perform

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I have spent the greater half of my life looking in the mirror. This is not the reflection (harhar) of a vain mentality, but the strange requirement of an artist seeking precision in physical lines. Yes, movement quality and emotional expression are absolutely essential, but intentional formation of the body churns in the heart of classical ballet.

This time spent studying my reflection, though not always easy on the ego (we can’t all look like Sylvie), has actually proven quite informative. Over the years I have learned a great deal about my body, how to command its strengths and how to deal with its weaknesses. I’ve also picked up a few really helpful tweaks for simulating a cleaner line. An incredible coach once told me,

“Ballet is an illusion. We must strive for the unattainable always and harmonize where we fall short.”

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Enter Zarely. Engineered with comfort and aesthetics in mind, Zarely tights aim to create a more visually stunning appearance for the wearer. Using the intricate art of optics inspired by illusionist Victor Vasarely (also the inspiration for the brand’s name), each piece features unique designs catered to a dancer’s highly distinct needs.

For example, the performance tights (pictured here) feature special light-reflecting fabric to create a slimming effect and a thicker weave at the toes and heel for traction inside pointe shoes. No more ripping up the heels to avoid shoe-slippage! Or was that just me?

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Personally, I like my performance tights to be thin enough that those hard-earned leg muscles aren’t hidden. Of course this exposure is usually only attained through sacrifice; a thinner knit compromises the fabric’s strength, making it more susceptible to tear. In other words, yes, I’ve ripped holes in tights straight out of the packaging before. Moments before a performance. No bueno. Zarely tights are thick but also sheer (sorcery), fusing durability with delicacy to create a truly stunning look.

Like the rehearsal tights, the waistband on these is not too tight (goodbye, muffin top), but also not saggy, perfect for dancers like moi who tend to pull our performance tights up Urkel-style to the top rib before hooking into that tutu (wink). They also have a super flattering- yet somehow tactically undetectable- seam up the back of the leg. Ooh la la…

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Perhaps my favorite feature, though, is the softness of these things. They are a special kind of, “Okay, okay, I’m slipping into these things at 8 am for a morning school show and I’ll be wearing them until the end of stage rehearsal at 10 o’clock tonight and I can do it all without itching my quads off” soft. Yeah.

But don’t just take my word for it, see (and feel!) for yourself; Setting The Barre readers receive an exclusive 20% discount by entering the code KIRSTENZARELY at checkout.

 

all photos by Jenay Evans for Setting The Barre.

rehearse

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Ballet is one of those things that spills itself into every bit of your life, seeping out from the studio and into places you’d least expect. An example? Okay, from Kindergarten to Grade 5, my rigorous training schedule “required” that I wear tights and a leotard underneath my regular clothes to school most days, so as to be on time for my dance classes that afternoon. Let me clarify- this was never actually imperative, but a cocktail of young bunheadity and an obsessive compulsion toward punctuality had me convinced wearing tights under my OshKosh B’gosh overalls was not only convenient but absolutely necessary. Plus, I felt a bit like a baby ballerina Clark Kent.

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Fast-forward fifteen years, my legs are so accustomed to that itchy tights feeling tht I actively avoid wearing them outside the studio. Too long I’ve suffered the awkward seam-up-the-back-of-the-leg-impression-long-after-you’ve-removed-them-for-the-day situation. Imprints often encircle my shins where convertible tights once lived, haunting far past their shift. But now all of that changes.

Introducing Zarely. Engineered with comfort and aesthetics in mind, the collection of ballet tights and athletic wear was the brainchild of a former San Fransisco Ballet soloist. Created by a team of dancers, designers, and physical therapists, Zarely’s uniquely engineered ballet tights follow a 3-stage system of rehearseperformrecover, specifically designed to support the strenuous schedule of a professional dancer. I’m not one for gimmicks, but with personal endorsements from dancers like Dores Andrés and Lauren Lovette, I couldn’t wait to see what these tights were all about…

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…and woah baby, are they nice. The first thing I must say is they are sooooft. And I mean buttery soft. The waistband is also somehow non-suffocating, which makes me wonder how/why we’ve been wearing glorified sausage casings around our waists all this time. The rehearsal tights (pictured here) feature a special smart compression technology to fight inflammation and swelling, with extra support in hard-working areas (think ankles and knees) and convertible edges are crafted with special attention to ensure flexible, run-free openings (hallelujah). All Zarely tights are fabricated with a special light-reflecting material for a slimming effect and a patterned weave to create a subtly hyperextended illusion. Dancers work incredibly hard every day to form a line worth watching. Twenty-first century technology that can help get the job done? Sign me up!

I’m obviously pretty excited about Zarely and will be featuring more of their designs later this week (stay tuned!), but if you’re interested in finding your best lines, Setting The Barre readers can enter the code KIRSTENZARELY at checkout for an exclusive 20% discount.

all photos by Jenay Evans for Setting The Barre.