When performing a dance, impressing the audience is one of the main objectives, and the clothes you wear will play a significant role in this. This is why for most dancers, knowing that the dancewear they own is good quality is highly important no matter what their ability. One of the most recognised dancewear brands for producing high quality dancewear is called Capezio. Dancewear made by this worldwide company has been worn by dancers ranging from novices to major stars for over 100 years. However, it’s beginnings were very humble.

The company was started by a man named Salvatore Capezio who was born on April 13th 1871 in Muro Lucano in Italy. He grew up in Italy where he trained to become a cobbler but by the time he reached 16 years of age in 1887, he had already emigrated to the United States of America where he opened a cobbler’s shop at Broadway on 39th Street in New York City, which was very close to the Metropolitan Opera House. Here, he made an excellent career for himself repairing theatrical shoes.

Successful as the start of his career was, Capezio was not quite satisfied with repairing shoes. He therefore made the transition from repairing shoes to making them. According to the company’s tradition, this was as a result of Capezio making an emergency pair of shoes for opera star Jean de Reszke. The quality of his work for Reszke was highly impressive which gave Capezio a reputation among performers for high quality work. Capezio’s reputation spread, and it wasn’t long before dancers and other performers began making sure that they paid him a visit when they performed at the opera house just opposite Capezio’s small shop.

By 1910, Capezio’s reputation continued to grow as Anna Pavlova, a celebrated Russian ballerina had Capezio make pointe shoes not only for herself but for her entire company of dancers. The company wore Capezio’s shoes for their first tour of the United States of America which was an incredible endorsement for Capezio which saw his well-deserved reputation increase even further. This enabled Capezio to grow his business beyond making soft ballet shoes and pointe shoes, as he expanded into making shoes for numerous Broadway shows and dancers of the Ziegfield Follies which was a series of highly elaborate theatrical productions.

Capezio married a ballet dancer named Angelina Passone in 1902. They met when she visited his shop to purchase a pair of dance shoes. The couple had no children and Salvatore Capezio died in 1940 but his name very much still lives on. By 1941, a collection of Capezio footwear was being sold in a wide range of famous shops, and in 1949, they even appeared on the cover of beauty magazine Vogue.

Following Capezio’s retirement his company continued to grow. It’s amazing to think that such a well-known brand which is now make leotards, jazz shoes, ballet shoes, unitards, shorts, leggings, dance sneakers and so much in countries including the USA, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Swizerland, Denmark, Finland and more started out as such a modest business.

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write by Joshua Underwood