Sarasota Ballet principal Danielle Rae Brown modeling one of her RAE Boutique leotards. Courtesy RAE Boutique.

A Fashionable Side Biz: Meet 5 Dancer Designers Putting Their Own Stamp on Dancewear

Dancer-made dancewear is tried and true, from Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' RubiaWear to Ballerina Couture by National Ballet of Canada's Tina Pereira. As a designer myself (@littlebirdskirts), I'm always inspired by how my colleagues bring their unique style into the studio, as many of them also create their own pieces to wear in class and rehearsal. Beyond the bigger name brands, you don't have to go far to find one-of-a-kind dancewear—and you can feel good about supporting other artists' work. Check out these five professional dancers who have developed their own creative dancewear lines—you may even find a new back-to-class look!


Naomi Tanioka, TaniokaWear

Cincinnati Ballet dancer Naomi Tanioka makes rompers, leotards, tights, biketards and skirts, and she can even alter dancewear to fit your body. Actually, I'm pretty sure there isn't anything she can't do. Where some leotard brands feature a few basic styles, TaniokaWear offers plenty of options—from zipper accents and cool cut-outs, to mesh and racing stripe. And she certainly doesn't shy away from punchy prints. Available at Etsy.com.

Victoria Arrea, Toti Dance Apparel

Costa Rican-native Victoria Arrea, a dancer with The Washington Ballet, has come out with her own line of leotards, or "Totitards," as they're affectionately called. Striking a balance between modern and romantic, Arrea's styles have clean lines and sophisticated prints. And with names like Tamarindo, Cahuita and Flamingo, how much cooler could it get? Newly added are shorts and pants in the same classic silhouettes. Available at Etsy.com.

Danielle Rae Brown, R.A.E. Boutique

Sarasota Ballet principal Danielle Rae Brown's collection of vintage-inspired dancewear and true vintage accessories are the perfect match for the retro enthusiast. From leotards, skirts and warm-ups, to tights and shorts, she brings a fresh look to her dancewear. Cutest of all might be her curated vintage items—whether it's an old fashioned tin filled with everything you need to sew shoes, or an assortment of catch-alls and trays for your dressing room. She also does costume commissions for guestings. Available at raeboutique.com.

Elizabeth Barreto, Baretto Dancewear

Unique dancewear is often marketed more towards women, but who says guys can't have cool tights? Ballet Idaho principal dancer Elizabeth Barreto's Barreto Dancewear makes gorgeously sleek leotards and skirts, but her men's tights stand out as some of the most colorful around. With more than 80 color options, including ombre, her line of tights and shorts are sure to make an impression. For more info, go to barretodancewear.com or her shop at etsy.com.

Abby Jayne Deangelo, AJay's Crochet

Bridging the gap between studio wear and daily threads, Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Abby Jayne Deangelo is crocheting her way into studios near you. She mostly focuses on customizable orders, but all of her creations are colorful, durable and made with love. From leg warmers to crocheted crop tops, Deangelo can do it all! Go to AJay's Crochet's Instagram and Facebook pages to order.

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Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Cicely Tyson and the Enduring Legacy of Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem

Cicely Tyson, the legendary 96-year-old Black actress whose February 16 funeral at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church was attended by, among others, Tyler Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, is remembered for performances that transcended stereotypes and made an indelible impression on a nation's heart and soul.

Among the most fondly remembered is her breakout role in the 1972 movie Sounder, which depicts a Black sharecropper family's struggle to survive in the Jim Crow South. The role catapulted Tyson to stardom, winning her an Academy Award nomination and a reputation as someone committed to enhancing Blacks' representation in the arts. Throughout a seven-decade career, countless critically acclaimed, award-winning roles in films, onstage and on television reaffirmed that image. Yet one role reflecting the depth of that commitment is much less visible—the supporting one she played working with longtime friend Arthur Mitchell when he envisioned, shaped and established the groundbreaking Dance Theatre of Harlem.

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As Ballet Looks Toward Its Future, Let's Talk About Its Troubling Emotional Demands

As a ballet student, I distinctively remember being told that to survive ballet as a profession, one must be exceptionally thick-skinned and resilient. I always assumed it was because of the physically demanding nature of ballet: long rehearsal hours, challenging and stressful performances, and physical pain.

It wasn't until I joined a ballet company that I learned the true meaning behind those words: that the reason one needs thick skin is not because of the physical demands, but because of the unfair and unnecessary emotional demands.

Undoubtedly, emotional and physical strength go hand in hand to some extent. But the kind of emotional demand I am talking about here is different; it is not the strength one finds in oneself in moments of fatigue or unwillingness. It is the strength one must have when being bullied, humiliated, screamed at, manipulated or harassed.

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Artists of the Australian Ballet perform the "Kingdom of the Shades" from La Bayadère. Lynette Wills, Courtesy Australian Ballet.

Catch the Australian Ballet’s Livestreamed Season Premiere This Weekend

After a yearlong hiatus, the Australian Ballet is ready to return to the stage. The company's season opener, titled Summertime at the Ballet, packs a great deal of firsts: It marks the ballet's first performance before a live audience since the start of the pandemic; the first time the company takes the stage under the leadership of its new artistic director, David Hallberg; and the first time Australian Ballet performs at the Melbourne & Olympic Parks Margaret Court Arena. Another important first: The performance will be livestreamed not only in Australia but all over the world. Summertime at the Ballet will be broadcast February 28 at 11:45 am AEDT (that's 7:45 pm EST on February 27 here in the U.S.), with bonus features, such as interviews and commentary. It will be accessible for 48 hours to accommodate all time zones.

This livestream will be provided via the Australian Ballet's newly launched digital platform, Live on Ballet TV. "One of my main goals is for the company to be seen by as many people around the world as possible," says Hallberg, the American-born international star who took the helm at the Australian Ballet in January. "Which is why Live on Ballet TV is such an integral part of my vision artistically."

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