Prior to opening the Grand Jeté in 1983, Ruthena was Director of Student Financial Aid at Macalester College. When she began considering other career options, it was her husband who, seeing her passion for dance, suggested she open a retail dance store. With the seed for the dream planted, Ruthena began pursuing a location for the store on Grand Avenue, liking the character of the small shops and having lived in the area her whole life. Friends of hers were opening a dance studio in a building yet to be constructed.
In May 1983, Ruthena decided to join them by also leasing space for Grand Jeté in the same building. While many businesses in the building have come and gone over thirty years, Dance Spectrum and Grand Jeté remain the only two original tenants. It was a very busy summer that year as Ruthena created her first vendor account with Capezio so she would be able to order merchandise for the Store. In deciding to name the store Grand Jeté, Ruthena considered the location as well as the focus of her store being dance apparel.
A grand jeté is a dance step where the dancer performs a large split leap. Ruthena thought this would be a perfect name since her store was located on Grand Avenue. She met her goal of being open by Labor Day of 1983, to be ready for the back to school rush, even with the building construction delays resulting in unpacked boxes and unfinished plumbing and flooring. It was a time when sales, payroll, taxes, etc. were all written up and calculated by hand. Over the thirty years that Grand Jeté has been in existence, there have been many changes in fashions, fabrics, vendors and technology. Throughout, Grand Jeté has upheld its mission to provide top quality services and products to dancers in the Twin Cities area and beyond. Being dancers themselves, Ruthena and her staff are personally committed to supporting the dancers who walk through Grand Jeté’s door by attending their performances, keeping track of their sales history, and staying updated on their dance programs. As one of the few brick and mortar dance shops in the state, Grand Jeté has become more than a local retail store; it has become a destination business. Dancers from throughout Minnesota and the surrounding states have come to depend on Grand Jeté’s personalized service and attention to the individual needs of each dancer.