Geddes celebrates 50 years at National Ballet

On stage, a ballerina’s feet are visions of beauty and grace, clad in pretty pink satin shoes with ribbons and supporting dazzling moves.

TORONTO — On stage, a ballerina’s feet are visions of beauty and grace, clad in pretty pink satin shoes with ribbons and supporting dazzling moves.

Once you take off the slippers, however, the sight is often “pretty devastating,” says Lorna Geddes, pointe shoe manager for the National Ballet of Canada.

“If you have one toe that’s a lot longer, they tend to have bunion problems,” Geddes, who is celebrating her 50th year with the dance company, said in a recent interview.

“They get blisters. I’ve seen them lose toenails and … they get really bad corns and even sometimes infections, and then you have to stop because your foot’s all swollen.”

“When you think your whole career is balanced on that little toe, you can see why it is a very serious thing to get the right shoe,” she said.

Geddes has been taking care of the dancers’ footwear needs since 1998, measuring their size, ordering their shoes from overseas and teaching them how to mould the hard material to suit their comfort.

But she got her start with the National Ballet as a ballerina in 1959.

Born in Waterloo, Ont., Geddes had been dancing since she was three and joined the troupe at age 16 following study with company co-founder Betty Oliphant.

In 1983, she was appointed assistant ballet mistress — a coach for the dancers — and a principal character artist, roles she still fills out on top of her shoe managing.

Her next on-stage appearance will be as the countess in Rudolf Nureyev’s The Sleeping Beauty.

Artistic director Karen Kain is staging the piece, which opens the company’s 2009/10 season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Nov. 13.

“I never dreamed that I’d still be here 50 years later,” said Geddes, standing in the National Ballet’s pointe room where the pink toes of hundreds of shoes poke out of floor-to-ceiling cubbyholes.

“I love it and it’s been my whole life.”

The dance company is also where Geddes met the love of her life, Hazaros Surmeyan, who joined the troupe in 1966. The two are married and have a 33-year-old son.

Surmeyan is also still character artist there and will dance with Geddes in the role of Catalabutte in “Sleeping Beauty,” she said.

“It’s never dull,” the 66-year-old Geddes said of her career, which has included such roles in recent years as the fairy godmother in Cinderella and the nurse in Onegin and Romeo and Juliet.

Geddes has been with the company through seven directors and three different versions of The Nutcracker, and suffered one sprained ankle.

To mark her 50th anniversary, Geddes plans to keep things low-key with a simple update to her scrapbook that she will pass down to her son one day.

Other ballet memorabilia in her home are her old pointe shoes.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Officials tour Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and local MLAs visit construction site

Bike thefts becoming ‘significant problem’ in Red Deer

Residents are sounding the alarm on the growing problem of bike theft… Continue reading

Red Deer approves 10 cannabis retail stores

Locations approved around the city

One trillion litres of sewage leaked into lakes and rivers over last five years

OTTAWA — Last Wednesday, a team of people from the Lake Ontario… Continue reading

Woman bitten at Red Deer dog park

Dog owners reminded to control their pets

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month