Art: What to Do with 164 Old Ballet Shoes?

ballet shoe projectCary, NC- What do you get when you mix boxes of ballet shoes, a team of artists and a penchant for recycling and re-use? The Ballet Shoe Project. That’s what three Cary nonprofit arts organizations, The Fine Arts League of Cary, Cary Creative Center , and The Cary Ballet Company are working on as they collaborate on an art installation that will open this Saturday at the Cary Ballet Conservatory. All in time for National Dance day

 164 Pointe Shoes

The project, a permanent piece of art, is made up of 164 donated pointe shoes, designed, decorated,  painted, and strung together with fine wire.  All of the shoes are a uniquely designed, handmade by each artist, in a wide variety of styles.  After the project is put out for public viewing, it will be hung as a permanent work of art at Cary Ballet Conservatory. The total size for the piece will be 18’w x 13.5′ long. A poster announcing the project is being circulated so that the public can come out to the first viewing, posters will be available for sale on the Facebook page for the project.

Birth of the Ballet Shoe Project

The shoes were donated by the Cary Ballet Conservatory. The Fine Arts League of Cary (FALC) is a source of the artwork every three months at the Cary Ballet Conservatory and the organization was a natural for Suzanne Murley to contact about these shoes. They were old but never used and it Murley felt it would be a shame just to toss them in the trash. Because of their age, the shoes would not stand the rigors of dancing.

Betsey Dassau serves on on the FALC Board, and was interested in the reuse /no trash nature of this. The idea grew and the FALC board decided they would take this on as a major project.  The Cary Ballet Company added the idea of a  ‘show” in conjunction with National Dance Day, July 27th.

This past February 2013 the idea began to take shape. and came up with a two person committee to design the project. Dassau and Janice Verdon, FALC member, became a 2-person committee to head up the endeavor.


Mobile Inspiration

Inspired by a mobile she saw at the NC Museum of Art’s gift shop, Dassau was inspired by a simple mobile in the gift shop. she came up with the concept that will be used for the Ballet Shoe Project. The artists would decorate the individual shoes and then  “string” the shoes together to make a big art installation, rather than just use individual shoes as individual works of art.

The committee presented the idea to Suzanne Murley and thought it would make a wonderful permanent installation and a gift of FALC, Cary Creative (Reuse) Center and The Cary Ballet Company to the Cary Ballet Conservatory. All parties signed on and the Project was started.

29 Artists

After a “Call For Artists” , a total of 29 artists have joined in creating this work of art. Artists picked up shoes from Cary Creative Center (C3) where they were stored. Pairs were distributed- some artists took 1 pair and made them as matching shoes in their art, some took more shoes and made them up as individual works of art.  All artists were either FALC members or volunteers with Cary Creative Center (C3). The shoes were all returned in a new state by June 28th.

Final Assembly

The final assembly is taking place this Friday July 26, at the Cary Senior Center  The previous work in assembling the artwork was accomplished at the VFW Hall, Post 7383 on Reedy Creek Rd.  during the week of the 4th of July. Lead person is Janice Verdon in the execution of the layout, placement and stringing of the shoes. Primary assistants were Aarthi Kannan, teen volunteer at C3 and participating artist, Rose Firestone, Gayle Atwell, Carolyn Mitkowski, Jennifer Sturms and Betsy Dassau. Installation at the Cary Ballet Conservatory is on Friday July 26th and the reception is at 12:30 PM on Saturday July 27th.

The final piece will contain a total of 164 individual shoes, and will be made in three sections – each 6 feet wide. The completed piece will be 18 feet wide by 13-1/3 feet long. The art installation will permanently hang in the atrium entrance of the Cary Ballet Conservatory. The front of the Conservatory is glass, with a two story atrium. The piece will hang in such a way, that shadows cast from the shoes will be part of the installation, creating movement throughout the day.

The work incorporates visual art, movement and dance .

Event Info

Ballet Shoe Project
Opens Saturday, July 27th, at 12:30
National Dance Day

Cary Ballet Conservatory
3791 NW Cary Parkway
Cary, NC

The public is invited to view the new artwork.

2 replies
  1. Betsy Dassau
    Betsy Dassau says:

    Thank you Lindsey!- it is a very impressive and fun work of art. We hope the public stops by on this Saturday in celebration of National Dance Day and to welcome the art in its new home! at the Cary Ballet Conservatory on Cary Parkway.

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