Ballet Goes Couture
Valentino (left) and costume director Marc Happel working in the NYCB Costume Shop (Photos by Paul Kolnik)
The ballet and fashion worlds collide this month in NYC with a one-time-only gala
at Lincoln Center kicking off New York City Ballet’s fall season (which just happens to start one week after New York Fashion Week!). The gala is honoring legendary fashion designer Valentino Garavani, who will be transforming ballerinas into stunning fashionistas, creating costumes for four works—three by NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins and one by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.
Valentino has been working tirelessly to create these exquisite costumes since April, with the help of NYCB costume director Marc Happel. No stranger to the world of fashion, Happel has worked with several prominent designers who’ve created costumes for the company over the past year, including Gilles Mendel, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, and Stella McCartney. And he’s mastered the art of successfully bridging the gap between the catwalk and the stage. “Designers usually deal with models on the runway, but when dancers are onstage with the audience at least 50 feet away, everything changes,” Happel says. “I advise them to pay attention to the details that are really going to stand out.” He also helps the designers manage their schedules, so the costumes are completed with enough time to actually rehearse in them. “I’ve been to fashion shows where people are sitting backstage at sewing machines an hour before the show,” Happel says. “I’ve had to explain to each of the designers that we just don’t work that way.”
While working with each well-known designer over the past year has been a unique experience for Happel, collaborating with Valentino has been the cherry on top of this fashion sundae. “I’m completely in awe of Valentino,” he says. “He’s a legend, and he’s one of the last great couture designers. His designs are sumptuous and extravagant, and his choices are spot on.”
Valentino’s designs hit the stage at NYCB’s 2012 Fall Gala at Lincoln Center on
A Year in Costumes
According to the NYCB Dancers Who Wore Them
Tyler Angle and Tiler Peck in Benjamin Millepied’s Two Hearts, with costumes by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte
“The first day Kate and Laura Mulleavy came in, they were casually dressed and laid-back,” Tiler Peck says. “I said to another dancer, ‘I can’t believe they are so cool.’ They were very accommodating to what we needed. For my costume, they decided to lose the skirt at the end of the ballet, and just have a leotard. I loved it!”
Taylor Stanley and Claire Kretzschmar in Peter Martins’ Mes Oiseaux, with costumes by Gilles Mendel
“My mom, sister and I have always been interested in fashion, so hearing Gilles Mendel was making our costumes was a great surprise,” Claire Kretzschmar says. “He paid close attention to the littlest details, like the curves of the shapes on the bodice. My costume transformed me into a different, more sophisticated person.”
Sara Mearns and Robert Fairchild in Peter Martins’ Ocean’s Kingdom, with costumes by Stella McCartney
“The whole experience was surreal to me,” Sara Mearns says. “Since Stella McCartney didn’t know much about ballet, we started by showing her how fabrics move when you dance. The process of getting from there to the final costumes was difficult, but when it all came together, it really worked.”
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.