New York City Ballet

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photographs by Devin Alberda

I’ve made no secret of my love of ballet (I’m convinced all that exposure to French words at age 3 might have had something to do with me turning into a Francophile later in life, even if they were shouted by a brusque, crazy English ex-dancer) so imagine my delight at seeing these photographs in last weekend’s New York Times magazine, behind the scenes with the New York City Ballet corps. Oh, how I miss it sometimes! The stretching, the bloody toes, the blisters, the hairspray, the grace, the beauty, the music, all of it. I’ve thought about taking a beginner’s class again for about, oh, five years now, but I’m too afraid my body would rebel against being made to bend and move in ways outside of what is expected for laying on the sofa binge-watching tv by cramping horribly the moment I donned a leotard. Ah, well. Do you think I could raid that pointe shoe closet? Sometimes when I wear leg warmers (don’t judge me, it’s cold in my writing room) I point my toes and use my desk as the barre and practice a few pliés. My posture isn’t what it used to be, and my turn-out is laughable, but I still like to think I’m a ballerina inside (buried underneath donuts and a contempt for exercise).

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March 25, 2014 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

20 comments

  • Love all those ballet shoes, don’t you just want to open all those packages! x

    • I do, and I want to try them all on! xo

  • I was never into ballet while growing up, so it’s fun to get a behind the scenes glimpse of this glamorous world!

    • Oh, there’s a much uglier side to the glamour, for sure! I wasn’t kidding when I said bloody feet! xo

  • One of my dearest friends has a daughter who is a budding and quite talented ballerina. She’s Cal’s age, just 14, and last year she spent the summer at a program in NC. This summer, she’ll spend 6 weeks at Joffrey in Chicago. It’s thrilling to watch from way behind the scenes. A whole new world.

    • Ooh, Joffrey! What a dream that must be for her. Six weeks away from home at that age, in an exciting city, must be a once in a lifetime experience. Pretty exciting for her! xo

  • i love how gritty these photos are, because you know, for as beautiful and delicate as ballet is, it is also pretty gritty. bloody toes is right. i didn’t take ballet. i had the opposite of a ballet body when i was younger – well, okay i still do. but i was always fascinated with it. i was fascinated with anything that was french or where you’d leave home at a young age, or anything that had a bit of a macabre under-side. and ballet kind of fit all of those in my mind. of course this is all based on all the ballet documentaries i watched and on zero personal experience ;) xoxo

    • I danced for something like 11 years, and while there are seriously some macabre, ugly sides to the whole enterprise (blisters the size of quarters, blood everywhere, hair that has been shellacked into submission, a teacher walking around and smacking you with a wooden stick when your posture slipped, etc etc…when you’re in it, you don’t realize it. It’s just part of the deal. The beautiful, rigid, demanding deal. Sigh. Clearly I miss it! xo

  • Les photos sont magnifiques! Je ne suis pas fait la danse quand j’étais petite mais il pareil que quand on a était une fois danseuse on l’est à vie! Ma fille veut aller l’année prochaine. Elle a 8 ans, tu pense que c’est tard pour elle? xo

    • Huit ans est un bon age, je pense. J’ai commencé quand j’avais 3 ans, mais a cet age, les enfants ne peuvent pas faire plus, et les classes sont pour le plaisir. Si ta fille aime et veut a danser, elle aura joyeuse. Bon chance, Eva! Cette une experience pour les parents, aussi :) xo

  • Ha! sitting on the couch is about all my body is good for right about now too. But oui, I DO think you are still a ballerina!

    • Hey now, you at least have that cutie pie baby of yours as an excuse! Me? I’m just lazy with a capital L ;) xo

  • Erin, you were a natural. Your turnouts pleased the head of the Maryland Ballet Company. I miss shopping at the Rosin Box with you, I miss sewing elastic on your ballet shoes, I miss watching your classes, I miss the recitals, I miss dinner with you and you father after the Thursday class, I miss the tight buns and starching every hair in place, I miss putting the makeup on all the kids for the recital, but most of all I miss your little smile at me in the wings. I think you should consider taking a class again. At your age, I don’t have to chaperone!

    • The Rosin Box!! I miss going there too, my memories of that store are something out of a Harry Potter-esque set, tiny rooms, creaky floors, packed with goodies. I was just telling Herbie that Little Pete’s was a Thursday ritual every week after ballet. I miss that part a lot, too (maybe more than the actual class?? haha). xo

  • i think the idea of putting on a pair of shoes from that closet, your leg warmers, and using your desk sounds so much better than taking an aching class! ballet is for fun, with or without good posture :)

    • Hah aw thanks, Yelle. I like to think leg warmers aren’t just for 80s theme parties, haha. xo

  • You know, I bought a ballet workout dvd a few years ago and that thing is KILLER but gets me that tiny ballerina kick that I sometimes get a hankering for. And then my legs AND arms are sore for a week

    • That’s such a smart idea! I might have to look into buying that kind of workout DVD. All the best parts of ballet, in the comfort of my own home! xo

  • Love ballet! Crazy how many pointe shoes each ballerina goes through in just one season!

    • Those shoes (and the dancers’ bodies and feet!) really take a beating! xo