What have Alina Cojocaru, Natalia Osipova and Viengsay Valdés got in common? Well yes, they are all ballet dancers. And yes, they have all danced Giselle. But think more deeply… They've all got dark hair? Now you're just being silly. I'll have to tell you. They all have shoes made with solar power! But I expect you'd already guessed that.
America's Cardinal Shoe Corp, manufacturers of Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, have installed 1,092 solar panels on the roof of their factory in Massachusetts. They are capable of generating 273,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which means that the company's electricity bills will be halved.
Owner Richard Bass says he has “the largest solar-powered ballet shoe factory on the planet”, and it is quite probably the only solar-powered ballet shoe factory in existence. Talking to the Eagle Tribune, Bass said that the installation will pay for itself in four years.
Bass, with his father and brother, founded Cardinal Shoe in 1962 in the town of Lawrence, so this year marks their 50th anniversary. The company started out making women's shoes, and at its peak in the 1980s it was turning out more than a million pairs a year. But as the boom years passed, Bass realised it was time to move into a more specialised market, and, under the name of Gaynor Minden, they started producing ballet footwear. The shoes are now shipped to 93 countries and clients include the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet.
The client list is impressive: Anastasia Matvienko, Olesia Novikova, Alina Somova, Yekaterina Kondaurova, and Evgenia Obsraztsova from the Mariinsky; Natalia Osipova and Yekaterina Shipulina at the Bolshoi; Alina Cojucaru and Zenaida Yanowsky at the Royal Ballet; Viengsay Valdés from the Cuba Ballet; and American Ballet Theatre's Veronika Part. Oh yes, and the Trocks!
Alina Cojocaru, a long time user of their shoes, can now say that not only are her shoes pink, but they are also green.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.