Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

Audition Dancewear Wants To Make Dance More Eco-Friendly

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.


Kathy and Shelly met while their daughters were dancing together at Lovett Dance Center in Orange County, California. Shelly, who went to fashion school and has worked in the industry, started making dance costumes for her daughter, Suzanna, and soon ended up designing the costumes for the whole competition team. Kathy ran marketing and social media for her in exchange for free costumes, and the beginning of a partnership was formed.

The team started making leotards when they saw a gap in the industry: There were very few fashionable options for tween girls. "We found that our girls didn't want to shop their size because it was too young," says Kathy. "It was pink and it was bows, and they wanted to wear what the older girls were wearing." From there, Audition Dancewear was born.

The founders of Audition Dancewear, Kathy Perry and Shelly Lathrum, with their daughters, Caroline and Suzanna

Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

It was Caroline and Suzanna who brought up the idea of eco-friendly dancewear after they saw some clothing companies advertising sustainable products online. "In the girls' generation, everyone is concerned with the environment," says Shelly, "and because of them, it's on our radar so much more." Fabrics like nylon and polyester are made of plastics, which many people don't realize when they're buying dancewear, says Caroline.

Shelly learned that one of their suppliers was selling Repreve, a fabric made from recycled water bottles that brands like Patagonia, Quiksilver and Roxy have used to make swimsuits. For Audition Dancewear's recent back-to-school collection, all the black leotards were made from Repreve, and their holiday collection debuts two new colors—teal and red. Next year, the company has plans to launch a printed line of recycled leotards.

Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

Caroline and Suzanna both dance professionally—Caroline in the corps at Houston Ballet and Suzanna in Boston Ballet's second company—and they often share the leotards with their friends and colleagues. "It's important to us to get real dancers' feedback," says Shelly. So far, the response to the eco-friendly pieces has been positive. The fabric is smooth and silky, with good stretch recovery, and is as comfortable as any other leotard. "A lot of the girls at Houston Ballet are really fashionable, and they always like these when I bring them in," says Caroline. "I bring in boxes and everyone takes them."

The Repreve leotards are now Audition Dancewear's most popular sellers, available to ship worldwide, and for in-person sales in around 20 stores. In addition to adding more colors and patterns to the collection, the team is continuing to seek other ways of making their business more sustainable, like using recycled packaging to ship their products, and drawing inspiration from designers like Stella McCartney who are working to make the fashion industry greener.

"We're trying to do our little bit, whatever we can," says Kathy. "We want to leave the planet a better place."

Latest Posts


Cory Weaver, Courtesy San Francisco Opera

Dancing Divas: How Performing in Operas Can Be a Career High Note

From the flamenco of Carmen to the sprites of Rusalka, dance plays a supporting role in countless operas—and opera can play a significant part in a ballet dancer's career. Pointe went behind the curtain with three dancers whose artistic paths have led them to the opera world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
James Barkley, Courtesy Dance for Change

Take Class From Celebrated Black Dancers and Raise Money for the NAACP Through Dance for Change

Since the nationwide fight against racial inequality took center stage in May, organizations across the dance world have been looking for meaningful ways to show their support, rather than fall back on empty social media signifiers. July 10-11, Diamante Ballet Dancewear is taking action with Dance for Change, a two-day event dedicated to fundraising for the NAACP, and amplifying the voices of Black professional dancers.

Organized by Diamante Ballet Dancewear's founder, Nashville Ballet 2 dancer Isichel Perez, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre teacher Elise Gillum, Dance for Change makes it easy to participate. Dancers need only to make a donation to the NAACP (in any amount) and email proof to diamante.ballet@gmail.com to be given online access to a full schedule of Zoom master classes taught by Black pros artists. Teachers include Ballet Memphis' George Sanders, Boston Ballet's Daniel Durrett, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Corey Bourbonniere, and more. "It's important that we amplify BIPOC voices during this time, and it's also important that we're conscious of where we're putting our dollars," says Bourbonniere. "Diamante is doing both with Dance for Change, and I'm honored to be in this talented group of melanated dancers."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Houston Ballet's "Dancing With Myself" Captures How We All Feel Right Now

What are dancers to do when they're still stuck at home in isolation? After all, there's only so much time you can spend taking barre, tackling your reading list (or Netflix queue) or ticking items off your to-do list. Even wistfully looking out the window has lost its appeal after a few months.

That's when you need a dance party—even it's for a party of one.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks