How Many Pairs of Pointe Shoes Do the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre Go Through Each Year? | Playbill

Classic Arts Features How Many Pairs of Pointe Shoes Do the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre Go Through Each Year?
A breakdown of NYCB, ABT, and the New York Philharmonic’s most fascinating statistics.
<i>Swan Lake</i>
Swan Lake Paul Kolnik

The statistics of Broadway—that Wicked has used 942,000 pounds of dry ice over its 15-year run, that The Lion King needs 3,000 stalks of grass to main headdresses per production per year—have truly impressed. Most Broadway shows don’t enjoy runs lengthy enough that they accumulate these numbers, but classical arts institutions like the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the New York Philharmonic do.

New York City Ballet employs 95 dancers in its current company and 63 musicians in its current orchestra, and has premiered 469 works since its founding in 1948 (including the 2020 Winter program). American Ballet Theatre presently employs 91 dancers—from 14 different countries and 25 states. First founded as Ballet Theatre (the name changed in 1957), the Company plays only eight weeks in New York and tours for the rest of the year. ABT celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. The New York Philharmonic features 106 musicians and, as of December 7, 2019 (the Phil’s 177th birthday), the orchestra had performed 16,623 concerts and premiered 606 works.

Storage of pointe shoes at American Ballet Theatre Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre

In addition to the impressive numbers of artists on their rosters and new works presented, the design and technical departments of NYCB, ABT, and the Philharmonic offer wild statistics about the sets and theatres, costumes and shoes, lighting and special effects here:


The number of pairs of pointe shoes the company of the NYCB goes through each season; the average lifespan of a pair of pointe shoes is two days.


The number of square feet of marley used on the ABT stage


The number of pairs of pointe shoes the company of ABT goes through each year; each dancer is allotted 10 pairs of shoes per week


The number of reeds the Philharmonic oboe section makes each season (watch them make the reeds in this video)


The approximate number of fixtures in a standard repertory lighting plot for ABT


The number of trailers in and out of the Metropolitan Opera House during the Spring season


The average number of pounds of snow dropped during each NYCB performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker


The number of broken batons on display in the Orchestra library


The number of tubas owned by the Philharmonic’s principal tuba player Al Baer


The number of tons the curtain weighs at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, where the NYCB performs

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