she thinks therefore she thinx

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Everything is beautiful at the ballet…except when it’s not.

Let’s be real for a second, okay? Disclaimer: Male readers, you can excuse yourselves now. Ladies, let’s talk.

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Sometimes being a ballerina is all about tutus and pointe shoes and pink tights and tiaras and feeling like a beautiful princess, and sometimes it’s all about tutus and pink tights and period cramps. Being a professional ballet dancer revolves largely around the pursuit of seemingly effortless perfection, but in reality, most of this life is difficult, sweaty, and well, a bit icky.

Diving head first into that realness: attempting ballet with your period is not fun. Bloat, cramps, muscle soreness, it’s a cocktail of shitty. Not to mention the awkwardness of feminine care products. Pliés and pads? No, thank you. Has anyone else ever ruined a leotard a certain time of the month? Better yet- does anyone have a special “period leotard” (or 3?). Dark colors, looser styles, “boob friendlies” as I like to call them- these are a lady’s best friends. But what if there was a special leotard- designed by cool girls who get it- to help make your period a little easier? Well gird your loins!!! It’s here!

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The geniuses behind Thinx period underwear have created a line of leotards to make your period a bit less cringe-worthy. Now, if the sound of a leotard that absorbs your period sounds horrifying, please just stay with me for a minute here…

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While I wouldn’t want to go free as a bloody bird in the studio, an absorbent back up layer built into a leo might be one of the best ideas I’ve heard all year.

These leotards are designed with multiple layers of fabric in the nether regions. The outermost layer is antimicrobial and moisture wicking. All those lovely fluids absorb straight through to the inner layer, which locks them in like a magnet. That means guaranteed dryness (I mean, you know, not too dry, that would be weird- just the normal amount of dryness- then again, what is normal? we are all glorious, beautiful delicate flowers! but strong, too, right?! right!). Thinx somehow does all of this while still creating a not-too-thick, not-too-thin leo, perfect for light days as a backup for your tampon during those long rehearsals where you reeeealllly need to “take 5”.

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Best of all, these leotards are reusable! Just rinse with cold water and then toss it in with the rest of your clothes. Seriously! I was shocked, too, but it works like magic. Also, the Thinx leotard is pretty darn cute. Those mesh side panels are *v on trend* and the low criss-cross back is super flattering. The material is thick enough to feel held in but not squished- though I will say it’s a CHEEKY situation, if you know what I mean (wink). I also think this bad boy could be vastly improved with the addition of a shelf bra, as I am a big fan of support!

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SO are you breathing a sigh of relief? Does this sound insane to you? Let a sista know in the comments below!

Pssssst, they make unitards, too! Get yours here.

all photos by Jenay Evans for Setting The Barre. all opinions are my own :)

fade into night

DSC_9579DSC_9650The first time Chris and I met, we were on, in, and around the Rhode Island State House, passing through its archways and clambering up and down those majestic marble stairs.  This time, we moved away to admire the iconic building from a new perspective.Image-1
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Instead of a grey Saturday morning downtown, Chris and I decided to meet on a balmy Tuesday evening at the top of Congdon Street.   Lined with pretty little trees and historic old homes, Prospect Park perches high on the hill, where it overlooks the skyline through a wrought iron fence.  There’s an aura of peace in the tiny park, as couples huddle onto benches pressing their noses together, college students sketch their surroundings, a lone yogi sits in sukhasana.  Providence shows off to the beat of the setting sun.  This city wears amber well.

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The ombré design of this Intermezzo leotard could not have complimented the sky more perfectly that night.  It’s delicate grey dip-dye echoes our old marble friend as it reflects the sky’s twilight performance.
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Every dancer loves a good pinch in their leo, and this beauty has two: one in the front and one in the back.  Its sleek cut pulls in a bit at the waist, and the tightly knit lycra keeps a strong hold, creating an overall slimming effect.  I prefer my leotards snug this way (I felt totally supported by the full lining), but if you are into a looser feel, I would recommend sizing up.

In music, an intermezzo is a piece which fits between two other, more dramatic, entities.  Like the golden hour of sunset linking day to night, this leotard marries dark and light with its elegant subtle fade.

Intermezzo leotard, c/o firstposition.com

photos of me by Christopher Emerson, photo of the skyline by me.

ladylike

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I’ve never met a dancer who is not hyper specific about her taste in leotards.  Tight and supportive, soft and worn in, bright, dark, feminine, sporty, strappy, simple; There are a lot of options and even more opinions.  Of course, I am no exception to the rule, preferring my leotards supportive yet soft, and feminine but flattering.  Despite my mother’s insistence that my bust is fairly compact, my tendency for dramatics has me completely convinced otherwise, resulting in a certain inclination towards what I like to lovingly refer to as “boob-friendly leotards”, i.e. those which suit a slightly fuller chest.  I tend to favor dark colored (re: slimming) leo’s that cut high on the hip, dip low in the back, and offer some kind of unique feature to set it apart in a sea of basic black camisoles.

All details considered, you can imagine my apprehension in opening the package that contained a custom-designed leotard, made especially for my blog, by a young dancer (and I mean young!) whom I have never even met.  I held the package in my hands, waiting just long enough for my curiosity to swell into a tangible entity outside of myself.  A few nearby other dancers took note of my anxiousness and encouraged me to rip open the package.  When I did, we were all blown away.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this leotard instantly.  It collects little pieces of light from every beautiful balletic dream and weaves them all up into a fairytale of a garment.  But what surprised me about my experience receiving this leotard was the way in which every aspect that would normally send me running for cover actually became what I love most in this piece.  You know how sometimes when you try too hard to hide something, it actually becomes more glaringly obvious?  Well, there’s a widely revered characteristic in French women that I have always been envious of; They use their flaws and insecurities as defining features, promoting the effortless allure of unbrushed hair and a good run in your stockings.  In this leotard, I have finally reached an understanding of French female empowerment.  The light colors I habitually avoided now gracefully wrapped their way around my body, and feminine cut-outs along the neckline emphasized the bust I had always spitefully suppressed.  And you know what?  The change felt good.  I strutted my stuff through every rehearsal in the gorgeous creation, and I think my confidence showed; Almost every girl in the company approached me that day complimenting the new leo, and even asking where and how to get one for themselves.  If that doesn’t confirm a successful design, I don’t know what does.

With its soft, delicate, vintage-inspired front and a sporty, clasp-enclosed shrug style back, this leotard really does it all.  It’s so completely one-of-a-kind and like nothing I’ve ever had the pleasuring of dancing in before, and I am proud to know Setting The Barre is being represented so elegantly.  And because Miss Jones knows that no project is complete without a personal touch, she even embroidered my name into the hip.  Incredible.

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So readers, I invite you to experience the bliss that is classic femininity with a decidedly modern twist.  Get your hands on the limited-edition Setting The Barre leotard, with a special reader’s only discount.  Use the code DANCE13 for 10% off at check out.

view the rest of the Miss Jones Dance etsy shop here.

Special thank you to Sarah Jones for her stunning design and Jenay Evans for her brilliant photography.

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

all shadows whisper of the sun

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“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.” -William Shakespeare

Between bruised knees and sore ankles, the pink satin dream of a young girl in pigtails tends to slip away, masked by the shadows of a calloused reality.  But sitting in the small pool of sunshine by the window in studio 2 yesterday, draped in the tulle fairytale my younger self once subconsciously designed, I couldn’t help but bask in the dreaminess of it all.  Of course I promptly tweaked my hip upon standing, and felt compelled to reflect on the relationship between light and shadows; Polar opposites upon first inspection, in reality one could not exist without the other.

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Interdependent and eternally connected, light and darkness tempt and rescind each other, distort and define each other.  The very existence of one both creates and negates the other, making it impossible for them to separate or marry, and the incoherent dance endures, a perpetual representation of the incidental union of two contradicting entities.   Ballet often manifests itself in this paradoxical friction, simultaneously embodying beauty and disfigurement, intense pain and a lack of fear.  On stage we exhaust ourselves to present the audience with artificial ease; We submit to hours of physical malady in the production of an unmatched elegance.  But if we listen to Shakespeare, we come to understand that most dreams take the form of a shadow while being pursued by those who truly aspire.  That is, it is in this work and toil that dreams eventually come to fruition.  One relies on the other, no matter how antithetical they may seem.

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In these moments, where the dream and reality intersect, I wonder if a bit of borrowed spirit from a younger, poufy-tutu-clad me isn’t the missing link between my light and my shadows.

PS- Do you like my special new leotard?  Stay tuned for a very exciting announcement, coming soon!

photos by Jenay Evans