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8 Dark rosin powder used by ballet dancers to prevent slippage

The deceased has long thought to have been a ballet dancer. He was muscular with highly developed calves and the bottom of his his feet were described by Paul Lawson in this way: The big and little toe were joined together towards a common apex, in other words wedge-shaped.


The rosin powder used by ballet companies is usually white or pale, depending on the availability of rosin at the time. Other rosins can be darker. Whichever one a ballet dancer uses will accumulate over time and the slipper will need to be cleaned of residue.

The accumulated powder brushed off, out.

Third down ..

“Shoes play the most important part in the ballerina’s life, and the toes are darned by each one according to her taste. A pair of shoes lasts one prima ballerina for about four or five ballets.”

applying rosin


20 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a fascinating story, thanks for sharing 🙂

    December 21, 2017
  2. Clive #

    The”Singleton Argus” 16 Sept 1946 Page 1, mentions about “American Ballet may come to Australia”. (in 1947), Perhaps if not the whole company, then a few individual ballet dancers returned to Australia in the late 1940’s? Certainly this premise that the SM was a ballet dancer should keep everyone on their toes.

    December 21, 2017
    • I know where you live Clive, one more pun and that’s me knocking on your door late one night.

      December 21, 2017
  3. Google NKGB and Ballet. Ballerinas were popular.

    December 21, 2017
  4. Clive #

    In a way, it must have been a double-edged sword. Ballerinas, I’m sure could have been trained to spy/report on the West, or any other non-communist country. Then again, being allowed to travel outside the USSR also meant, ballerinas could and did defect. Which leads us to the SM-was he a defector?

    December 23, 2017
  5. Ellen #

    He was reported to have quite a tan.

    December 27, 2017
  6. The foot on bottom right looks nicely ‘wedge-shaped’, you reckon, Clive?

    January 7, 2018
  7. I think it more likely the dancer in the picture used the flat side of her big toe to raise herself into the pointe position ….

    January 7, 2018
  8. Ellen #

    Those toes are hard to look at. ☺

    January 9, 2018
  9. We have tools that could be used to make ballet slippers, a brush to clean them of rosin powder, rosin powder shaken out of the brush, ballet dancer’s calves and ballet dancer’s feet … and young Robin Thomson, a ballet dancer.

    It’s all looking a bit obvious as to what he was. Finding out who he was might need a little more time, but we like the Ballets Russes, who, by the way, never performed in Russia.

    January 9, 2018
  10. Byron Deveson #

    Judging from what I have been able to discover it appears that the number of sports, activities or occupations that significantly exercise the calf muscles is quite limited. These are: dancing, tennis, cycling, cross country skiing, soccer and sports involving running and jumping. “Calf muscles are used in every running, jumping, dancing activity as well as some kicking activities such as soccer and martial arts.” Quoted from “Coaching and Teaching Female Athletes and Dancers”, by Chris Wells, Kari Fasting, Diane Daum.
    I have checked each of these activities and it appears that ballet dancing is the only one that can give the wedged shaped toes that SM is said to have had.
    Previously I wasn’t very hot on the hypothesis that SM was a ballet dance, but I am now warming to the idea.

    January 10, 2018
  11. Temperature’s rising over here ..

    January 10, 2018
  12. Byron, regardless of where the RoK was said to to have been found and by whom, there has been no explanation given as to why Leane didn’t give the newspapers the opportunity to photograph it.

    January 10, 2018
  13. Mark #

    but if you wander the beaches you might occasionally see people in shorts and a (sometimes sleeved) shirt sitting on a towel reading a book. Not all beachgoers are there for a tan or a swim – but the sun likes to crisp them up some anyways…
    Wouldn’t totally dismiss the idea of him being a local simply because he seems to have attended the beach in budgie-smugglers (artisitic licence) and a shirtt….

    January 11, 2018
    • If he was local somebody would have known him. We’ve been chasing these what ifs for seventy years, Mark, now we know more.

      January 11, 2018
  14. Clive #

    Lewiansto, Interesting photo, even more so when you learn that the L-B ballet put on displays at the RNSH in the 1930’s. Before Jessie’s time, but still intriguing?

    January 12, 2018
    • lewiansto #

      I did get a bit excited when I saw that they had performes at the Royal North Shore Hospital fetes. Unfortunately as you point out the dates don’t line up. However, some of thr dancers did leave the company and joined/formed new companies in Australia. Will have to do some digging and see if perhaps having a ballet performance at the RNSH fetes continued into the 1940s with other troupes

      January 12, 2018
  15. Clive #

    I input Lightfoot-Burlakov First Australian Ballet on Google. Look at: There is a long list of ballet dancers (female/male) and supporting staff-intriguing to say the least!

    January 12, 2018
  16. From what I’ve learnt, male ballet dancers may be divided into two classes: ones that spend most of the bill dancing on the balls of their feet and the leading lights, that is to say those who have mastered dancing en pointe.
    Ballet Rambert Australian tour (1947 – 1949)Ballet Rambert Australian tour (1947 – 1949)

    Years ago someone posed the thought that the code may have been a memory shortcut for a ballet repertoire …

    January 12, 2018
  17. Francis # “production staff” Covent Garden Ballet Company (sorry, that pic not good enough to really see him)

    January 15, 2018

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