Ballet Stars

Why Multiple Shades of Lipstick Are a Must in Venus Villa's Dance Bag

Kyle Froman

When it comes to studio attire, The Washington Ballet's Venus Villa loves to have choices. While at home in Washington, DC, her bag usually overflows with skirts and warm-ups in all different colors. "I am more girly than sporty," she says of her style. She's also never without multiple lipsticks, and she selects the right shade to match her leotard each day. On tour in New York City for a Guggenheim Works & Process showing, Villa pared the contents of her dance bag down to the essentials: only one skirt, but still three lipsticks.


Villa grew up between Cuba and Italy and danced with companies in London, Rome and Vienna before joining TWB. Her camouflage-patterned dance bag is a souvenir from her travels; it was a gift from a gala that she performed at in Puglia, Italy. Every pocket of the roomy duffel holds a few black hair bands, which always make Villa think of her 4-year-old daughter, also named Venus—she uses them to put up her hair as well.

Kyle Froman

The Goods
Clockwise from top left: Camouflage dance bag, socks, ballet slippers, green pouch for hair accessories, black flowered bag to hold pointe shoe prep kit ("It was a present from a friend at TWB"), foot roller, scissors, dental floss for sewing pointe shoes, 2nd Skin Gel Squares for feet, Hypafix Tape for toes, assorted lipsticks, Airborne, oral pain reliever ("I apply it to my toenails when I have pain. It's an anesthetic"), Zim's Max Freeze Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Roll-On Formula, hair bands, Gaynor Minden custom pointe shoes with elastic ribbons ("I had really bad Achilles tendonitis, but once I started using elastic ribbons the pain went away. And they're great for quick changes!"), phone charger, iPhone, head- phones, Michael Kors down warm-up jacket, Sansha overall warm-ups.

Health & Body
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

In fall 2012, New York City Ballet associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, then a company principal, was taking morning class when her foot slid out from under her, causing her to pull the very top of what felt like her right hamstring muscle. "It shocked me from the inside out," she notes.

Whelan spent three months nursing her hamstring. But once she got back to performing, her right hip flexor began flaring up. "By the end of Nutcracker season, I could no longer bear standing in fifth position. I could not lift my right leg without severe pain," she says. "I couldn't imagine why or how this was suddenly becoming so debilitating." A sonogram revealed a complex labral tear in Whelan's hip.

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Courtesy Grishko ltd. (Moscow, Russia)

If you're one of the many American ballet dancers who loyally wear Grishko pointe shoes, you may have noticed something different about your shoes recently.

In the midst of a lawsuit, Grishko ltd. is now selling in the U.S. under the name Nikolay to reduce confusion and ensure that American dancers get the high-quality shoes they've come to expect.

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Ballet Stars

Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo both took The Royal Ballet by storm when they arrived at the company in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Virtuosic, enigmatic performers, the two forged a storied partnership over the course of their next decade together at The Royal. Now they've both gone on to lead the next generation of ballet dancers in England: Rojo has been the artistic director of English National Ballet since 2012, and Acosta will take the helm of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January. With this 2007 clip of their balcony scene from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, it's easy to see why they are already the stuff of ballet legend.

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Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

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