Photo Courtesy Grace Earp.

Ballerina Artist Breaks Down Technique With a Dose of Whimsy

Though self-described "ballerina artist" Grace Earp, 17, has been drawing her whole life, she only started ballet three years ago. Earp, an Irvine, CA native, had been selling her art—mostly of cartoon princesses and animals—at conventions like San Diego Comic Con and Wondercon since she was 12. But as ballet grew to be a larger part of her life, the subject of her work shifted. "I started drawing what I was learning; a pointed foot or hyperextended leg," says Earp. Today, Earp has over 31,000 followers on Instagram for her line of drawings showing both the rigorous and fun sides of technical ballet training. Earp often chooses a single position or step like pas de chat or croisé devant and shows all the components that go into it, from "foot pointed like a dagger" to "anticipation of the next movement" to "focused mind." The dancers in her drawings are whimsically dressed, and she often incorporates pop culture elements like Wonder Woman or Disney princesses.


Drawing Courtesy Grace Earp.


Drawing Courtesy Grace Earp.

Earp's inspiration comes from a paradox that dancers are all too familiar with: it takes a lot of effort to look effortless. "My goal in drawing technical ballet moves is to show the complexity behind ballet training," says Earp. "Many times people underestimate the rigors of ballet because it's so beautiful. I play the role in saying, 'it takes a lot to be beautiful.'" She often incorporates the corrections that she receives in class. Earp begins by sketching a move; once she's satisfied with the lines, she brings it onto the computer to clean and to add color and text. Though Earp only posted her first technical drawing in March of last year, she says it "shot off from there," leading to the following that she has today. She's even turned her art into a business, selling t-shirts, prints and buttons online. Between ballet, school and drawing, Earp must be pretty busy, but that doesn't stop her from planning for the future. She hopes to expand onto YouTube, giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process behind each piece.

Grace Earp at her drawing table. Photo Courtesy Earp.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks