These pointe shoes were obtained either in the few months before or after May 1977. I was attending a professional ballet class taught by Anna Northcote at what was Dance Centre in Covent Garden. I believe her class took place between 11:30 am -1pm each week day. [May 7, 1977 was the time of a performance, ‘Dance 77’, at The Playhouse, Oxford, of which I was the artistic director and among the choreographers and dancers who included also Maedee Dupres,Ruth Silk, Ilsa Burke and choreography by Royston Maldoom.]
A box of used pointe shoes was brought into Anna’s class, and we were told to help ourselves to whatever shoes fit. A slightly Cinderella scenario followed. I chose two pair which seemed to feel marvelous.When I returned to Oxford and looked again at the shoes, they had ‘Fonteyn’ written on the soles. I later confirmed with Freed’s that they were hers, because the woman could recognize the workmanship of the man who always made her shoes. Freed’s made me a similar pair [with a very low, slight block in the toe-good for bunions- but the man who had made her pair had recently retired.] I gave the second pair to a surgeon who saved my life and loved dance.
I last spoke to Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev after a performance in Boston which must have been circa 1969. It was in the middle of a blizzard- freezing, bitter wind, solid layers of ice underfoot. My date and I were the only people standing at the stage door when the each emerged into the icy night with its glare of neon street lights. Nureyev, bundled up in an overcoat with a scarf pulled up to his nose, said it had been a difficult performance because he had fever and was probably going to die. We reassured him that everyone felt that way in Boston winters. Then Fonteyn emerged. When she saw us, she broke into the most beautiful smile and thanked us graciously for our compliments. She was carrying a large bouquet of red roses and was less well bundled up. She reached into her bouquet and drew out a rose for me.
Both Nureyev and Fonteyn were tiny in stature,
delicate and fragile. Standing there, it seemed the wind might blow them away. They both looked as if they might break, they were so slight. This vulnerability made Fonteyn more beautiful and disturbing than perhaps some of today’s more technical dancers. I compare her to films of Pavlova in new footage which has turned up on Youtube.