interior design meets ballet

Given the fact that June is a big ballet month in our household, I couldn’t think of a better post to kick off the week.  I love interior design and I love ballet.  Rarely do these two worlds collide, but it recently happened at American Ballet Theatre in New York, thanks to Architectural Digest and interior designer Dan Fink.  When I saw this article on the beautifully renovated ABT dancers’ lounge in New York, I flipped.  As a ballet dancer and ABT® certified teacher, this story was right up my alley.  The idea of merging ballet and interior design makes my heart leap…ahem, I mean grand jeté for joy!

Behold the newly renovated dancer lounge at ABT.

As beautiful as ballet itself, this project is both inspiring and from the heart.

Behind the Beauty…

A professional ballet dancer’s life includes long days of training, physical therapy, rehearsing and/or performing, with very little down time.  Days begin by 9:00am and do not end until after a show.  For ABT dancers and students, these long hours can be grueling.  Breaks are brief:  professionals are given five minute breaks throughout the day, which means lunch is on-the-go in between classes or rehearsals.  The ABT lounge is the one place dancers can go during the day for a brief moment to eat, stretch, or recharge.

A professionally designed room for professional ballet dancers, all in monochromatic tones with comfortable and elegant style.  Does it get any better?  I think not.  I also can’t think of a more relaxing space to rest after long hours of classes, rehearsals, and performances.  Designer Dan Fink did an extraordinary job capturing the spirit and history of ABT while keeping the space open, livable, and sophisticated.

Fink redesigned the space into a breath-taking lounge that fit the dancers only request: “Make it white and clean.”

All white?  Music to my ears.

Before the Redesign…

So what did the ABT lounge look like before?  Dark walls, stained futons, folding tables, fluorescent lighting, and a few vending machines.  Hardly a state of the art place one would picture for a dancer to recharge during a long day of sweat and hard work.  The before picture makes you greatly appreciate Fink’s remarkable transformation.

A shot of ABT students in the lounge before the redesign, courtesy of CBS This Morning story.

“It was hard to believe this was the only place for the world’s best dancers to put their feet up,” Fink said about the lounge’s original condition. “Still, there was something beautiful in the fact that for so many years that’s how it was and the dancers kept dancing. It’s a testament to their dedication and humility.”

What a gorgeous change.

Ballet companies are always in need of funds, so extras like a luxe lounge are simply not in the budget.  ABT says they put “every dollar on the stage.”

I mentioned earlier this was a project from the heart, and everything on this redesign was generously donated, including Fink’s design time and expertise, which took a total of four months.  An anonymous patron donated construction costs, and furnishings and fixtures were generously donated from companies such as Sunbrella, Circa Lighting, Century furniture, and Thomas O’Brien, who is Fink’s husband.  For art in the lounge, Fink used famous ABT dance images, which he sourced from their archives.

Dan Fink in center with the stars of ABT, courtesy of Architectural Digest

During the process, Fink also added an extra large viewing window into their light-filled rehearsal studio from the lounge, which gives donors a behind-the-scenes view of ABT during fundraising events.  Seeing professional dancers working in the window is like watching a giant canvas of moving art, not to mention inspiration for ABT dance students and fellow dancers.

Love that the colors, textures, and style are all on pointe, ha.

Fun designer fact:  Fink studied human biology at Stanford University and has a unique approach to incorporating relaxation in a space.  He describes his style as “East Coast order and California ease.”

You can get a more detailed glimpse “walking through the new space” in this brief video, which also shows some ABT celebs you may recognize ; )

I think it’s so wonderful that the dancers of ABT can benefit from the design talent of Dan Fink – this is a space that will truly be enjoyed day after day for many years to come.  Be sure to check out Fink’s portfolio of design work over here – he is amazing!
photos by Gabrielle Pilotti Langdon, courtesy of Architectural Digest










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  1. Sarah says:

    The ballet dancers will truly feel inspired in this space (btw: I love your ballet references :)

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    SeletaI‘m Seleta, a city girl living the beach life with my family. A former TV personality turned designer, I love to share the sparkly side of life. Read more here.
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