fauns and roses

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We are headed to The Vets this week, and already I feel the familiar excitement of performance time.  Choreographer Dominic Walsh returns to Providence tonight, so it seems an appropriate time to look back on this interview from a few weeks ago, when he was in town setting his works.  In the clip, Dominic sheds some light on the inspiration behind his reinventions of Le Spectre de la Rose and Afternoon of a Faun.  Being able to learn about the birthplace of his creativity and take special note of those influences now, while preparing his pieces for the stage, has been so rewarding.  I especially love seeing the Rodin sculpture of Nijinsky that inspired the iconic first pose in his Faun.  Dominic makes such a poignant statement about creation:

“That time of The Ballets Russes was so exciting; They were breaking barriers.  There was this dedication to exploration and excellence.  So I think to reinvent these works is one way to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of the cultural institutions, and therefore our community.”

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Very well said.  If you have a minute, check out his interview below.  The extended version is even juicier, if you’re interested.

For tickets.

Photo of FBP ladies in rehearsal for Dominic Walsh’s Afternoon of a Faun by Alex Lantz; Second photo featuring Ty and Marissa Parmenter in Dominic Walsh’s Afternoon of a Faun.

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.

nice to meet you, miss jones

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Today’s big announcement pertains to a project I’ve been anxiously waiting to share for weeks now, so here goes:  Ladies and gents, I would like to formally introduce you to the exclusive Setting The Barre leotard (!!!!!!!).  I’ll admit that I was a bit trepidatious in agreeing to collaborate with a young dancer living across the globe on a leotard to represent something so near and dear to my heart.  But in the spirit of 2015 and embracing all opportunities, I decided to encourage the industrious Miss Jones to indulge in this adventure, and boy was that a rewarding decision.  I immediately fell in love with her creation, examining every detail, but in turn realized that my pool of knowledge regarding the designer herself was rather shallow.  So before I get down to my review of the leotard (stay tuned for the third post of this installment), I’d like to give you all a chance to get to know Miss Sarah Jonesphoto 2

First can you tell us a bit about yourself and your dance background? 
I started ballet when I was 3 at  the Valerie Jenkins Academy of Ballet in Sydney [Australia] and I’m now 15 and studying for my Cecchetti Advanced 2 exam (eek!) I also take jazz, hip hop, character and contemporary. I probably won’t go the super classical route in the future, but I would love to be part of a contemporary company and maybe do some commercial work. I dance mostly because I have absolutely no idea what kind of person I would be without it, or what I would do with all that free time :) I also love the constant challenge and the discipline it has taught me.

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What inspired you to start designing and sewing your own leotards?
I started to make my own leotards because I felt consistently uninspired by the designs at my local dance store; they were always just the same few colors and cuts shuffled around a bit, plus they’re always super expensive! The fist thing I made was a simple wrap skirt and I got so many positive comments from other people at my studio that I just decided to take it a little further and make leotards.

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Do you build your own patterns?  
I make all my own patterns, mostly through trial and error and sometimes basing them off things I already have. By now I’ve built up a good range of existing pieces I can mix and match to create almost anything. Leotards have the bonus that they’re made of stretchy fabric so you can get away with not having insanely complicated patterns.

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How do you come up with the silhouettes and styles for each new leotard?
I take inspiration for leotards from everywhere! If I see someone wearing a really great dress, I think about if it could be translated into leotard form. Another great source of inspiration is swimwear because the designs are often much more elaborate than your traditional leo but the construction is still quite similar. I love anything that is not really conventional, if it’s a bit dramatic and catches your eye from across the room that’s ideal!

photo 1What makes the STB leotard special?I would have to say the main distinguishing features of the STB leotard would be the tulip shaped cutouts around the neckline. I was inspired by an amazing dress I saw in the window of a Pucci store which had a row of cutouts around the waist. It got me thinking about how cutouts could be used in leotard form. I think it’s important thing is that a design has some element of symmetry and that the lines created are streamlined and flowing (just like in ballet!) so I really tried to keep that in mind when designing the leotard.photo 3

Now- just for fun- choose 3 words to describe your own “studio style”…

If I had to choose the words to describe my aesthetic they would probably be fun, flirtatious and unexpected. That’s a difficult question!

Stay tuned for my thoughts on this gorgeous design, and for information on how you can get an STB leotard for yourself, with a special readers-only discount code!

For more peeks at this pretty leo, click here.

photos by Jenay Evans

in the studio: peter pan

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It’s day 3 of theater week, but I thought I would share some photos from last Saturday’s run through in the studio, before this whole weekend flashes by and they all become irrelevant.  My, my, I sure do get tossed around quite a bit in this ballet.  And with some elaborate hairography, I might add.  It’s an interesting thing, dancing with your hair almost completely down, when you’re so used to winding it up into a bun every day.  Suddenly your ‘do goes from a tame knot to a feral creature that seems to live and breathe, and without much capacity to be controlled.  Most of the ballet it swings like a rope, whipping into the faces of whoever dare attempt partner me and my wild mane.

In other news, and I do mean news, the interview Misha, Ian and I did with Cox Sports Media has been finished and posted.  For once in my life, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out (curse of the self-depricating dancer, I suppose), and now I’m feeling adequately prepared for my appearance on The Rhode Show tomorrow morning.  It’s going to be a busy, busy week!

second photo by Cemal Ekin, the rest by Jim Turner

just me, the interview-ee!

A few days ago I got a lovely email from the folks over at Blogcean, asking if I’d be willing to do an interview for their blog. Of course, I happily obliged!  I can’t believe someone actually wanted to interview me!  It’s still pretty weird to have people officially calling me a “blogger” and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to giving blogging advice, but I really enjoyed digging into my blogging roots to answer these questions.  So much fun!  To read the interview, head on over here

xx