"Both professions require one to know their bodies really well, and to have discipline, like understanding how to move and make shapes. If you know your body, it’s not as awkward when you’re modeling because you’re already super conscious," says Laura Love about the connection between modeling and dance to James Lin of nymag.com's "The Cut" blog. Love performed with Los Angeles Ballet before quitting the stage a couple of years ago to become a model. The fashion world fell for her after photographer Bruce Weber shot an epic 15-page editorial with Love and New York City Ballet's Chase Finlay (our last issue's cover boy) for the April 2011 issue of French Vogue. But although Love says she enjoys having more time since giving up the disciplined life of a ballet dancer, she admits she still dances one and a half to three hours a day. You can take the girl out of the ballet world, but you can't take ballet out of the girl.
The first time I was called to learn Mozartiana, I didn't think I would actually get to do it. It's a coveted ballerina role in the company, and I was still early in my career. But I got to dance it once or twice, and then not again for many years. The ballet isn't in our repertoire that often, so each time we've performed it I've been at a different level as a person and as an artist.
Mozartiana's music, an orchestral suite of the same name, was written by Tchaikovsky as a tribute to Mozart and is based on four of the great composer's piano works.
Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB
I have a terrible fear of falling when doing turns on pointe. I sometimes cry in class when we have to do new turns that I'm not used to. I can only do bad singles on a good day, while some of my classmates are doing doubles and triples. How can I get over this fear? —Gaby
Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."
What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.
Sarah Steele working out outdoors near the Washington Monument
Courtesy The Washington Ballet