Ballet Stars

Royal Danish Ballet Principal Ida Praetorius' Dance Bag is Filled With Glamorous Hand-Me-Downs

Beth Dixson

Ida Praetorius' dance bag is filled with hand-me-downs. The Royal Danish Ballet principal likes her warm-ups to come with a backstory. "It's what I wear all day. I never wear my normal clothes, so I like bringing the people I love with me," she says. Like most of what Praetorius carries, her striped legwarmers were handed down from a colleague in the company. "I borrowed one from a friend while in rehearsal for Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and then the next day when I went to give it back to him, he gave me the other one instead," says Praetorius. The frayed blue Repetto overalls that she wore throughout rehearsals for her recent performances at New York City's Joyce Theater are a last-minute addition to her collection. Praetorius snagged them from fellow principal Kizzy Matiakis, her dressing-room mate back in Copenhagen. "I love her wardrobe, and tend to steal from her," says Praetorius. "I just said, 'I'm going to New York!' and I grabbed a bunch of her stuff."




Praetorius shows the tag in her practice tutu.

Beth Dixson

Though she's the youngest principal in the company, Praetorius carries around a bit of RDB history in her two most-prized items. Her practice tutu used to belong to famed Danish ballerina Silja Schandorff, who retired from the company in 2009. "I like that it still has her name in it," says Praetorius of the faded label stitched inside. "I just keep sewing the tutu because it's falling apart."

Praetorius' favorite warm-up top is vintage Royal Danish Ballet.

Beth Dixson

To stay warm, Praetorius often throws on a large, button-down shirt that was once part of the RDB theater crew's uniform. Praetorius first saw it in a box in the costume shop being sent to storage. "I was like, 'Storage? How can you?' and so they said, 'Fine, just take it!' " she says. "It's very vintage. My friends are a bit jealous."

The Goods

Beth Dixson

Clockwise from top left: Freed custom pointe shoes ("I use these special ribbons from Paris. They're super-thin and stretchy, and almost become part of the leg line"), striped legwarmers, foot massaging ball ("My friend makes these from bouncy balls in the set shop at the theater"), Bang & Olufsen headphones, box cutter, Bloch booties, embroidery thread for darning, Bunheads Stitch Kit, Compeed Blister Plasters, nail polish ("I wear Klaus Schreck tights and they're really thin, so these are for runs. If tights are too thick, I think it looks like a Barbie leg"), scissors, Sansha slippers, Sommeren er ikke helt forbi by Maria Gerhardt ("I like to have a book when I stretch after rehearsals, when I need my brain to switch off. This is a Danish writer. It's a collection of columns and essays"), Hot Stuff glue, toe tape, Clif Bar.

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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