NEW YORK and TOPEKA, Kan., Aug. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Payless ShoeSource (NYSE: PSS), the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere, and American Ballet Theatre, America's National Ballet Company(R), have teamed up to democratize dance across America by making authentic dance footwear affordable. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070802/AQTH009) The new line, branded ABT for Spotlights, is available now for under $25 in about 3,000 Payless stores nationwide and at Payless.com and includes styles for ballet, jazz and tap, as well as accessories such as dance bags. The shoes are available in kids and adult sizing and are perfect for the beginning dancer. Payless has offered dance shoes under the Spotlights brand for the past several years. Through the Payless/ABT alliance, which was launched in May of 2006, Payless footwear designers were able to access ABT(TM) and its world-class dancers to gain intimate knowledge of the art of dance to develop and bring forward the enhanced, co-branded line. "Our alliance with ABT for the ABT for Spotlights collection enables us to bring innovation and authentic performance shoes to our customers, and allows us to support the arts in a meaningful and interactive manner," said Matt Rubel, chief executive officer and president of Payless ShoeSource. "Everyone wins -- consumers receive authentic dance shoes at a great price in our stores, ABT makes dance accessible to the public, and Payless as a company becomes more connected to young girls -- whose number one activity is dance." Sarah Lane, Soloist Dancer for ABT, is the face of the new ABT for Spotlights brand and is featured on the shoe boxes, as well as in-store signage and ads. Lane always dreamed of being a dancer; as a beginner, her first pair of dance shoes were purchased from Payless. Recently selected as a recipient of a 2007 Princess Grace Award, this prestigious honor further pays tribute to Lane as among the nation's most talented young artists. "As the first-ever partnership of a major dance company and mass retailer, we are thrilled that Payless and ABT are leading the way in the marriage of art and commerce," said Rachel Moore, executive director of ABT. "The importance of having the right gear when participating in athletic activities is paramount; as such, we are striving to deliver high-performance dance footwear at an affordable price to help increase youth access to the art of dance." In June, Payless ShoeSource and ABT were recognized for their collaboration with a 2007 Encore Award from the Arts and Business Council of New York, a division of Americans for the Arts. The Encore Awards celebrate innovative partnerships between the arts and business that strengthen both sectors and the communities they serve. Through the alliance, Payless also supports ABT's Make a Ballet On Tour program, held in Chicago this past April, as its exclusive dance footwear sponsor. Aimed at educating underprivileged kids about careers in the arts, Make a Ballet on Tour is done in conjunction with ABT tours and teaches underserved students various elements of creating an original dance performance. Finally, to support the overall effort, Payless representatives conducted outreach programs at local dance studios to make them aware of the new ABT for Spotlights collection, so that they can share the good news with students and their families. ABT for Spotlights Details The ABT for Spotlights collection is priced from $15 to $25 and includes: -- Ballet shoes: available in pink, black and white, the ABT for Spotlights ballet shoes are designed to form to a dancer's foot and become a part of his/her body, allowing for greater movement and expression. They are made from quality leather and keep young dancers' feet aligned for proper muscle control. -- Tap shoes: ABT for Spotlights tap shoes are designed to be the instrument of creative dance. They are made with soft and durable materials, and provide a generous fit for a young dancer's growing foot. -- Jazz shoes: ABT for Spotlights jazz shoes are designed with a soft, durable leather upper, breathable suede insole and a flexible split outsole to allow for superior expression. -- Accessories: designed with the dancer in mind, ABT for Spotlights black duffle and pink quilted satiny tote are perfect to carry dance gear. About Payless Payless ShoeSource, Inc., the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere, is dedicated to democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories and inspiring fun, fashion possibilities for the family at a great value. As of the end of the first quarter 2007, the company operated a total of 4,564 stores. In addition, customers can buy shoes over the Internet through Payless.com(R) at http://www.payless.com. Payless is on a mission to democratize fashion, design and innovation in footwear and accessories, and this includes active lifestyle footwear like performance running shoes, basketball shoes, as well as authentic dance shoes. Having recently revamped its brand image, redesigned stores for an enhanced shopping experience, and launched Designer Collections (which hit the runway at New York Fashion Week) such as Abaete for Payless and Lela Rose for Payless, the company is also securing its position as a "House of Brands" retailer with an expanded portfolio of well-known brands now or soon-to-be offered at Payless stores including ABT for Spotlights, Airwalk(R), American Eagle(TM), Dexter(R), Tailwind(R), Champion(R), Spalding(R) and Dunkman(TM). About ABT American Ballet Theatre, America's National Ballet Company(R), is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach. Since its founding in 1940, ABT annually tours the Unites States, performing for more than 600,000 people, and is the only major cultural institution to do so. It has made more than 30 international tours to 43 countries and has been sponsored by the State Department of the Unites States on many of these engagements.
SOURCE Payless ShoeSource, Inc.