When I was a 9-year-old budding ballerina, I vividly remember entering the studio, giggling to my friend over some conversation we’d started in the lobby. My teacher gave us “the look,” and sternly told both of us to go out and re-enter “like a dancer.” I still cringe, thinking of that rebuke. Ballet studios have a rep as being temples of extreme discipline. You do not screw around. You’re there to work, full stop. And to push someone out of a promotion or role. Obviously.
So why are dogs – dogs! – allowed in the studios of American Ballet Theatre? Hang out during rehearsal or daily class at this venerable New York ballet company, and you’ll be competing for floor space with a dozen or more pups, that patiently “sit” and watch their owners as they go through their own particular tricks.Unlike the rigid atmosphere of my former dance school, ABT is fairly loose on their dog policy. And the reason is simple: in a profession that is more competitive than your typical Miss Nascar pageant, pets provide crucial stress relief. The practice isn’t completely new; in past years, many dancers have been known to bring their dog(s) on tour. The classroom scenario, however, isn’t as common.
In recent years, several pet photographers have visited the ABT studios to record a Day In the Life of a Dance Dog. The most recent pro contributions come from The Dogist, with images being shared on Instagram under the hashtag #dogsofabt. It’s a fun – and furry – look at something that’s become as essential to top-flight ballet dancers as Icy Hot and Advil.
Photo Credit: Dancing dog image courtesy of Pixabay (Public Domain)