Backstage at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Behind the curtain with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre costumier Janet Marie Groom.
Amidst tutus, pointe shoes, satin and lace, Janet Marie Groom spends her days in a workshop in the back of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre building. There, she and her team of stitchers and an assistant create all the costumes worn by the company onstage. It’s something that Groom, who began working with the PBT in 1973 as a stitcher, has done her entire career.
Now, it’s a passion that consumes her: Groom owns The Dancer’s Pointe, a dance-supply shop in the Strip District. And she tells tales of packing up her sewing machine and cutting fabric for costumes in hotel rooms while on vacation with her husband, who occasionally colors ballet shoes. The odd looks from hotel staff and late nights are all worth it to her when the curtain rises on opening night. “Every little detail makes a difference,” she says. “You may not see them until they catch the light and glimmer. Then you notice there’s something of beauty there. And that’s the fun part of the job—making wonderful, beautiful things and playing with different trims and putting different pieces together to make what you think up.”