Studio to Street
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

"I'm kind of a collector of clothes," says Natalie Varnum. The Houston Ballet corps member turned a spare room in her home into a walk-in closet and fills it with eccentric pieces. "I love big, clear oversized sunglasses; or a high-waisted pant, socks and loafers; or a newsboy hat," she says. Varnum is inspired by icons from the '60s and '70s—Jimi Hendrix, Jane Birkin, Elton John—and she finds endless ideas on social media. She'll search Pinterest for photos, follow up-and-coming stylists on Instagram or update her own blog with "outfit of the day" posts. It was through Instagram that she recently met South Korea–based designer Sandra Meynier Kang, who reached out in hopes of collaborating and sent her a sample from her new leotard line. "It's the best way to make faraway friends now," Varnum says.

In the studio, Varnum takes a more conventional approach—sometimes. "I like a classic ballerina look, like light pink, long sleeves," she says, "or I go for something completely crazy." She commissions fun patterned leotards from her friend, former company dancer Jordan Reed, who now runs Lone Reed Designs. Her collection includes leos printed with pizza and doughnuts. Whatever she's wearing, Varnum is not afraid to stand out. "There's a time and place for a classic little black dress," she says, "but I tend to go for the more out-there pieces and colors."

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Ballet Stars
One of the many outfits Kansas City Ballet's Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck sports on her Instagram, @ivanadance.

While we know you practically live in your leos and tights (and a tightly wound bun), summer is the perfect time to literally let your hair down and show off your style outside the studio.

Not sure where to start? Take a page from these pro dancers' ensembles. From classically chic to kooky and daring, these ballerinas know how to express themselves—on and off the stage. The #1 rule? There are no rules.

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From left: Me, Madeline Skelly and Natalie Varnum

From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

July 10, 2016

Today we said goodbye to Melbourne—well, some of us did. A few of the dancers are staying in Australia to travel because we are now on a two week layoff! Woohoo!

 

Our last shows of Romeo and Juliet went well.  The Australian audience really responded to the performances, and many of the reviews were very enthusiastic about our company. There was a champagne toast on the last evening to celebrate the success. I think everyone was happy to finish the tour.

 

One last glimpse of the Melbourne skyline

We are about to get back on that 16 hour flight, but I miss my puppy and it's worth it! I think what I am going to miss most about Melbourne is their strong coffee and chocolate Tim Tam cookies. I hope all of you enjoyed following my journey on this tour! I really did enjoy writing for you. If you want to keep following me, my Instagram account is jac_long.

XO,

Jacquelyn

Romeo and Juliet costumes

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