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.”
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
Principal Lloyd Knight has become a true standout in the Martha Graham Dance Company thanks to his compelling presence and dynamic technique. Knight, who performs leading roles in iconic pieces like Appalachian Spring and Embattled Garden, was born in England and raised in Miami, where he trained at the Miami Conservatory and later graduated from New World School of the Arts. He received scholarships to The Ailey School and The Dance Theatre of Harlem School in NYC and joined MGDC in 2005. Catch him onstage with MGDC during its New York City Center season this month. —Courtney Bowers
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:
You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.
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'm a hip-hop and jazz dancer, and I want to get involved in the commercial-dance world. I've never studied ballet, but people keep telling me I "have to" take ballet classes if I want to make it professionally. Is that really true? My family has limited money for dance classes, and I have to be careful about how I spend it.
Everyone loves a good viral video, especially when there's dancing involved. And though many viral videos are contrived and created for the soul purpose of instafame, the story behind the latest video catching the eyes of millions—including Rihanna, super model Naomi Campbell, and Diddy—is even more unique because it features children who don't even know who those celebrities are.
A dance troupe in Nigeria has become the next internet sensation, thanks to their exuberant dancing and passion with which they perform. Their enthusiasm for dance is evident in every step and it's hard not to smile as you see these children (who range from ages 6 to 15) express pure joy in something as simple as dance. These nine kids are part of The Dream Catchers, an organization started by 26-year-old Seyi Oluyole, that gives impoverished children a place to live while teaching them how to dance.
For 16-year-old Amanda*, dance is everything: her passion, her escape from the daily grind, and her career goal. Her parents see things differently. "I have siblings who are active in sports," Amanda says, "and my parents would rather I play soccer or basketball. They don't see dance as something I can earn a stable living from in the future. They often tell me I should just quit."
Some parents aren't able to, don't know how to, or choose not to give you the kind of support you need to thrive in the studio. And when your parents are adding stress to your life, rather than alleviating it, there's a lot at stake. "Dancers who don't have the support of their parents might struggle with self-doubt," says Dr. Linda Hamilton, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a clinical psychologist specializing in the performing arts, "while those whose parents are too involved can crack under the pressure." Whether your parents aren't there when you need them or they're always there, practically smothering you, try these tips to improve your situation.
On Friday night, the iconic RuPaul made history as the first drag queen ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And it didn't take long for the world's most fabulous RuPaul fan/one of our favorite human beings, Mark Kanemura, to commemorate his idol's accomplishment with—naturally—a WALK to end all walks.