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Shenea’s Stiletto–the design process for an acrobatic dancer’s prop

Shenea performing on her custom-designed and built stiletto.

The acrobatic performer Shenea Booth envisioned an over-sized stiletto shoe that she could perform with and on. Not only did the prop need to be glamorous, illuminated and sparkling, but it had be designed so that she could dismantle it herself and pack to travel abroad. If that wasn’t challenge enough, she wanted it to rotate on stage!

A two-time world champion handbalancer, Shenea gave me input as I developed the design sketching and drafting the concept. (See the drawings below.) Then I worked with Craig Dickens, the well-known fabricator of props for stage magicians, who brought the stiletto to life and whose ideas and expertise were invaluable. The results were spectacular and Shenea has traveled the world, performing with it:

1. Conceptualizing with Shenea.

First, to get the vibe right I purchased a pair of high-heeled shoes from a secondhand store. 

Next, I sketched preliminary concept images to make sure I was getting Shenea’s vision, for her to review and provide input.

2. Developing the concept.

I refined the sketch as we finalized the details. The details continued to evolve as I drafted the design in Vectorworks.

3. Fabrication.

In our meetings, prop fabricator Craig Dickens discussed how components such as the canes that Shenea poses on would be installed. The stiletto began to take shape in Dicken’s shop.

4. The fabulous stiletto.

Shenea took the stiletto on tour world-wide, and continues to perform globally.