Just for fun
The Washington Ballet's Brittany Stone. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

While we love fall's crisp air, pumpkin spice treats, and, of course, the official start of the ballet season, there are some downsides. Cooler weather means that unfortunately it's no longer practical to throw on shorts over your leotard and pretend it's a shirt. Does the thought of putting together outfits for autumn stress you out? Don't worry—we've got you covered. We've pulled some of our favorite dancers' street styles from past issues of Pointe to give you the fall fashion inspiration that you're looking for.

Miami City Ballet Principal Simone Messmer

Kyle Froman for Pointe

Simone Messmer's ensemble points out the biggest difference between summer and fall: Jackets! And not heavy, practical winter parkas, but fun, light jackets with the power to instantly transform any outfit. Messmer's selection comes with quite a bit of history; it's her best friend's father's army trench. We also love Messmer's slip-on shoes; they're a reminder to wear all of your favorite no-socks-necessary shoes this season before the snow starts to fall.

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The Washington Ballet's Brittany Stone. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

While we love fall's crisp air, pumpkin spice treats, and, of course, the official start of the ballet season, there are some downsides. Cooler weather means that unfortunately it's no longer practical to throw on shorts over your leotard and pretend it's a shirt. Does the thought of putting together outfits for autumn stress you out? Don't worry—we've got you covered. We've pulled some of our favorite dancers' street styles from past issues of Pointe to give you the fall fashion inspiration that you're looking for.

Miami City Ballet Principal Simone Messmer

Kyle Froman for Pointe

Simone Messmer's ensemble points out the biggest difference between summer and fall: Jackets! And not heavy, practical winter parkas, but fun, light jackets with the power to instantly transform any outfit. Messmer's selection comes with quite a bit of history; it's her best friend's father's army trench. We also love Messmer's slip-on shoes; they're a reminder to wear all of your favorite no-socks-necessary shoes this season before the snow starts to fall.

Ballet Stars
Messmer in "The Fairy's Kiss." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

An ambiguous figure—does she bless or curse an orphaned boy?—but clear-cut in the beauty of her steps, the title character of Alexei Ratmansky's The Fairy's Kiss gained dimension, thanks to Simone Messmer's bold portrayal. In this history-steeped premiere for Miami City Ballet, the principal dancer—then in her second year with the company—flashed through as an obstinate spirit, a mysterious gypsy and a shrewd seductress: all manifestations of a beguiling dealer in destiny. Whether leading her supernatural posse or intruding upon human affairs, Messmer's fairy stayed aloft on Stravinsky's music to follow the dictates of drama, which Ratmansky distilled from a Hans Christian Andersen story and its earlier ballet productions. Messmer has praised the renowned Russian choreographer for the humanity he shows through the logic of his classicism. That sentiment—really a recognition of a practitioner's reverence for the art form—must certainly be mutual.

Messmer in "The Fairy's Kiss." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy MCB.

Ballet Stars
Simone Messmer as Giselle. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

When Miami City Ballet brought Giselle back into its repertoire recently, the company borrowed sets and costumes from American Ballet Theatre. MCB principal (and former ABT soloist) Simone Messmer would dance the lead after years of watching and performing alongside famous ballerinas in the title role. "I had so much attachment to that production, and those costumes," says Messmer, who had danced nearly every role except the coveted Giselle. "When I finally performed it, I think I wore Alessandra Ferri's costume for Act I and Natalia Makarova's for Act II." To add to the emotional roller coaster, ABT company members had written "merde" messages for Messmer's debut and tucked them in with the costumes when they were shipped to Miami.

Taking on a classic role such as Giselle comes with a tall order: respecting history while trying to make history. The ballerina must come into her own within a role, even as she hews close to decades- or centuries-old choreography. Below, Messmer talks about what it took for them to make a classic role her own.


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Ballet Stars
Photo by Kyle Froman

Don't expect to catch Simone Messmer wearing a leotard—at least, not for company class. “Ballet class is for me," she says. “It happens every day, so it turns into a major part of how you set yourself up for the day and how you're feeling. I think it's really important to take control of that." In class, the Miami City Ballet principal prefers comfortable separates with clean lines and long sleeves. When it's time for rehearsal, she'll bring out her leotards and tights. “And I tend to bring the skirt or tutu that's appropriate for the role. I try to start right away, to get a feeling for it," she says.

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Ballet Stars
Messmer in Alexei Ratmansky's Symphony #9. Photo by Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT.

Miami City Ballet's Simone Messmer seeks constant growth.

After dancing with American Ballet Theatre and then one season with San Francisco Ballet, you took a year off. How did you grow during that break?

I was really burnt-out. Taking a year off was invaluable to me. I went back to New York and started working with teacher Willy Burmann, who I have great trust in. He provided mental support, tough love and guidance, and got me back to thinking straight and feeling confident about my dancing.

Now that you're a principal at Miami City Ballet, which roles are you hoping to dance?

I'm excited to sink my teeth into all the Balanchine work—especially coming from artistic director Lourdes Lopez, who worked with him. We're working on his A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I've really fallen in love with Titania. And Serenade has always been my dream ballet.

To whom would you attribute your success?

Probably my mother. I used to be a competitive swimmer. At one point my dance teacher said, “You have to pick one or the other. You don't have time to be great at both." So my mother made me sit down and write my goals for swimming and my goals for ballet. And it says, “Join ABT by 16, get promoted, guest with different companies." She guided me and allowed those things to happen.

What advice would you give younger dancers on asking for what they want out of their career?

Don't ask for things too soon. Dancers demand very quickly when they get into companies. I was guilty of that when I joined ABT. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted until I took a step back and realized where I was and how things worked. Take a couple years to pace yourself and to learn from those with more experience.

If you weren't a dancer, what would you be?

Probably a writer. When I have a conversation, things don't necessarily come out exactly as I'd like. But when you write, you can go back and tweak it.

What would you take with you to a desert island?

A fire starter! I watch way too much “Naked and Afraid." Every time they don't bring a fire starter, they go hungry for weeks!

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

I'm proud that I'm still growing and changing as an artist. I don't feel stagnant, I don't feel antsy, I don't feel stuck—I think that I'm continually moving forward.

News

Miami City Ballet is celebrating its 30th anniversary this coming season, and what better way to kick it off than by announcing promotions and company additions? One exciting new face is Simone Messmer, a former soloist with American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet, who joins MCB as a principal dancer. Jennifer Lauren, a soloist since 2011, has been promoted to principal soloist, while corps members Emily Bromberg and Jovani Furlan, who performed the title roles together in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet last season, are joining the soloist ranks. And if you’ve been watching Teen Vogue’s online reality series “Strictly Ballet 2,” you’ll be happy to know that two of its stars, Ella Titus and Mayumi Enokibara, received corps de ballet contracts.

 

In addition to its usual performances in Miami, Naples and West Palm Beach, the company plans to celebrate its anniversary with a tour Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City next spring.

ABT soloist Simone Messmer is more than your typical bunhead. The girl has pizzazz—an effortless vivacity that's simply magnetic both onstage and off. So I'm super excited to share that she has been chosen to receive the 2010 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship.

 

The two-year fellowship gives talented young dancers additional resources to hone their craft. It pays for guest coaches and teachers, personal trainers, pianists, studio space, mentors and even guest teachers to explore other arts like drama and music. ABT ballet master Clinton Luckett was chosen to offer support and guidance throughout the two years.

 

Congratulations Simone! 

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