Ballet Stars

Côté Cour Put Together a Ballet Dream Team to Debut Its New Collection (& It's Amazing)

NYCB's Miriam Miller and Unity Phelan in Côté Cour. Photo by Erin Baiano.

How do you make a leotard line stand out when there are so many options? Erica Sabatini, a former soloist with Carolina Ballet, makes it look easy with her pairing of architectural designs and bright colors. Before officially launching Côté Cour in 2015, Sabatini's interest in fashion was sparked during her Balanchine-based training at the Miami City Ballet School.

Phelan in MIA Multi Turquoise. Photo by Erin Baiano.


"I fell head over heels for the architecture and color palette of the Art Deco influence that is so prevalent in South Beach," Sabatini says. "The neo-classical Balanchine sass became synonymous with the eclectic rhythm of South Beach, and I began to dream up leotard designs that captured the contrasts and complements between the two."

As a result, Sabatini's fashion choices always stood out in class—often trading in traditional dancewear for her mother's old statement pieces, which included 80s high-cut, Japanese-inspired bodysuits and colorful Emilio Pucci printed leggings and hair scarves. "I would live-stream the Marc Jacobs show during New York Fashion Week before heading to the barre," she says on knowing that her post-ballet career would involve fashion.

Phelan and Miller in POETTO Classic. Photo by Erin Baiano.

After internships with former dancewear brand LOLA Stretch and fashion labels like Veronica Beard and Elizabeth & James, Sabatini switched to the fashion industry once she retired from Carolina Ballet and moved to New York City in 2014. Creating Côté Cour just a year later, Sabatini's detailed designs are all handmade in NYC by CFDA manufacturers.

For her latest Côté Cour launches (available now on her site), Sabatini brought together a crew of former and current ballerinas to bring her vision to life. "I wanted to collaborate with dancers because it's a language that no one else can truly speak," Sabatini explains. "It was also important for me to work with a group of females looking to do something outside of the box within the dance community."

Miller in CC x AMD Jaune skirt. Photo by Erin Baiano.

For her Balanchine turned high-fashion shoot, Sabatini immediately knew she wanted to work with photographer and former American Ballet Theatre dancer Erin Baiano. "She's not only photographed top fashion shows (including Delpozo, which inspired the shoot), but she shares in my understanding of the delicate balance between the art of ballet and the commerce of fashion," Sabatini says. She also teamed up with fellow dancer-designer Abigail Mentzer, together creating Jaune, a new slinky skirt exclusive to Côté Cour's site.

To model her designs, Sabatini had her eye on two New York City Ballet dancers, corps member Miriam Miller and soloist Unity Phelan. "I'm shorter, so I never had the opportunity to dance some of the stronger female roles that Balanchine designated for his tall girls. I knew I wanted to work with a tall dancer for this photoshoot, and I immediately remembered seeing Miriam on stage and thinking, 'Who is that?' I was equally floored by Unity," Sabatini says before adding that it all comes back to her original inspiration: Balanchine. "Both girls are absolutely stunning, but more importantly, they both embody the Balanchine movement quality I'm so attracted to."

Miller and Phelan in MIA Multi Pink and MIA Multi Turquoise. Photo by Erin Baiano.

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Ballet Stars
Canadian junior finalist Mya Kresnyak in a variation from "Paquita." Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

On June 10, 119 dancers from 19 countries gathered in Jackson, MS to compete in the USA International Ballet Competition. Today, the USA IBC announced the list of 32 finalists, who will compete for medals and cash awards in Round III, held June 19-21. All of the finalists will receive a travel stipend, and medalists and award winners will be announced at the competition's gala on June 22. See the full list below, and stay tuned all week on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we bring you the latest from Jackson, live.

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On June 20, Royal Danish Ballet will open the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival with a weeklong run in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre. The celebrated relationship between the Copenhagen-based company and the Pillow dates back to 1954, when leading RDB soloist Inge Sand stepped in to replace a dancer from another company at the last minute, resulting in her U.S. debut. Her popularity led to the company's inaugural U.S. performance at the festival the next summer. According to the Pillow's director of preservation, Norton Owen, this was also the first time that works by August Bournonville, the famed 19th-century Danish choreographer, were seen in this country. Following its success at Jacob's Pillow, RDB made its New York City debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1956, and in 1957 the King of Denmark knighted Jacob's Pillow founder Ted Shawn for his role in bringing Danish ballet to America. Over the next 20 years, soloists from RDB returned to the Berkshires frequently to great acclaim; their most recent visit was in 2007.

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Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters has a good thing going on. Not only is he one of the company's rising young dancers, but he's also a ballet celebrity on social media, where he charts his life on Instagram and on his hugely popular YouTube series, "The Pre Show" (which he describes as "tons of ballet, banter, boys and lots of backstage shenanigans").

The Dover, New Hampshire, native, who seems just as comfortable in a pair of pink heels as he does onstage, trained at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Portsmouth School of Ballet. While a member of Houston Ballet II, he landed an apprenticeship with the company after winning the Contemporary Dance Prize at the 2011 Prix de Lausanne. He joined the main company that same year and was promoted to soloist in December 2017. Known for his big personality, elegantly long lines and sensual flow in contemporary work, Watters, 26, is ready to take on the next phase of his career. He recently spoke with Pointe about his new rank and his mission to help others feel proud of who they are.

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Sara Webb and Connor Walsh with Artists of Houston Ballet in "Swan Lake" choreographed by Stanton Welch. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


The Australian Ballet's Triple Bill, Verve, Includes New Work by Company Dancer Alice Topp

Verve, a triple-bill program from The Australian Ballet running June 21-30 in Melbourne, will host revivals of works from resident choreographers Stephen Baynes and Tim Harbour, as well as a world premiere from company coryphée Alice Topp. Topp's Aurum is inspired by kintsugi, a Japanese art in which broken ceramics are mended using lacquer colored with silver or gold, so that the cracks are emphasized, instead of hidden. In Aurum, Topp applies that philosophy to the human ability to find beauty in vulnerability and imperfections. Completing the bill are Baynes's Constant Variants, which pairs neo-classical ballet with a Tchaikovsky score, and Harbour's Filigree and Shadow, a contemporary ballet featuring striking set and lighting design.

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Ballet Stars
ABT principals Christine Shevchenko and James Whiteside rehearse "Swan Lake" in Singapore.

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Ballet Stars
Carla Fracci in "Giselle," via YouTube.

In the late 1950s and 60s, Italian ballerina Carla Fracci won the world over with her definitive interpretations of romantic ballets like La Sylphide, La Sonnambula, and, of course, Giselle. At just 22 years old, she left her home stage at La Scala in Milan to begin guesting internationally, eventually forming a famous partnership with the dashing danseur Erik Bruhn at American Ballet Theatre. The two appear together in this film of ABT's Giselle, in which Fracci's Act I variation is as near to perfection as any Giselle before or after.

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