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Madison Avenue Stores Raise Cash to Keep Ballet Dancers on 'Pointe'

 Money raised will go to benefit the New York City Ballet's Toe Shoe Fund.
Money raised will go to benefit the New York City Ballet's Toe Shoe Fund.
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UPPER EAST SIDE— Madison Avenue stores are putting the spotlight on the New York City Ballet this week with a series of events to honor the dance company’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center — and help raise money for its shoe costs.

“On Your Toes on Madison Avenue,” organized by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, runs through March 22 and includes receptions, talks, raffles and even a chance to shop with some of New York’s prima ballerinas at the avenue’s high-end boutiques. The 10 participating retailers, which include Alice + Olivia, Kate Spade and Barneys among others, have donated $30,000 to the New York City Ballet to help cover the company's massive shoe expenses.

The New York City Ballet spends about $600,000 a year on custom-made pointe shoes, the delicate paper-and-fabric slippers that allow ballerinas to dance on their toes, officials said.

“The New York City Ballet really resonates with our clientele on Madison Avenue,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue BID. “We have a number of shoe and accessories boutiques here and we thought there was a great synergy between the ballet’s Toe Shoe Fund and the stores here.”

The ballet's dancers spend up to eight hours a day in pointe shoes, breaking the hard toe boxes with use, and forcing dancers to change pairs frequently to avoid injuries, according to the company.

Several stores, including Agent Provocateur, Chanel and Tory Burch, are getting in on the act with window displays featuring New York City Ballet memorabilia. Passersby can check out elaborate costumes and toe shoes from past productions such as "Swan Lake," "Coppelia" and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."

On Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m., nine stores will participate in an invite-only “Shop with the Dancers” event. 

Guests will have the chance to interact with several members of the New York City Ballet, including principal dancers Sara Mearns and Megan Fairchild, as well as soloist Antonio Carmena. Select boutiques will donate an additional 20 percent of sales from Thursday's event to the Toe Shoe Fund.

Bauer suggested that people reach out to their favorite participating store if they're interested in attending but haven’t received an invitation.

“It’s a really special opportunity for our clients to meet the dancers,” he said. “It’s a thrill.”

For more information on the event, check out the Madison Avenue BID's website.