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Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Photo: Patrick Frenette.

June 4, 2023

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

With the 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.

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 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.


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.


July 11, 2023

Romeo and Juliet

In this final 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.