In 2014 Teen Vogue came out with one of our favorite dance series yet: "Strictly Ballet." From NYC's School of American Ballet to Florida's Miami City Ballet School, we got to follow dance students through the rigorous, glamorous, and sometimes intense ups and downs that are the norm for most serious ballet students. Though the reality web series only lasted two seasons, we love the intimate look it gave into the ballet world and the students whose lives it followed. We loved it so much that by the end of each season we were almost as invested in those dancers' careers as they were.
Now, four years later, we're dying to know what some of our favorite dancers from the series are up to. Keep reading to find out where the blood, sweat, and blisters have gotten them.
Breaking news, bunheads! Sportswear company PUMA just announced they're teaming up with New York City Ballet as the company's official activewear partner. PUMA has made it a goal to gain some ground in the women's training category, as well as in arts and culture, so this partnership definitely makes sense for them. And we're loving it for NYCB as well. Why? Let us count the ways.
Olivia Boisson, Savannah Lowery, Mimi Staker, Meagan Mann and Unity Phelan, PUMA x NYCB. (Photo by Erin Baiano)
The partnership is giving major credit to hard-working ballerinas everywhere.
We adore the way that PUMA is praising the athleticism of ballet, and the effort that ballerinas put toward their craft each and every day. In the age old "Is dance a sport?" debate, it looks like PUMA is team "dance is definitely a sport," calling the NYCB ladies some of the most "talented athletes in the world." Also in the campaign, PUMA states that the dancers "are true athletes who train, rehearse and perform up to 12 hours a day." Yes, yes and yes. We dance nerds have always known how much hard work goes into ballet, but it's nice to get a little recognition once in a while.
Unity Phelan and Meagan Mann, PUMA x NYCB. (Photo by Erin Baiano)
2. More athletic wear for dancers, yay!
As part of the partnership, PUMA is providing rehearsal clothes for NYCB's dancers. But the really cool thing is that the dancers will be able to provide feedback to PUMA after trying their products. (What they liked, what they'd change, what works for dancers and what just doesn't.) Long-term, we're thinking this will lead to even more athletic wear pieces designed with dance in mind, both for in-studio rehearsals and for cross-training purposes outside of the studio.
Mimi Staker, PUMA x NYCB. (Photo by Erin Baiano)
3. We'll get to see beautiful ballet dancers in advertisements across the country.
We love a good dance-themed ad. (Okay we'll admit, we're still trying to forget about this one. But when done right and cast with pro dancers, like this one and this one, we can't get enough.) As part of this new partnership, PUMA is going to feature NYCB dancers in their marketing campaigns (aka in print and digital ads). The first batch includes Savannah Lowery, Olivia Boisson, Meagan Mann, Unity Phelan and Mimi Staker posed in a rehearsal-like setting. The pictures feel super real and relatable, just like a bunch of girls hanging out before ballet class (except, well, they're NYCB girls). Look for the ads starting in October of this year.
Olivia Boisson, Unity Phelan, Meagan Mann, Mimi Staker and Savannah Lowery, PUMA x NYCB. (Photo by Erin Baiano)
There's been a pointe shoe-sized hole in our hearts ever since the first season of Teen Vogue's "Strictly Ballet" wrapped up last spring. The web series, which went inside the prestigious School of American Ballet, did such a beautiful job depicting the pressures and joys of life as an aspiring professional dancer. It showed us a familiar world in an eye-opening way. (And obviously we love a good dance-y web series.)
Dancers from the first season of "Strictly Ballet" (via teenvogue.com)
Well friends, get your popcorn ready, because "Strictly Ballet" Season 2 is officially a thing! The next installment of the series, which premieres May 20, will follow talented students at Miami City Ballet School. It's an interesting tack to take, because SAB and MCBS actually share a connection: They both come from the same Balanchine tradition. But NYC has significantly fewer beaches than Miami, and oh my gosh we can't WAIT for the dancing-on-the-beach montages that are inevitably headed our way.
To tide us crazy fans over until May 20, Teen Vogue put together a little video featurette on Mimi Staker, one of the gorgeous stars of the first season. Staker's now a full-fledged member of New York City Ballet, and the vid gives us a peek at what her professional life looks like. It also concludes with some pretty enticing sneak-preview Season 2 footage of MCBS students (including dance-y beach shots, yippee!). Take a look: