leading ladies: misty & amy

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Ballet and fashion have enjoyed a mutually propitious relationship for quite some time, volleying inspiration throughout history and resulting in some pretty amazing collaborations.  But the bond goes so much deeper than the beauty and glamour they share, and who better to showcase that bond than two of ballet and fashion’s leading ladies, ABT soloist Misty Copeland and Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley?

If you’ve ever wondered what a conversation between these powerhouses might consist of, you’re not alone, and you’re in luck.  As part of their fantasy-indulging “Possible Conversations” series, online editorial platform, The Thick, has brought Copeland and Astley together (in a super luxe setting, to boot) for an exclusive feature.  The resulting discussion does not disappoint, diving right in passed the glitz and straight to the grit.

I was so pleased to follow the conversation into truly honest territory, in which the ladies weigh in on the juxtaposing grace and strength that can exist within a single creature.  So much of fashion pursues a seemingly unattainable “easy” chicness, and the mastery of ballet revolves around making each impossible step look natural.  One comment in particular, from Ms. Astley, really struck me:

“Whether in dance or fashion, if you can get to the top, you know you’re made of stern stuff. It’s sort of like ‘Swan Lake.’ The swan is so beautiful on the water, but underneath, the legs are working like crazy.”

When I teach ballet to younger students, this is one of my favorite examples to use.  In an attempt to calm their often rambunctious port-de-bras and shift some of that excess energy into the lower halves of their bodies, first I ask my students what a swan looks like from our point of view, gliding over the water.  “Elegant!  Soft!  Smooth!  Feathers!  One time I fed swans with my grandpa!”…you always get that one giggle-inducing response.  Then, I ask them to show me what a swan’s feet and legs are doing under the water, and their rollicking interpretations never fail to spread a smile across my face.  It’s such an accurate illustration of the work that goes into making something look effortlessly beautiful, and the fact that Ms. Astley used this comparison to link fashion and ballet just makes me love the special connection between them that much more.

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The ballet world can feel so isolating, with its strong focus on physical aesthetics and that winding road towards an impervious perfection, but an inside look at the fashion industry lends comfort in its lipstick-masked strength.  Amy and Misty cover so many relevant topics, comparing views on beauty, art, femininity and what happens when you’re just a tad bit of a glutton for punishment (sound familiar, anyone?).  I highly recommend playing fly-on-the-gorgeously-bookshelved-sapphire-wall of this Possible Conversation.

photos c/o The Thick.

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