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Meet the Crew

Wardrobe Department

June 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

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Meet the Crew

Go behind-the-scenes and “Meet the Crew,” a weekly feature on the departments who help build and create the magic on stage for American Ballet Theatre.

Wardrobe Department

The Wardrobe department is one of ABT’s biggest and most elaborate. Though only four team members on the full-time staff, it may take at ​hiring least 25 ​additional people to run some of the ballets ​during performances: getting each dancer dressed and changed throughout the ballet.

ABT owns thousands of costumes; some are stored for archival purposes at the production warehouse and some constantly being reused year after year. The wardrobe team is responsible for maintaining, repairing, cleaning and organizing all of the costumes, as they are used. In addition to the costumes, they are responsible for all the headpieces, hats, jewelry and shoes. The vast array of shoes dancers wear are so important that they could make up their own department!

ABT travels with thousands of pointe shoes, ballet slippers and character shoes, and each pair is painted as necessary per ballet. During non-performance weeks, the wardrobe team will prepare for the upcoming ballets. They will assign and fit each costume to the casted dancers, making sure everyone has the costume that fits them best. They will then repair, re-bead or resize each costume, as needed. During the performance weeks the team will help dress and keep each dancers’ costumes organized, especially for the quick changes. Dancers can have several quick changes during a ballet; the wardrobe staff coordinates with other teams to make sure they have an assigned dressing area on stage where they can set up. Dancers will come to that space to quickly change their costumes — sometimes in less than a minute!

The wardrobe team must also be ready at any given moment to quickly fix or sew a costume on stage if it gets ripped during dancing!

Fun Facts

ABT dancers use shoes from at least 12 different shoe companies per year.
Number of shoes Wardobe packs for ABT's biggest season (eight weeks at the Metropolitan Opera House)
Pairs of shoes kept on hand for one week of Swan Lake