Lucy Vallely (left) and Taja Riley in a still from the United Nude campaign (photo by Franz Steiner, courtesy United Nude)

Here's How Taja Riley and Lucy Vallely Ended Up Working Together—On a Non-Dance Project

Dance Spirit cover stars come from all over the dance world—and no two cover stars are quite alike. So when we heard that Taja Riley and Lucy Vallely, both recent DS cover stars (and general icons), were collaborating on something, we got excited. And when we heard that the something wasn't dance related? We got curious.

ICYMI, Taja and Lucy are working with United Nude to promote a whole new series of shoes—and we're more than a little obsessed with the dancy (and absolutely gorgeous) promotional video that they collaborated on. Read to find out how Taja and Lucy came together on this campaign, and don't forget to enter to win your very own pair of United Nude shoes!


Dance Spirit: How did you each get involved with United Nude?

Taja Riley: I had always been a fan of United Nude shoes, and I first started working with them on a personal project for Kim TV. I pitched them on my project, and after our agreement about that, Rem, who's the head shoe designer, asked me if I wanted to be an ambassador for his line. I was like, "Duh!" And from there, I got involved in their ambassador photo shoot, which is what Lucy and I worked together on.

I was actually originally supposed to work with a different artist, but when that fell through, I started thinking of possibilities, of people that I wanted to work with, which is a long-winded way of saying that's how Lucy became a part of this project.

Lucy Vallely: Taja and I first met officially during a Break the Floor Live event, when we both assisted for Travis Wall's class back in April. And honestly, right when we first met each other, there was a sense that we were destined to work together more in the future. So when she reached out to me, there was no hesitation on my part. And once I started looking into United Nude's shoes, it was like a double whammy—like, "I get to work with Taja Riley and be a part of this company and model and dance in such unique shoes?" It was such an exciting opportunity of growth for me.

DS: And what was it like, working together?

TR: I think that creative collaboration is always about complementing through the contrast. We played on each other's strengths just as much as we strengthened each other's weaknesses.

LV: I think the contrast between us is beautiful, because we are honestly pretty different in our dancing. It's like yin and yang—you need the two to create that beautiful harmony. I felt that harmony, working with Taja, and we were really able to celebrate what we could share with one another.

DS: What was it like for you working on a project outside of the dance world?

LV: I think naturally, it takes away any limits you might put on yourself. As a dancer, working on a dance project, you think you have to meet a certain criteria. But being outside of the confines of the dance world, or a dance project, it really opened my mind.

TR: I couldn't agree more. This project definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I've modeled dancewear before, but when you're wearing dancewear, you know your audience. You're modeling for ballerinas, for tappers, for jazz dancers. But these weren't dance shoes. I mean, I wasn't even sure initially that I'd be able to dance in them—and that definitely put me out of my comfort zone.

DS: Do you think other dancers should venture into non-dance projects like this one?

LV: I think it's so important for dancers to venture out. I think dancers love to cling on to labels, but it's nice to let go of those labels sometimes, and see how that opens up your possibilities. You start to see how dance can correlate and intermix with modeling, acting, storytelling, promotion—whatever it is—and how dance can complement all of those different art forms.

DS: What was your favorite part of this experience?

LV: Working with Taja! [Laughs] But seriously, that's the best part of projects and jobs. The job itself is incredible, but it's the people you meet through it—those memories and experiences. Now I can move forward knowing that I have a new friend in Taja, and that's beautiful.

TR: Working with Lucy, of course! Sometimes when you're doing projects like these, you're getting a little peek into the future, and you can feel like you're a little closer to achieving your dreams. I was able to do that alongside Lucy, and I'm so grateful for that.

DS: Where have you been wearing your United Nude shoes so far?

TR: I've been wearing my United Nude Shoes to outdoor dining at restaurants, I've been running errands in them, I've been taking lots of classes in them—they're so comfortable. Especially the Space Kickers, the shoe's we're giving away. They're so comfortable, and they have a little lift in the back, so you're basically wearing heels…without wearing heels.

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