Ballet’s Best Kept Secret…..

9 Feb

It did not take long for me to realize that being an intern at American Ballet Theater’s JKO School is not your average internship. Practically everyday I ride the elevator with a prima ballerina, and I pass world-renown celebrity Misty Copeland all the time in the hallway. It’s not unusual for a principal dancer to snap a picture through the door while I assistant teach a primary class of baby ballerinas. For a dancer or an avid ballet fan, interning at ABT is endless excitement.

We had our official intern orientation meeting this past Friday, where we had a tour of the studios, briefly observing Alexei Ratmansky create his new production of The Sleeping Beauty, and catching a glimpse of Julie Kent dancing a heartfelt pas de deux. But unexpectedly, the highlight of the day was a storage closet at the back end of the JKO School. Holding us in suspense, Dennis said he was about to show us the true finances of a ballet company. Pushing open a locked door, he revealed bags and bags overflowing with unused pointe shoes—hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of brand new shoes, rejected by current dancers, or left by dancers who joined other companies or retired. And it gets better: ABT sells these pointe shoes for as little as $20 per pair!

I felt suddenly and instantly enlightened. I could not believe that I had lived 24 years of my life not knowing that this closet existed. Seeing my eyes widen in excitement, Dennis let me try on all of the makers and designs of Freed pointe shoes they had in my size—there were a lot. I ended up with two pairs that I loved, from two different dancers. When I agreed to come back for more after trying these, Dennis gave them to me for free. Two free pairs of pointe shoes with endless amounts of $20 pairs to come! It felt like if you combined Christmas and my birthday, and something else really great.

This is only the beginning of a semester filled with exciting events, like the 75th anniversary Gala in the spring, and the performance of Ratmansky’s new ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the semester will bring.

Eliza Sherlock-Lewis

JKO School Intern – Spring 2015

Eliza in the Pointe Shoe room with her new shoes

Eliza in the Pointe Shoe room with her new shoes

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