Dance in Pop Culture

Why Daniel Day-Lewis Spent a Year Interning at NYCB's Costume Shop

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread, 2017. Focus Features

There's been an unusual intern hanging around the New York City Ballet costume shop: Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

He took the nearly year-long gig in preparation for his role in the new movie Phantom Thread, in which he plays a couture designer in 1950s London (the character is largely based on Cristóbal Balenciaga).


Day-Lewis is known for these kinds of intense preparations, even training as a butcher before filming Gangs of New York. But NYCB may be his last internship, as Phantom Thread is reportedly his final film.

His experience in the costume shop gave him the chops to not only stitch convincingly on screen, but also to "have some input in the fabrics and colors of the gowns his character would design," according to The New York Post.

Apprenticing under NYCB costume director Marc Happel, Day-Lewis helped out with things like pinning fabrics, cutting cloths, stitching and taking the dancers' measurements. Most impressively, he even hand-embroidered the famous costumes for Balanchine's Firebird, making for possibly the most epic costume credit of all time: Designed by artist Marc Chagall, originally executed by costume icon Karinska, embroidered by Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

The Conversation
Dance Training
Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Alexandra Wells can always tell when a dancer hasn't read her summer intensive information packet. Sometimes, says Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's director of artist training, there's a quick fix for the lack of preparation. "You can go and buy a long-sleeve shirt after you burn your shoulder really badly in that first floorwork class," she says. But not bringing enough of your special-order pointe shoes? "That's really dire."

Between reading the fine print, shopping for necessities and ramping up physically, getting ready for a summer intensive takes more than just dancing a lot. We broke down a step-by-step timeline:

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Advice for Dancers
Photo by Ali Müftüoğulları, Courtesy Unsplash

Whenever I'm cast in a solo role, I'm consumed with thoughts of everything that could go wrong. Please help.

—Isabella, Philadelphia, PA

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