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

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

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.

Latest Posts


The author, Lucy Van Cleef, dancing Balanchine's Serenade at Los Angeles Ballet. Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

My 12-Year Journey to a Bachelor’s Degree While Dancing Professionally

If you'd have told me in 2009 that it would take 12 years to earn my bachelor's degree, I never would have believed you. Back then, I was a dancer in my early 20s and in my second year with Los Angeles Ballet. I was used to the straightforward demands of the professional ballet world. I knew that hard work and willpower were the currency you paid in the studio, and that the thrill of live performance made all that investment worth it. What I didn't know then is how life's twists and turns aren't always so straightforward. In hindsight, I can see how my winding road to higher education has strengthened me—and my relationship with the ballet world—more than I ever could have imagined.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
New York City Ballet principal and Dance Against Cancer Co-Founder Daniel Ulbricht in New York City's Columbus Circle. Travis Magee, Courtesy DAC.

Dance Against Cancer Is Back With a Starry Outdoor Gala—and It Will Also Be Livestreamed

The annual Dance Against Cancer gala is back in full force this year, bringing major dance stars together on Monday, June 21, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Held in Lincoln Center's outdoor Damrosch Park, it will be New York City's largest in-person ticketed event since the onset of the pandemic. And for the first time, this year's gala will also be livestreamed by Nel Shelby Productions for international audiences. The evening's finale—a tribute to first responders, medical professionals, educators, mentors and other heroes who have lost their lives to cancer or are battling it—stars special guest Kevin Boseman, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Graham Dance Company, a cancer survivor, and the brother of the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Margo Moritz, Courtesy Alonzo King LINES Ballet

How Adult Students Can Prep for a Safe Return to the Studio

After a year (or more) of virtual classes, it's finally time to unplug and head back to the studio.

Exciting? Absolutely. A little scary? Definitely.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks