Craftsman Sergei Murza runs his fingers over the pink satin of a pointe shoe he has simply completed making. Then he offers it the ultimate check: the ballet slipper balances completely on its tip.
Murza produces the footwear within the Moscow workshop of Grishko, an organization born within the chaos of the collapse of the Soviet Union and now one of many world’s prime makers of ballet pointe footwear.
In a rustic higher identified for exporting oil and arms, Grishko is a uncommon success story for Russian craftmanship, its footwear bought across the globe and gracing the phases of the world’s prime ballet venues.
It’s hardly shocking, founder Nikolay Grishko says, given the aura that surrounds Russia’s storied ballet custom.
“It’s in Russia that classical ballet has reached its highest degree, ” says the 71-year-old, who based the corporate greater than 30 years in the past and continues to run it.
Grishko has diversified into clothes and different forms of dance footwear, however the ballet line is the corporate’s coronary heart and soul.
Almost 80 p.c of its manufacturing is for export, with the US – the place the footwear promote below the model title Nikolay – and Japan the highest patrons.
Impressed by the liberalisation of the Soviet Union below Mikhail Gorbachev, Grishko arrange the corporate in 1988.
A former diplomat posted in Laos and economics professor, he discovered inspiration near dwelling.
“My spouse was a dancer… I already knew what pointes had been, ” he says in his workplace on the manufacturing facility, dapper in a darkish swimsuit and black-rimmed glasses.
When he launched the enterprise, Russia’s huge theatres just like the Bolshoi had their very own in-house workshops making pointes. That custom is now gone, however the experience constructed up over centuries lives on in his firm.
“I took the most effective of the custom of Russian pointes, which have been made because the finish of the 19th century. This custom was handed on within the theatre workshops however virtually disappeared after the autumn of the Soviet Union” in 1991, says the Ukrainian-born Grishko.
In the present day he employs greater than 500 individuals at workshops in Moscow, the Czech Republic and Macedonia. In Russia, a pair of Grishko pointes sells for the equal of 30 euros (RM140), in western Europe about twice that.
The Moscow workshop is housed on the grounds of the historic Hammer & Sickle Manufacturing unit, a Soviet-era establishment that when housed a metal plant.
Grishko’s grasp shoemakers work in silence as they produce 32,000 to 37,000 pairs of pointes monthly, utilizing solely pure supplies.
Cats roam across the work tables as artisans minimize fabric, make their very own glue, assemble the footwear and dry them in ovens, earlier than a meticulous verify for high quality.
Amongst them are some 70 people who find themselves deaf or onerous of listening to, says Irina Sobakina, the 53-year-old deputy head of manufacturing, praising “the upper sensitivity of their arms”.
Within the stitching workshop, Olga Monakhova, who’s 56 years outdated and has labored on the manufacturing facility for 27 years, remembers orders from well-known dancers like Anastasia Volochkova and Nikolay Tsiskaridze.
Throughout the capital in her studio, dancer Alexandra Kirshina completes a rehearsal on pointes made particularly for her.
“We put on them always, so it’s vital that they match completely, ” says the 28-year-old soloist for the Moscow Ballet.
“I used to bop in plastic pointes and I had huge issues with my ft.”
Star dancers can undergo as much as 30 pairs of pointes a month, however professionals account for less than 10% of Grishko’s patrons. Most gross sales go to ballet faculties.
Grishko says he’s even seeing a brand new form of shopper: girls who, bored with “boring cardio workout routines” and treadmills, are taking on ballet to maintain match. – AFP