet shoe supervisor Michael Clifford explain how they are made and what it takes to look after them.

Produced by the BBC's Claudia Redmond and Richard Moss

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