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Photo: Patrick Frenette.


It takes more than pliés to lift a ballet company to great heights. From dancers to conductors, teachers to makeup artists, this series features fascinating insight from ABT experts and an intimate look inside America’s National Ballet Company®. Take a spot at the SideBarre to get to know the incredible people behind each bourrée of American Ballet Theatre.

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December 6, 2023

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

The Nutcracker

In the newest installment of Behind the Ballet, ABT Dance Historian and New York Times #1 best-selling author Elizabeth Kaye puts the spotlight on the beloved tradition returning this holiday season. Kaye takes us on a magical journey through The Nutcracker’s history, music, and how the ballet came to be a worldwide holiday sensation.  

Don’t miss ABT’s The Nutcracker on stage at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, from December 8–17! With choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, this annual classic brings a cast of more than 100 performers to the stage and features dazzling sets and costumes by Tony Award® winner Richard Hudson, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s timeless score.  

October 2, 2023

21st Century Works: King, Ratmansky, and Bond

In the final installment of Behind the Ballet, Kaye ventures into the backgrounds of the choreographers themselves to uncover how each visionary’s upbringing is reflected through movement. Kaye discusses the history of Alonzo King and his work centered on hope, Single Eye. Kaye also connects Alexei Ratmansky’s upbringing in Ukraine to his narrative ballet On the Dnipro, which takes place in his home country.

October 2, 2023

20th Century Works: Balanchine and Ashton

From the ebullience of Russian imperialism in George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial, to the magical forest and Shakespearean entanglements of Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, 20th Century Works: Balanchine and Ashton will transport audiences to new places. Kaye explains how these two ballets – one abstract, one narrative – bring viewers into their spellbinding worlds.

October 2, 2023

Classics Old and New

In Classics Old and New, Kaye takes audiences on a journey through Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, and Harald Lander’s Études. Kaye discusses how each choreographer’s unique vision and specific style ultimately culminated in the distinctly unique masterpieces presented in the program.

October 2, 2023

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

2023 Fall Season

After the success of our summer series, we are delighted to bring you the next iteration of Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye, a series of talks with ABT’s Dance Historian, renowned ballet lecturer, and New York Times #1 best-selling author. Each Behind the Ballet video provides a deep dive into the 2023 Fall season programs: Classics Old and New, 20th Century Works: Balanchine and Ashton, and 21st Century Works: King, Ratmansky, and Bond. Explore the videos below and find out what lies behind the ballet!

July 11, 2023

Romeo and Juliet

In this final Summer 2023 installment of Behind the Ballet, Elizabeth Kaye revisits the creation of The Royal Ballet (1965) in the wake of World War II, which sought to bring back “what was lost after the war—the gentleness of life.” Kaye then explains how Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy is translated into movement through four heart-wrenching pas de deux and three acts of forbidden young love that reveal the universal language of ballet.


July 6, 2023

Swan Lake

This episode of Behind the Ballet takes on the 2023 Summer season’s third production: Swan Lake. Described by Elizabeth Kaye as the “crown jewel of classical ballet,” Kaye offers a sneak peek into the ballet’s ABT premiere in 2000 featuring current Artistic Director Susan Jaffe in the role of Odette-Odile. Kaye chronicles the tragic story of Swan Lake and how Tchaikovsky’s ethereal score shapes this iconic 19th Century tale.


June 20, 2023


In this episode of Behind the Ballet, Elizabeth Kaye explains the renowned classic Giselle. Kaye begins with an enticing overview of the Romantic era, and how it shaped the making of this ballet from the introduction of pointe shoes and short tutus to the romance between Carlotta Grisi (the original Giselle) and choreographer Jules Perrot. She then offers an in-depth synopsis of the production’s tragic tale in two acts—an unforgettable story of maddening love, betrayal, and deceit.


June 13, 2023

Like Water for Chocolate

In this first installment of Behind the Ballet, ABT Principal Dancer Herman Cornejo (Pedro) and Elizabeth Kaye discuss Like Water for Chocolate and its layered three-act story. From adapting to a non-balletic character and demanding acting scenes to onstage sensuality and heartbreak, this exclusive interview offers a unique perspective on ABT’s newest full-length ballet, based on the iconic novel of the same name by Laura Esquivel.


June 4, 2023

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

With the 2023 Summer season at the Metropolitan Opera House inching closer, America’s National Ballet Company® has released a captivating new video series: Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye.

Hosted by ballet historian Elizabeth Kaye, ABT’s Behind the Ballet pre-recorded lectures provide a look into each of the 2023 Summer season productions, drawing you into each ballet with musical and historical insight, clear synopses, and alluring anecdotes of rival ballerinas, style trends, and Tchaikovsky’s woes. Kaye’s unmistakable love of dance and its evolution is ever-present through each lecture, from the classics of Giselle, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet to Christopher Wheeldon’s new work, Like Water for Chocolate.

Artistic Director Susan Jaffe, the architect behind the video series, acknowledged, “One of the biggest hurdles, I think to bringing in anybody new to ballet is that people, when they first come and sit in front of a ballet, they’re very intimidated. They think they’re supposed to know what’s going on.”

Recognizing the vocabulary of storytelling through movement can sometimes feel inaccessible, ABT hopes these videos can provide the tools and knowledge for theater goers and those who are looking to dive deeper to feel that much more excited and self-assured when attending or discussing these rich full-length productions.

While Behind the Ballet may be new to ABT, Elizabeth Kaye certainly is not. Kaye has been dedicated to ABT’s mission of sharing classical ballet to the widest possible audience, from her book American Ballet Theatre: A 25 Year Retrospective (1999) to her past and present pre-performance talks at the Met Opera House and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Kaye has a longstanding history with the Company and is excited to welcome a whole new generation of balletomanes through this new series.

So, before you come to the Met and see one of ABT’s full-length productions between June 22 and July 22, be sure to check out Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye, so you can follow the emotion, beauty, and intricacies of each story with confidence.