What It's Really Like to Dance with the ABT Studio Company

Léa Fleytoux in ABT Studio Company class (photo by Kyle Froman)

For an aspiring ballerina, there's no more exciting place to be than the ABT Studio Company, the pre-professional arm of American Ballet Theatre. The NYC-based troupe of 16- to 20-year-old dancers trains hard and performs harder, putting on multiple shows over the course of each season. We followed ensemble member Léa Fleytoux, a gifted 18-year-old from Paris, France, on a performance day to get an inside look at what it's like to live the Studio Company life.


All photos by Kyle Froman.

1. Fleytoux's day began, as usual, with class, led by Studio Company artistic director Kate Lydon. "At this point, I was really excited about the show that night," Fleytoux says. "But I tried to relax so I wouldn't tire myself out too much."

2. Before heading to the theater, the company squeezed in some last-minute rehearsing. "I went through my solo part in Raymonda, and a little bit of the new work Liam Scarlett choreographed for us, Untitled," Fleytoux says. "I was focused on setting the tempo for my Raymonda variation, and on fixing my balance."

3. Fleytoux took the subway uptown to the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College with her boyfriend, fellow Studio Company member Jarod Curley. "We enjoy having so much time together," she says. "It's always a pleasure to talk with him about ballet—and not ballet!"

4. On the train, Fleytoux texted friends and family members who'd sent her birthday wishes. "My birthday was the day before!" she says. "I also listened to pop music, which always gives me energy."

5. Onstage at the Kaye, Fleytoux worked with Studio Company ballet master Sascha Radetsky on a tricky lift from Scarlett's piece.

6. The Studio Company did a little team-building exercise before the show. "We wished each other good luck, and it helped us to relax," Fleytoux says.

Fleytoux and the Studio Company in "Untitled"

7. Showtime! Fleytoux performed in an excerpt from Raymonda, Ethan Stiefel's See the Youth Advance!, and Scarlett's Untitled. "I had so much fun, especially doing my solo in Raymonda," she says. "It's very hard technically, but I love the music, so I can let it carry me through."

The end of of Fleytoux's "Raymonda" solos

8. As she took her last bows, Fleytoux "felt a little bit melancholy knowing that the show was done," she says. "But the atmosphere with everyone onstage was wonderful. It was a moment of happiness."


A version of this story appeared in the September 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Living That #BalletLife."

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