Dancewear en l’air: Boxy Cropped Cover-Up

productcojocaru13I think this is the first time I’ve posted two similar articles in a row… but I’ve waited too long to show you Cloud & Victory! I’m so in love with their spring/summer 2014 collection I could bust – Do yourself a favor and check out all their shirts and skirts, as seen on such inimitable luminaries as Joy Womack of American at the Bolshoi fame.

I’ve chosen their Cojocaru cropped cover-up because it absolutely embodies the effortless style of dancers. It’s made of soft Tencel to slide over your skin luxuriously, and this version’s print is inspired by gorgeous Alina Cojocaru to give you your day’s inspiration.

Have a dress code that requires coverups between classes? This is the perfect solution to stay breezy cool after a long sweaty class. This top would look completely fabulous over a tank or camisole leotard for the wide neck to show off your beautiful shoulders. Add one of their lovely lace skirts and voilà, you have an ensemble fit for a dancer of the Paris Opera. I would even throw this on for coffee or shopping. So chic!

 

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Ballet Shoe Review: Body Wrappers A45 “Wendy”

Dancers are always looking for a reliable ballet shoes that will show clean lines and provides optimum comfort. The Body Wrappers A45 Wendy is a good start and tries to incorporate a lot of good new ideas, but overall it missed the mark for me.

The last, constructed of what they called TotalStretch canvas, was not as supple and comfortable to me as I had hoped but instead seemed just average. Which is fine, but I’m not sure why they marketed it as special. They say that it “supports and protects muscles.” While they did line it with a thin foam, I wish they provided info on what they are basing that claim on. They also claim to be antibacterial, which I do really like and I’m guessing was achieved by incoporating a chemical treatment to the fabric.

The last is curved for a right and left fit. The peachy pink color matched BW’s theatrical pink tights pretty well. It’s a prettier color than a lot of other brands have created. I liked how that extended the line, but they were still too light a pink to keep from looking gray after a few classes got them dirty.

I found the elastic drawstring to be a bit too thin, made thinner by its own stretchiness. I am not a fan of elastic drawstrings because they never seem strong enough to actually do anything. (Not that I love cotton either, considering that they offer almost no give – can’t we have a happy medium?) The problem was the same here. I did like the “lingerie elastic” binding and found that part really soft and pretty – it has a hint of shimmer to it. It did get a little fuzzy and frayed in the course of normal use.

My main gripe with these shoes had nothing to do with these superficial issues though and everything to do with the foam-padded heel. I love a shoe that incorporates impact absorption, but this heel pad was a huge impediment to proper fit of the shoe. It seems that BW did not calculate properly for the additional fabric at the heel that would be needed to include the heel pad, so the heel sat about an eighth of an inch below where is should – perfectly placed to irritate the Achilles tendons as much as possible and cause the shoe to come off the heel during jumps. This is just a terrible construction issue. What are the two main things a shoe must do? Stay on the foot and allow proper movement. Because of the poorly thought-out construction of this shoe, it could do neither. Tightening the drawstring only worsened the irritation and loosening the drawstring at all meant the shoe would pop off even more easily. Ironically, the packaging instructs that the shoes fit so well that most dancers won’t even need elastics.

All of this said, if you are a dancer who needs a lower heel – and I know there are plenty of you out there! – this might be the ideal shoe for you. Body Wrappers certainly had some great ideas, and I look forward to checking out their next try. I will continue to post reviews of the many shoes I have worn. Have you tried the Body Wrappers A45 Wendy shoe? What did you think?

Dancewear en l’air: The Sleek Samurai Leotard

In the immortal words of Miss Piggy, “Hiya!” Yes, whether sheerly for clever marketing or from genuine inspiration, Bloch has created what they call the Samurai leotard, model L2042. But a cool name is not the only thing to like about this ensemble.

Constructed from a “microlux” blend,  the smooth surface is shaped into a curvy silhouette with wide-set and very short cap sleeves. A perfectly placed U back finishes the cut, mimicked by an open metal ring set into the left side of the wide neckline. Placement of the ring creates subtle ruching and a modern, slashed V-neck.

Available in red, black and two pastels, I’d opt for red or black to support the edgy feel of this leo. I’d pair that with black footless tights and a high bun for a look that says… HIYA!

Ballet in Print: The Dancer’s Book of Ballet Crafts

Summer is here! And with it long days of sleeping in, outdoor activities and barbecues – at least until summer dance classes begin. What better way to entertain yourself whether hanging out at home or in the dorms at an SI than with a packed book of ballet-specific crafts. The Dancer’s Book of Ballet Crafts: Dancewear, Accessories and Keepsakes is a lovely book including upwards of 30 projects for budding ballerinas to enjoy. (Click the link above and view the table of contents for the full list of projects.)

Projects in this book are cleverly divided by dance use, like warm-up, rehearsal and performance. Famed dance photographer Rosalie O’Conner lends her expertise to photos of student models from Stanford Ballet, School of American Ballet and Manhattan Youth Ballet that pose with the craft creations. Inspiring ballet facts and quotes accentuate the pages.

From ballet warm-ups to tiaras, this book contains not only step-by-step instructions for a range of projects from beginner to advanced, but also space for scrapbooking and journaling, making it the perfect place to entertain yourself, get inspired and keep track of your summer ballet adventure all in one place!

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As always, thanks for reading!!

Dancewear en l’air: The Thumb-Loops Shrug

Shrugs were all the rage when I was a young dancer, but they gave way to off-the-shoulder, retro sweaters and modern, zip-front fleece jackets in the years that followed. Thanks to Black Swan, shrugs are back!

I’ve always loved shrugs because they offer warmth without covering up your pretty leotard. I posted on the Lydia shrug by Bloch some time ago. Mirella’s black shrug style M1105 is slightly looser in the arms for increased ease of movement and a more casual look. This warm-up also features thumbholes at the wrists for security no matter your port de bras. The long arms are great for a slight bunching. Get cozied up by pairing this piece with similarly bunchy legwarmers.

The Right Leo Size, Every Time!

As much fun as dancewear shopping can be, it can also be frustrating. There is a surprising amount of variation across brands. Pulling a bunch of leos on and off to see what flatters is trouble enough without the added complication of figuring out how the different brands are designed to fit.

As a dancer with a long torso, I found that taking my measurements and doing a little research on size schemes (and I have done that work for you as you’ll see!) took the hassle right out of dancewear shopping.

When it comes to leotard fit, you will need at least four basic measurements: bust, waist, hips and girth. To measure the first three, align a soft measuring tape parallel to the floor and wrapped snugly – but not too tightly – around the fullest level of your bust, the slimmest portion of your waist, and your hips at the hip bone level.* Wear the least bulky top and bottom possible (but nothing so tight it will change your natural size) and make sure you are standing in proper ballet posture with shoulders down and a square alignment for the truest measurements possible. Use a mirror to make sure the tape is wrapped properly for each measure.

Now for the research – which as I mentioned I have done for you! I have created a chart of all the major manufacturers’ ladies’ sizing guidelines for all brands that use a S/M/L sizing structure. (So no Sansha or Grishko, sorry!) You can download it by clicking here: BalletScoop Adult Ladies Sizing Guide. Once you have your measurements taken and written out, you can easily compare them to the chart and circle what size in each brand will suit you best. Voilà – sizing guesswork gone!!

*For pants, shorts and unitards, the hips will often need to be measured at their absolute fullest circumference, usually an inch or two below the hip bones. The waist measurement for pants should be taken at the level where the waist of the pants are expected to hit – that’s usually an inch or two below your actual waist.

Update: If you had trouble printing this size guide earlier, sorry! It is now on letter-sized paper, so should be easy printing now!