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From left: via Elevé; via Ainsliewear

Classwear has come a long way in terms of pairing style with practicality. But while designs like mesh inserts and bold prints can work all year round, other elements lend themselves to particular seasons. Case in point: velvet. The fuzzy fabric has made its way from the runway to real life, and now, even dance rehearsal. Thicker than your average cotton or lycra leotards, velvet's extra cozy material and luxe look makes it perfect for the cooler months ahead. Shop our top picks, and get ready for a barrage of leotard compliments at the barre.

LeaMarie Tatiana Leotard

via LeaMarie

Combining two trends we love, LeaMarie paired a black velvet bodice with mesh sleeves that include polka dots and a pop of teal color.
leamarie.com, $80

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
Photo by Quinn Wharton

Fabrice Calmels has his studio look down to a science: a warm vest, traditional ballet tights, his favorite Lululemon yoga pants and—most importantly—the piece he calls his "accent T-shirt," which acts as the focal point. "I don't like anything too flashy," the Joffrey Ballet dancer says, "but I will always have an accent T-shirt, and it's always a cartoon character that is really well known." His collection of shirts features Pokémon, Transformers and Lilo & Stitch, among others.

Accents play a role in his streetwear, too. "It depends where the accent color is," he says. "If I pick whiter shoes, then I try to keep my jeans and my upper body a little bit darker, plain. If it's my shirt, then my shoes are going to be much more simple." Calmels gets some of his ideas about fashion from friends he's made in the modeling world. After participating in a Versace campaign in Chicago, he signed with IMG Models. He favors an urban vibe—well-cut leather jackets, classic T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. But even with staple pieces, he has an eye for quality and detail. "I'm looking for cool, slightly different, but still simple," he says. "Not just a plain T-shirt you can find anywhere."

Photo by Quinn Wharton

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Kyle Froman

For Zhong-Jing Fang, being an artist extends beyond the studio or stage. "Being a ballerina is such a creative thing, and that gives me permission to be creative in my own life," says the American Ballet Theatre corps member, who's known for her collection of whimsical hats. She discovered her love of hats a few years ago while recovering from an ankle injury, when she came across a shop full of them. "I used to go there and try different hats on and the designer would tell me, 'This hat was inspired by Audrey Hepburn,' or 'This was inspired by Liza Minnelli,' " she says. "It gave me an idea that hats can capture some spirits." She enjoys the process of browsing vintage stores and boutiques and crafting her own outfits.

In rehearsal, Fang's look varies depending on her mood and the repertoire, but she especially loves practice tutus, leotards with lace and mesh detailing, and French brands like Chacott. "I want to look classic and clean because ballet is such a sculpting art—everything is about lines and sculptures," she says. In or out of the studio, fashion is an opportunity to show her individuality. "I think it's very encouraging for ballerinas to think outside of their box," she says. "It's so inspiring because everyone has different style."

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Ballet Stars
One of the many outfits Kansas City Ballet's Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck sports on her Instagram, @ivanadance.

While we know you practically live in your leos and tights (and a tightly wound bun), summer is the perfect time to literally let your hair down and show off your style outside the studio.

Not sure where to start? Take a page from these pro dancers' ensembles. From classically chic to kooky and daring, these ballerinas know how to express themselves—on and off the stage. The #1 rule? There are no rules.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

There's one accessory Brittany Stone doesn't leave home without: her headphones. “I'm always listening to music, usually something from the '90s," she says. “It just makes your day better, especially in the morning when you don't really want to get up and take class." Her playlist is full of “good walking music"—upbeat songs that get her moving and motivated. The rest of her street style is characterized by cozy standbys: T-shirts and jeans, white sweaters, overalls and her favorite shoes, Dr. Martens. “They're basically my staple," she says. “I have three pairs. I wear them all the time, especially in the winter."

In dancewear, Stone's priority is seeing her lines. “My style in the studio is very simple, very classic. I almost always wear pink tights," she says. For essentials like toe pads and tights, she turns to Discount Dance Supply: “A lot of times the girls in the company will coordinate when we need stuff and make a big order, because the shipping's cheaper." Outside the studio, too, Stone notes, shopping is a great way to bond with new friends—something she's been doing a lot of since transitioning from Boston Ballet to The Washington Ballet last fall. “Everyone in the company is so nice and welcoming. It's been really good," she says.

Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

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News

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.

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

Ballet Stars
Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

What is Céline Cassone's favorite thing to buy? Cowboy boots, to add to her growing collection. “I'm just crazy with boots," the Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal dancer says. “Always the same style, some short and some longer." It's also the one part of her outfit where you might find a pop of color, as most of her wardrobe is black and gray. She has boots in pink and purple, as well as more neutral shades of black, brown and white. “I'm looking for a nice red," she says. She tends to do most of her shopping when the company is on tour. BJM travels five or six months a year, and Cassone has been everywhere from New York City to Israel to Italy.

In the studio, she's never without her bright-green, peanut-shaped exercise ball, which she uses to work on her abdominals. “You can do Pilates exercises with that," she says. “It's super-light and it's always with me." She'll even use it as a pillow on the bus. Cassone favors long, loose layers and fun patterns in her dancewear—but she makes sure to keep her look practical, especially if she needs to dance on pointe. “For center, I want to see my legs and I want to see my feet," she says.

Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

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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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Summer Intensive Survival
Summer intensive students at the School of American Ballet. Photo by Rosalie O'Conner, Courtesy SAB.

As a young student, Shea McAdoo's classes at the Master Ballet Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, were “strict, straightforward, very classical and purely Vaganova." She appreciated the Russian rigor and precision, but when she was accepted to the School of American Ballet's summer course at 13, she leapt at the chance to learn something new. The vastly different emphasis on Balanchine technique at SAB was illuminating: “It changed my whole way of thinking about musicality and accents. I'd never known there were so many ways to do a tendu! And the épaulement—I loved how they talked about light hitting your face, tilting your chin to show off your diamond earring."

McAdoo's experience was transformative, even when she returned home. “Of course, I lowered my arms back down in second and didn't cross my wrists," she says, “but there were stylistic choices I brought back with me." Today, as an apprentice with Oregon Ballet Theatre rehearsing Balanchine's Serenade, she credits her ease with the ballet's fluid port de bras to her summer at SAB.

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Inside PT

It's okay to want to feel like a princess sometimes. Let shades of carnation and rose gold, and dustings of glitter, whisk you away to the pink fantasyland of your dreams.

Ballet Stars
Kyle Froman for Pointe

When it comes to style, James Whiteside likes to push the limits. “Conforming isn't really my thing," says the American Ballet Theatre principal. He chooses pieces that express his personality, while always leaving room to experiment with new ideas. “I haven't really married myself to one aesthetic, and that gives me a lot of options," he says. “One day I'll be preppy, next day I'll be super-urban, then I can be all tattered and '50s. I like to keep an open mind." In the studio, he sports knits and crop tops, and dyes his hair funky colors when the repertoire allows. It works well for ballets like The Sleeping Beauty (in which he wears a wig) or contemporary work. “But if I'm playing Romeo, this wouldn't make sense," he says. Whiteside is influenced by everything from Japanese anime to '90s boy bands to New York City itself, a place he's always wanted to live. “It's so inspiring walking around the city," he says. “Some people are just killing it. Anybody can buy fashion, but having style is a completely different thing."

Kyle From for Pointe

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Featured Article

Let shades of turquoise, amethyst, ruby and emerald add sparkle to your back-to-class fashion.

All photos by Nathan Sayers.

 

Ballet Stars
Erik Tomasson for Pointe.

Dores André doesn't like shopping, but she loves clothes. Her favorite source of style inspiration is the 1964 comedy What a Way to Go!, starring Shirley MacLaine and a closet of over-the-top costumes. “It's just crazy—she wears, like, thousands and thousands of outfits," André says. “I wish I owned every single piece in that movie." When it comes to her own personal style, “I'd say it's a little like Natalie Wood meets Pussy Riot," she says. Black is an easy go-to, but when she has time she puts together more eclectic, colorful ensembles, and she likes a bit of punk edge. In the studio, André dresses for the work she's rehearsing. “I don't like wearing pink tights in general, but if I'm doing a classical piece I'll wear them," she says. “Or if it's a little more contemporary, I'll wear shorts instead of a skirt." She looks for pieces that are flattering (long-sleeved leos are one favorite), while still allowing her to dance her best. “You have to look good, but also make it so you can look good dancing," she says.

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Ballet Stars
Kyle Froman

Hoop earrings are a trademark for Melissa Anduiza. "They remind me of my Cuban side," she says. The Complexions Contemporary Ballet dancer draws inspiration from the bright colors and warm climate of her Miami hometown, and her Cuban and Filipino heritage. "I have a white pantsuit that I rock every once in a while—I feel like I'm part of 'Miami Vice' or something," she says. "And I like that islandy feel in the summertime. Whenever I go home, I'm always in a romper or a sundress." Anduiza prefers a casual yet polished look and gets ideas from fashion icons like blogger Marianna Hewitt, whom she follows on social media. "I like to dress kind of edgy, but classy at the same time," she says. In the studio, the company's contemporary rep calls for pieces that show off her lines. "At Complexions, we always wear things that are fitted to the body. Just our warm-ups are loose," Anduiza says. She'll often balance basic shorts with an unusual top to add flair for class or rehearsal. "I dress to make myself look great," she says. "It's comfortable, but always a clean look."

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Inside PT

Shopping for your summer intensive shouldn't feel like a chore. We've gathered dance bag essentials, and classwear that's both stylish and functional, to help you get a head start on your preparations.

Ballet Stars
Kyle Froman for Pointe

Julie Marie Niekrasz doesn't shop often, but when she does, you won't find her at the mall. “I love vintage clothing," the Ballet Memphis dancer says. “I think I owe a lot of that to my older sister, who has a really fun sense of style." And her fondness for the past extends beyond clothing—she even owns a vintage KitchenAid mixer. Niekrasz favors local boutiques, where she looks for clean lines and elegant silhouettes from the 1950s and '60s, in a color palette of grays, blues and blacks. She brings the same aesthetic into the studio, though she's also conscious of her partners and the repertoire. When rehearsing a piece where she'll be bare-legged, “I'll try to wear shorts so that the guys have an easier transition period, so they can get the grip of my leg right," Niekrasz says. “If it's a pink-tights ballet like Nutcracker or Romeo & Juliet, then I'll be rehearsing in full ballet-pink wear." When she thinks of a style icon, the first person who comes to mind is Grace Kelly. “She's the epitome of classic," Niekrasz says. “I just love that old charm in clothes. In a way, I wish we all still dressed like that."

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Linda Johnson for Pointe

As a young student at San Francisco Ballet School, Kelsey Ivana Hellebuyck would record her outfit each day in a notebook. “I've always been kind of a nut about fashion," she says. “Getting dressed in the morning is fun. It gets me going, like coffee." And as followers of her popular Instagram account will tell you, she's still keeping track of what she wears, sharing daily collages of her outfits that reveal her fun and eclectic taste. “I started cataloguing it because I wanted to remember what I wore and what was so magical about that equation," she says, “but now other people are enjoying it, so that makes me happy." Some of the Pennsylvania Ballet corps dancer's best finds have come from flea markets or the hidden racks at the back of a store. “I know when something is good, and when I see it, I'll buy it," she says. Hellebuyck brings her personal style into the studio, too. “I love cutoff tights, bright colors, fun prints, lace—things that are different, not the norm," she says. Her keen eye for detail is inspired by everything from the style bloggers she follows on Instagram to the copies of Architectural Digest or W that she flips through on airplanes. “I'm passionate about fashion," she says. “It's second only to ballet."

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News

New York Fashion week is well and good, but the dance world awaits New York City Ballet's Fall Gala with equal anticipation. Each year, the company partners with couture designers to create elaborate, unexpected costumes for the handful of world premieres. Peter Copping, the creative director of Oscar de la Renta, has embarked on his first attempt at costume design rather than high fashion: He's redesigning the costumes for Peter Martins' Thou Swell.

Thou Swell premiered in 2003 and was last performed in 2013, and Coppings creations signify a major visual redesign for the piece. How's this green fringed dress for a contemporary tutu?

 

(Photo via Women's Wear Daily)

 

Copping is in good company—Thom Browne, Prabal Gurung, Carolina Herrera, Mary Katrantzou, Olivier Theyskens, Iris Van Herpen and Valentino have all designed for NYCB. As with all of the company's couture collaborations, I'm excited to see how the clothes work onstage. If the movement of that fringe is any indication, it should be glamorous indeed. Check out more costumes for Thou Swell here.

Ballet Stars
Amitava Sarkar for Pointe

Though she's lived in the U.S. for 14 years, Houston Ballet's Yuriko Kajiya still does most of her shopping at home in Japan. “It's always fun to go shopping with my mom," she says. “We're like girlfriends." When her busy rehearsal schedule prevents her from making a trip in person, she asks her mother to send clothes in the mail. Kajiya likes simple, sophisticated pieces that add height and length. “As a ballerina you're always trying to make your lines look longer," she says. “I think that translates to street fashion for me." In her rehearsal wear, she keeps her partners in mind. “I definitely think about what I have to rehearse that day and try to be considerate," she says. That means choosing leotards with cotton in them (they slip less), and functional styles. “Leotards with really low backs are very pretty, but I only wear them in class," she says—it's harder for a partner to have a firm hold on bare skin. Above all, she tries to keep her look original. “I want to be a little bit different," she says. “I think that's another reason I like to shop in Japan."

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Inside PT

Amar Ramasar (Photo by Kyle Froman)

Even on a gray, rainy day in New York City, Amar Ramasar looks polished and put-together. But when he shops, he likes to make it quick. “Once I see something, I’m like ‘Oh, maybe I don’t even have to try this on!’ ” he says. The exception? Suits, which he’ll often get tailored to ensure a perfect fit. “When the company went on tour to Hong Kong we found Baron Kay’s Tailor”—a China-based company that often sends representatives overseas. “Every time they come to the city I’ll try and catch them,” he says. In his studio wear, warmth takes priority. “It’s funny, I find myself wearing red in many ballets,” he says, “and coincidentally, I wear a lot of red in rehearsal.” For style inspiration, he looks to mentors like Jock Soto, Nikolaj Hübbe and Charles Askegard. “I’ve had the honor of growing up with all these great guys, and I’ve always admired the way they look,” he says. “I think everybody in ballet is very fashionable!”

The Details—Street

Blazer: “This is special, because I bought it in Rome when I was guesting with the Rome Opera Ballet. It reminds me of the amazing time I had.”

Zara shirt: “I like a button-up shirt because I can just throw it on, and it’s easy to run out the door.”

Zara scarf, pants and shoes: “I love that store. I think everything fits me very well, and it’s affordable.”

 

Photo by Kyle Froman

The Details—Studio

Red shirt: “This is a Christopher Wheeldon pass-on. I was wearing a big sweater for a rehearsal because I was doing laundry, so he took off his shirt and gave it to me to wear.”

Tights: “It’s important to have a great pair of tights, just to really see the lines.”

Capezio shoes: “I prefer a flesh-colored ballet slipper.” The cut of Ramasar’s slippers is customized.

 

Ballet Careers
Melody Mennite and Connor Walsh in Jiři Kylián's "Petite Mort." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

If you're a member of a repertory company, tight rehearsal timelines are often a fact of life. You might have only a few weeks to memorize and master a piece before you take the stage. In that time, you'll need to absorb not only the steps but also the choreographer's particular style—the qualities and quirks that set that choreographer apart. Should the movement be buoyant or grounded, fluid or staccato? Is your port de bras meant to be classical or pedestrian? How should you relate to your fellow dancers, and to the audience? Answering these questions will take your performance to the next level. After all, a ballet is so much more than the sum of its steps.

"The ballet isn't going to be the ballet without the choreographer's intention and style," says Sandra Jennings, a longtime répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust. "Balanchine had an intent in his choreography that affects how we move, from our musicality to the way we use our feet on the floor and how the man offers his hand to the woman in partnering. Those nuances matter."

Absorbing a ballet's style should be an integral part of the rehearsal process. But it's not always easy, especially if you've trained in a style that's completely different. Here, three dancers share how they adapted to stylistic challenges in their repertoire. Follow their lead the next time you're thrust out of your comfort zone.

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