New York City Ballet's Olivia Boisson. Photo by Melika Dez, Courtesy Black Iris Project.
In 2016, choreographer Jeremy McQueen founded the Black Iris Project with the aim of bringing together predominantly minority dancers each summer to create works that celebrate diversity and black history. This year, he's mixing it up. In honor of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday on July 18, McQueen created 100 FISTS in collaboration with photographer Melika Dez. Each day, for the hundred days leading up to Mandela's birthday, BIP has released a photo on social media of a black dancer in a New York City location, posed with their hand in a fist. Each photo is paired with an inspirational quote by Mandela. Pointe caught up with McQueen to find out how this project came together and what's next for the fledgling collective.
Ballet-inspired clothing is nothing new, and the dance and fashion worlds have always been in conversation with each other. Think of how many prominent choreographers have enlisted fashion designers to create costumes for their work, or how ballet flats have become a wardrobe staple.
Lara Tong, Mimi Staker, Olivia Boisson, Unity Phelan and Rachel Hutsell (photo via PUMA)
But lately, activewear brands are catching on too, with collaborations that emphasize the athleticism and strength of ballet dancers. There's Misty Copeland's "I Will What I Want" campaign for Under Armour, the recent GapFit campaign featuring dancers like Calvin Royal III, Keenan Kampa and Mayara Pineiro, and, as of next week, a whole line of ballet-inspired sneakers and sportswear from PUMA, as part of their "Do You" campaign.
The Basket Heart sneaker (via PUMA)
The collection is part of PUMA's partnership with New York City Ballet, which began last summer. Called Swan Pack, it's made up of mostly black and white pieces, including a sneaker with pointe shoe-esque ribbons and a black cape with feather embellishments.
While we're excited about the clothes themselves, the best part of all is the campaign's stunning photos, which feature NYCB corps dancers Lara Tong, Olivia Boisson, Mimi Staker, Unity Phelan and Rachel Hutsell wearing some of the new looks. And the "Do You" message, encouraging self-confidence and individuality, can't be beat.
Lara Tong and Olivia Boisson (via PUMA)
The collection launches on February 1, and will be available in stores and online.