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peace ornament on tree

peace ornament on tree

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

Peace and joy go hand and hand. We wish you both as you continue through this holiday season. Today on our blog, we offer the gift of perspective from an extraordinary and beloved leader in the dance world.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

The Other Side of Nutcracker

by Sarah Wroth

At the Jacobs School of Music, where I am in my third year as a chair, artistic coordinator and member of the artistic staff, we have just wrapped up our weekend-long Nutcracker season. I have always loved Nutcracker. It has been a huge part of my holiday life, every year, for thirty years now. There are so many elements to the practice, rehearsal, story and atmosphere of this ballet that give me warm feelings of gratitude for the glorious joy my art can create. Now positioned on the directing side of things, my eyes are also open to all kinds of nuances that enrich my appreciation for the magic of Nutcracker.

Nutcracker offers a growth chart to its dancers. This ballet visits annually for most, and with its unchanging shape, it allows artists to stand as tall as they can to see if they have grown since the previous years’ experience. In lives built from artistic opportunities, the “who does what” each year is significant. As a dancer, I constantly felt the weight of casting in my life. As a leader, I feel not only its weight, but also the importance balancing that weight throughout the group.

Leading with understanding

Here at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, it is not a dictatorship. Our faculty tends to cast by committee and our process aims to hear everyone’s voice. It is not a perfect system. There is no perfect system, and there will always be someone who feels shortchanged. In my work, I try at all times to remember my experiences as a dancer. When casting goes up, I keep my door open. Anyone seeking to better understand casting or its process has the opportunity to connect. Sometimes expressed feelings are warranted and a learning experience or application for a bigger push is granted. Sometimes, casting sparks a difficult conversation about how certain levels of studio work or personal dedication are being perceived. Casting is a giant web of learning that has huge potential for positive reinforcement of work well done.

Sharing with appreciation

My life as an artistic leader has also helped me understand the many layers of human resources involved in making the Nutcracker story a success. As a dancer, it is so challenging to lay your heart on the stage for an audience forty times in a row, but at least there is a bow at the end of each show. In these concluding moments, the performing artists are celebrated and receive joyful appreciation from the audience. As an artistic leader, I also get to FEEL these joyful reactions floating around the packed houses for Nutcracker. I get to swim in the sentiments being created. This opportunity grants me an even greater understanding of what ballet is capable of and shows me the magnificent reactions good dance can create.

But, there are so many silent heroes behind the magic and hard work visible onstage. From wardrobe staff to parent volunteers, there are countless people working on the inside of the Nutcracker machine, often working a good distance away from the joy they are creating first hand. Every successful Nutcracker performance is a collective, coordinated effort. There is certainly enough applause to go around; we simply have to remember to share appreciation with those working beyond the stage and wings.

Refueling with inspiration

Whether you are an artist or artistic staff, if you are ever in need of inspiration during the Nutcracker, you only have to lower your gaze a bit and clamp eyes with an excited child. Children – both performing and attending – are everywhere in this show, so thirsty for all the magic it brings. The children onstage are bubbling with the excitement born from the responsibility of performing and joy of interacting with their heroes – dancers older and wiser than they are. The children in the audience also bubble with excitement, ready to experience the enduring magic of Nutcracker.

Whether you are old or young, just starting your ballet career or well on the other side of physicality, this ballet creates lasting memories and sensational experiences for all involved. Long live Nutcracker and its ability to bring new ballet understanding to ALL of us.

two dancers holding hands at cheek

two dancers standing side by side holding hands at cheek

Credit: Brooke Trisolini for Cirio Collective

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

We love the spirit of Giving Tuesday but also know that deep work and real change require sustainable support. In turn, we are excited to launch our new GIVE and RECEIVE project. You are invited to join us in giving – and to also enjoy receiving – all season long. Together, let’s increase access to dance and support the making of a creative, kind and sustainable world.

GIVE and RECEIVE Project

DATES: 12/3/19 – 1/3/20.

GIVE PHASE: You give to a nonprofit.

Any nonprofit or organization that supports the arts, the environment or social causes you believe in counts. Choose your favorite or find a new one below!

Make a minimum donation of $10 to qualify for the program.

Forward us your donation receipt at hello@jaideedancewear.com with subject GIVE and RECEIVE*

RECEIVE PHASE: You receive a Jai-Dee Gift Card.

Once we receive and review your donation receipt, we will issue you a gift card via email.

Your gift card amount will MATCH your donation amount up to $50!

Use your gift card to shop jaideedancewear.com before our campaign ends 1/3/20.

*There are countless ways to give beyond money. This season, if you give with time, mentorship or any form of activism you find meaningful, share it with us at hello@jaideedancewear.com to qualify for this project. By giving other people access to your resources, we are giving more access to ours.

Below are just a few organizations serving art, earth and citizenry to consider supporting.

National Support

CTZNWELL: a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization creating content and community where wellness and justice meet.

American Civil Liberties Union: realizing the promise of the Bill of Rights for all and expanding the reach of its guarantees to new areas.

One Tree Planted:: a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation.

Farmer’s Footprint:: a coalition of farmers, educators, doctors, scientists, and business leaders offering a sustainable path forward through regenerative agriculture.

Americans for the Arts: the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.

The Actors Fund: a national human services organization serving artists and performers.

Project Plie: in partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America, Project Plie introduces ballet to a broad array of children across the United States.

Arts in the Armed Forces: uses the powerful shared experience of the arts to start conversations between military and civilian life.

Black Iris Project: a premier ballet collaborative that champions new Black-centric works and arts education.

Neighborhood Support

Cirio Collective

Abilities Dance Boston

Ballet Sun Valley

Seattle Dance Collective

Co-Lab Dance

…and so many more! Explore your own local and national causes that feel meaningful for YOU and join us in giving and receiving this season.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

close up of dancer holding scarf in hands

close up of dancer holding scarf in hands

Credit: Corina Gill photographed by Katie Salerno

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

Here we are, already moving into the 2019 holiday season. This year, my intention is to remember that we are the makers of these holidays. We create the rituals and traditions, the gifts and gatherings, the lists and expectations. We create all of it, and yet we forget we can recreate it all too.

Perhaps this year we let the spirit of the season honor our imperfect lives and hearts as they are in this moment. Maybe we bring more gentleness into the mix. Whether current life is cheerful, utterly challenging, or a tangled web of both, gentleness can help hold it. As you create your own version of the holidays this year, here are a few gentle gift ideas to consider along the way.

Fire Leaf Extracts

close up of pointe shoes and Fire Leaf Pile Cream

Credit: Skye Schmidt for Fire Leaf Extracts

I first heard about Fire Leaf Extracts on the Ballet to Business podcast. This dancer-founded company makes a thoughtful line of wellness products for active bodies seeking balance. I love the educational work they are doing around CBD, their 1% for the planet partnership and how they are supporting community with their ambassador program. Gifting the CBD Plie Relief Cream and CBD Restore Drops to yourself or other active people in your life is a wonderfully unique way to encourage ease throughout the season.

Coming up for Black Friday, Fire Leaf Extracts is offering our readers 25% off any purchase of $70 or more, plus free shipping. Use FIRE25 at checkout.

Ballerina Project Book

pages of Ballerina Book Project

Credit: Ballerina Project Book

The Ballerina Project Book is a stunning celebration of dance and dancers. It is a gentle, powerful reminder that there is so much beauty in the world. Gift this book to yourself, to other dancers or perhaps to someone who may not have access to live art or know much about dance at all. Gift one to a lobby or waiting room you frequent and witness the gentleness it inspires in that space.

We have TWO of these beautiful books to share with our community. Follow along with us on Instagram and reshare one of our posts on your own page for a chance to receive one of these lovely books.

Jai-Dee and Friends

three dancers smiling together

Credit: Katie Salerno for Jai-Dee Dancewear

Now through 12/2/19, you can purchase and gift Jai-Dee leotards with $50 off using shop code FALLACCESS. It’s a price that’s gentler on your wallet, and it’s dancewear that’s gentler on the earth. If you are looking to add a bit of fun to this gift, fellow ECONYL® brand Swedish Stockings has an amazing line of colored and patterned tights. Skip the holiday packaging all together and wrap your finds right into a Guppyfriend® bag (a perfect present on its own) for a holiday gift that is both gentle and generous.

For apparel gifts beyond leotards and tights, I am currently loving everything from Left Edit – a sustainable brand that proves we can be gentle with the earth AND bold with design. My favorite piece is The Vera and I adore the creative ways it can be styled and layered.

Sleep Support

Blanket and Eye Pillow

Credit: Bearaby and Collective Hand

Especially on performance nights, a sleep-friendly environment and quiet evening rituals are critical for transitioning towards regenerative sleep. To help downregulate energy, we love the weighted eye pillows and face masks from Collective Hand in our home. Everything at this textile design studio in Brooklyn is created consciously and their silky, naturally dyed fabrics are not only soothing on the face but also beautiful on the nightstand. The masks create a cozy cocoon of darkness and the gentle weight induces full body relaxation.

A weighted blanket is another essential companion for restless bodies and anxious minds. Many weighted blankets have plastic beads in them but Bearaby makes blankets and duvets with sustainable fabrics and no fillers. The chunky-knit blankets from Kanthae Bae are also lovely and offer some natural weight. These two companies offer beautiful options to gift oneself and loved ones.

Climate Credits

climate credits

Credit: Reformation

Make your holiday travels and to-dos gentler on the planet by purchasing climate credits with Reformation. Climate credit purchases at Reformation help invest in clean energy and support carbon-reducing projects in partnership with NativeEnergy. Purchasing climate credits are an easy way to soften our collective “holiday impact” on the environment. Also, they also make a thoughtful, meaningful gift for the conscious travelers in your life.

You can discover additional gentle gift ideas and guides HERE and at The Good Trade.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

back of dancer standing with wheelchair in front of mirror with one arm lifted gazed shift up

back of dancer standing with wheelchair in front of mirror with one arm lifted gazed shift up

Credit: Abilities Dance Boston

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

Through ballet, many of us find permission to be wholly ourselves. Yet we also discover expectations and barriers in ballet that deny that very wholeness. By striving to embody various artform “ideals” at all costs, I myself have been complicit in upholding these barriers. Such striving harmed my body and limited my dance career, yes, but it’s the wider impact of such conformity that matters. As a white, small, able-bodied, cisgendered female, I often failed to use points of privilege to help “disrupt antiquated ableist beliefs and disseminate the value of inclusion through dance.”

Each of us decide what dance is, who it is for and why it is beautiful. Collectively, I believe we can bring far more belonging into dance. Instead of simply striving to squeeze ourselves into the shape of a dancer, perhaps we strive to reshape dance itself.

Today’s guest, Ellice Patterson of Abilities Dance Boston, is doing just that. You can join the movement by supporting their work HERE.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Perspective on…

by Ellice Patterson

harmful norms

Most don’t realize there are harmful aspects of this art form that narrowly define what it means to be a professional dancer. Once we start having conversations at the director level and widening that narrow range to allow for diverse talent to flow through the space, we will be well on our way to a more equitable industry.

body ownership

Dancers can take ownership of their bodies and their stories by first being true to their bodies’ range of motion through open communication with their choreographers. If a choreographer imposes some big movement that they might not be able to safely execute, they must let the choreographer know. It will look better to modify, keep the dancer safe and support a longer career.

empowering oneself

I believe to empower oneself in the dance world is to constantly take class and work on technique, strengthening and conditioning the body. Harmful body image, pressure to go beyond limits and the impulse to mask true identities all fade away when honing one’s craft and not just striving to be “the best.” We can empower ourselves by focusing on what really matters – technique, emotional connection to the piece and the audience, strengthening connection with your partner, and more.

creating inclusive community

I wish community members would ask, “Who do we think of when we think of disability? What does it mean to be a working dancer? Who does that look like? How can we value diverse identities without falling into stereotypes?”

We begin with dance educators welcoming diverse identities and bodies to grow in the studio. This means  making sure rehearsal spaces are accessible. We modify technique and expand the definition of certain movements. We teach both the traditional female and male form of ballet in class. By allowing the safe expression and development of dancers, the next generation of dancers (and next generation in general) feel better represented.

leadership

Dance leaders should think about who is dancing and choreographing in their companies. A strong company has different ethnicities, genders, disabilities and life experiences in their dancers and choreographers. Choreographers should be allowed to tell stories that are authentic to them and their experience. Same sex love stories, racism, current political events that resonate with their identities, and more, should be told (editor note here: one stunning example of this in action is James Whiteside’s New American Romance)

Within my company, there is a basic framework that choreographers follow for different access points within our show. Outside of that, my only requirement is strong story-telling and that dancers are dancing at their fullest capacity (which looks very different yet still beautiful dancer to dancer).

I think there is a small growing movement of small companies and independent choreographers working to express different racial, gender, and sexuality identities in their dancers and pieces they create. There are still not a lot of companies outside of ours working to train and promote professional disabled dancers within other companies. For that, there needs to be a new framework of entry into companies that takes into account the whole dancer instead of relying on a narrow set of audition protocols.

collective support

Having to constantly prove why my body matters on stage and in leadership has taken a toil. I’m just now starting to put myself first. I put on loud early ’00s R&B and dance around in my bedroom. I make sure my body is nourished with good food. Talking with my community helps me regain strength and keep fighting.

You can support our efforts by following the work we’re doing at our website and through social media @abilitiesdanceboston. We welcome any questions on what we do, how to be a respectful audience and ways to consume the work. We’re always happy to promote inclusion with our community!

two women dancers discussing access in art sitting against white curtain

two women dancers discussing access sitting together against a white curtain

Credit: Brooke Trisolini for Cirio Collective

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

While studying to become a yoga teacher back in 2006, I learned to organize ideas into themes. Using themes to pair postures and build sequences taught me to create structure and clarity while also encouraging creative inquiry. Today, themes continue to provide a backbone for conditioning classes I teach in Boston. Whether or not I explicitly announce these themes, they shape the direction and energy of every sequence I teach.

In all kinds of contexts, themes help us filter ideas, establish commitment and invite curiosity. At times, it makes sense to actively create themes to work with. Most of the time though, themes surface on their own. These themes appear in work, life and love, pushing us to engage with issues that matter to us and others.

Theme: Access

It feels natural – inevitable even – that themes emerge to guide the topics of choice on our blog. At the start of 2019, identity became one such theme. Over a stretch of months, we explored the ever-changing shape of identity with a retired dancer. We celebrated intersectional identity with a rising star.  Then, we challenged what creates ideal dance space with Luminous Architecture, and we reimagined the identity of dance itself with Fjord Review. Identity is a subject with permanent residency at Jai-Dee and now, identity has given rise to a companion theme  – access.

Who has access to the world of dance?

…to arts education?

…live performances?

…creative opportunities?

Who has access to the world of sustainability?

…to education about the environment?

…sustainable clothing?

…supportive communities?

Diving into themes awakens a sense of possibility. At the same time, staying present with such themes requires us to be disciplined with our attention. Less skimming. More digging. For the next several months, we will explore access as it relates to identity, dance and sustainability. As we move in this direction, we appreciate you moving with us.

Looking Ahead

Guest Post: Next week, Ellice Patterson of Abilities Dance Boston shares her wisdom and challenges each of us to help build more accessible, inclusive dance.

Beyond Black Friday: Also rolling out next week is an ethical, low stress version of a Black Friday Sale. This will be month long offer to increase your access to our sustainable dancewear. No Black Friday madness required!

Giving Tuesday  Season: We think generosity deserves more than one day. Therefore, we’ve created an exciting Give and Receive project that will run from 12/3/19 – 1/3/20. You give to a nonprofit. You receive Jai-Dee credit. More details coming soon! In the meantime, if you want us to promote your favorite arts organization or nonprofit in this upcoming campaign, just let us know.

Be sure to be on our email list to access these holiday updates and offerings.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

PS. Did you catch us featured on The Daily Good? If you don’t already subscribe to this goodness, this is truly the other email list you want to be on.

Ballet to Business Logo

Ballet to Business Logo

Credit: Ballet to Business

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

“What is one enduring gift or lesson from dance that has served your life beyond the stage?”

This beautiful question is one Jordan Nicoleh asks all her guests as the host of the Ballet to Business podcast. As a recent guest already familiar with her show, I was prepared for this inquiry to surface. When Jordan unfolded the question towards the end of our conversation though, it caused me an unexpected pause. It wasn’t the question itself that caught me off guard; it was the surprising flavor of gratitude that rolled in behind it. While my appreciation for dance is always within reach, it’s rare for that appreciation to be as unburdened and clear as it was in that moment. Reflecting on the flow of the interview, I now understand how that clarity was cultivated.

Space for wholeness

A history with ballet can be complex. Jordan’s podcast holds space to explore such complexity, allowing more complete stories of dance and of dancers to emerge. Personal stories about ballet and business explored on the show are collectively creating community stories. These stories touch on our shared strengths, our common forms of suffering and our ability to make meaning out of all kinds of experiences with dance. As both a listener and a guest of the show, this podcast feels honest, insightful and even therapeutic.

Timing the takeaways

By the time Jordan invited me to consider a positive takeaway from my time as a dancer, we had already given voice to some of my struggles in ballet (including anxiety, a harmful self-image, the fear of failure and an experience with layoff, among other things). The wonderful irony in bringing awareness to pain points is that acknowledgment can become its own form of healing. Honesty clears the path beyond the struggle where unobstructed perspective is more accessible.

While I could at any moment tick off a grand number of things dance has gifted me, it was a unique experience to make this inquiry with my body residing in the “rolled open” perspective that conversation with Jordan made possible. I offered what I felt most directly in that state – the awareness that dance taught me (eventually!) to keep opening my heart towards all the challenges with life, work, love and even self.

An invitation to listen

You can listen to the wonderful Ballet to Business podcast HERE and connect to the Ballet to Business community HERE. I urge you to follow Jordan’s lead and host honest conversations with yourself and with others about both the struggles and the gifts you credit to dance.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

checking in on our community photoshoot

Credit: Katie Salerno Photography

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

Much more than the brief exchange of life updates between two people, checking in is a relational, holistic practice. Whether it is checking in on self’s body, self’s relationship with other/s, self’s work, or self with something else entirely, this process offers a medicinal alternative to being in a world that is constantly ‘checked out.’

An embodied check is directing awareness to the pulsing of your chest when engaged in challenging conversation. It is sensing your interior reactions as you scroll through social media. It is reclaiming beats throughout your day to simply feel your feet on the ground and metabolize residue from past moments and interactions. Most simply, checking in means pausing often to consult your intuition about various directions and choice points. Checking in is a wide-ranging, inclusive practice, meant to be creatively interpreted through and with our bodies. By bringing our bodies and minds presently into our spaces – even our digital spaces – we evoke a more generous form of being. We become better able to register our wholeness in each moment, while also better seeing the wholeness of others.

This then, is my summer self checking in with yours.

In our corner of happenings at Jai-Dee, we recently wrapped up a photoshoot for our e-commerce store launching this fall. This event gave us the perfect opportunity to check in with our company vision and explore how to visually express our sustainability and community values. The collaborative nature of the photoshoot required a flowing form of checking in, each of us offering and receiving contributions with openness and curiosity. The group relished in the slow process of making organic and authentic art together, and the moments captured are a lovely reflection of this co-creation. While most of the photography is in queue for our fall launch, you can join us on instagram for sneak peeks and to learn more about the beautiful artists who contributed.

While ongoing projects at Jai-Dee are feeling lively, my summer is also making room for stillness. Especially here in New England, this bright warmth feels so transient and worth savoring. Perhaps the energy of summer is also motivating you to create and explore, as well as encouraging you to simply be. Maybe these longer days have helped shine light on important holidays of the season, such as Juneteeth and PRIDE month and given you more time to lean into issues that matter to you. As you balance the work of both engaging and unplugging, perhaps your summer self is discovering space for restoration and renewal.

Regardless of where the energy of summer is leading you, my hope is that full embodiment practice is traveling with you, nourishing your relationship to self, others and all your creative pursuits. For me, this means spending a little less time online this summer, ready to back in with news on our launch next season.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

close up black and white photograph of dancer Isabella Boylston resting on her right side smiling with her arms clasped overhead

Credit: Isabella Boylston photographed by Karolina Kuras for Fjord Review

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


Last January, our blog turned towards the sweeping topic of identity. Who we are, how we relate to others, how others relate to us and how we inhabit the world both as individuals and communities, these are inquiries still unfolding in this digital space. With guidance from our beloved guest writers this season, we are discovering a treasure chest of ideas, possibilities and insight.

The stunning dance publication, Fjord Review, creates space for the world of dance to collectively practice such existential contemplation. In Fjord’s first print edition, editor Penelope Ford calls on poet Paul Valery, “But what then is dance, and what can steps say?” The spirit of this inquiry weaves throughout the exquisite pages of Fjord; the magazine’s phenomenal contributors illuminate a world of possibility in response. This publication invites us to deeply appreciate, critique and expand the identity of dance together. You can pick up your own print edition of the beautiful Fjord Review #1 here.

So many thanks to editor Penelope Ford for sharing the story of Fjord Review with our readers.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

What’s in a name

Penelope Ford, editor of Fjord Review

“Fjord Review—fjord, like in Norway?” is sometimes the response I get when introducing the publication. Fair enough, too. Fjord doesn’t have an obvious connection to ballet and dance, our subject, but in part that was by design; when I dreamt up Fjord Review, it was to have an expansive take on dance as an art, and not necessarily subscribe to the tropes of how dance has been represented in the media up until now. The word fjord, which bears some connection to my name, is besides a strong structure in nature. I personally feel the connection between dance and our natural world is worth emphasizing, especially at this fragile time for our planet.

The Spark

Fjord Review was inspired in part by a particular moment, rather than a love of dance in general (although, this obviously I have). I think many balletomanes and dance fans can trace their obsession back to a single performance—a kind of dance epiphany. For me, it was seeing Tanja Liedtke’s “Slight,” a contemporary update on Romantic ballet, “La Sylphide” with a rebellious streak. Performed by perhaps a dozen dancers, it was mischievous, kinaesthetic and buzzing with ideas. It opened a new dimension in dance for me; and it was so powerful, I thought, it ought to be written about.

The tragic epilogue to this story is that Liedtke, on the eve of taking up one of Australia’s highest positions in dance as artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, was struck by a vehicle and killed. Dance is the ephemeral art, this we know. I think, what we hope to achieve with writing about dance is not to define, but rather to capture the human experience of seeing dance, the meaning and truth of it.

The Craft

In 2009, I left my native Australia for Toronto, Canada. I spent my time reading ‘the dance shelves’ at the library and seeing as much dance as possible. Simultaneously, traditional print media started to feel the pinch with the rise of online (free) news sources. The global financial crisis contributed to an ill economic climate. Newspapers started to lay off writers, and specialist dance critics were, alas, among the first to be cut. The writing was on the wall for dance criticism as we knew it. I reached out to a few critics, wondering if they would like to write for a new dance journal called Fjord Review, for a fee I could afford. These writers formed the basis for our online dance archive. I’m pleased to continue to have their vast knowledge and brilliant writing across our pages.

The first online iteration of Fjord was around 2012. We have since gone through a number of redesigns, mostly as my own digital skills came of age (as an independent publisher, I have had and continue to do a lot of ‘upskilling.’) At present we publish about twenty regular dance critics writing from London, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto. Writing about dance is a demanding task, requiring not only talent and an understanding of the field, but an uncommon amount of sacrifice. It is a joy for me to publish the dance criticism I receive because frequently, it astounds me. The best criticism, I find, occupies the curious space between subjectivity and objectivity, it resonates, and it also must have something to say, meaning that it is civic as well as poetic in many instances.

The Evolution

Recently we published Fjord Review #1, a limited-edition print magazine, a collection of dance criticism, feature articles, and interviews, as well as creative photoshoots with some major names in dance. Dance photographer Karolina Kuras has been instrumental in the production of the print magazine. Not only a gifted artist, she’s dedicated and intrepid, as well as generous and kind. The dancers love working with her. The other key to producing the print edition was finding the right editorial designer. Enter Lorenzo Spatocco, who translates ideas across pages in spite of working an ocean and a language apart. Lorenzo, who works in Rome, Italy, also designed our logo. I am so grateful to all our supporters, and thanks especially to Jai-Dee Dancewear for inviting me to contribute to this blog and who is a lead sponsor of the print edition.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

woman wearing silk dress and holding a black break a leg scenery bag

Credit: scenerybags.com

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


We sketched our first leotard designs for Jai-Dee Dancewear in March 2018. Exactly one year later, these designs have (at last!) fully come to life. As dancers test our production-ready size sets, we continue moving towards an official fall launch with gratitude and anticipation.

Followers of Jai-Dee may recall our leotards will feature ECONYL® regenerated nylon. This regenerative process transforms ocean and landfill waste into the fiber that gives rise to our fabric. We can’t wait for you to experience how this material looks, feels and performs.

Of course, a sustainable future needs more than ECONYL® fiber. A sustainable future needs more than Jai-Dee Dancewear. A sustainable future depends on all of us. When done with and for community, the possibilities for better are endless. Today, I introduce you to a fellow brand reducing waste and investing in the future in a unique and wonderful way!

Meet SCENERY: from backdrops to bags and beyond

In collaboration with designers, shows and theaters, SCENERY creates original, handmade bags out of retired theater backdrops. These drops were damaged, unusable, stuck in storage or en route to landfills. SCENERY collects this waste, transforming rejected curtains into an array of beautiful totes, clutches and bags. A portion of each bag sold is donated to the non-profit Theater Development Fund (TDF) to help “bring the power of the performing arts to everyone.”

Credit: scenerybags.com

Last Christmas, my sweet mum gifted me a Masking Leg Clutch from SCENERY’s Curtain Call Collection. This bag was crafted with retired black drops, known backstage as legs. Unlike one-show backdrops, these legs have lived in theaters and framed multiples stories of the stage. I simply adore my clutch and the piece of theater history it carries. The familiar feel of the black velour fabric transports me back to my own time onstage and in the wings, providing a personal, tactile link from past to present.

Tucked inside each SCENERY bag is a handwritten tag, a loopy sweep of a pen marking the artistic hands which gave these backdrops their fresh, new identity. My Masking Leg clutch has become a favorite accessory for evenings at the ballet. When I take a seat in the audience, my heart is bolstered even more by the knowledge that SCENERY has helped nearly 500 kids access theater through its nonprofit alliance with TDF.

Credit: scenerybags.com

I am struck by how fully SCENERY takes responsibility for its identity as brand. With collaboration at its core, SCENERY expands what is possible for waste, business, art and community. Their work serves a reminder that the world we inhabit is the one we choose to create. With wide open imaginations, we can see beyond the ordinary to co-create a vibrant, sustainable future together.

Join the Giveaway

In celebration of discovering this inspiring neighbor (and also with a small toast our leotards being ready for production), Jai-Dee is hosting a SCENERY bag giveaway. One winner will be selected to receive the beautiful Break A Leg bag – the perfect merde gift for yourself or a friend!

Simple Participation

To participate in the SCENERY giveaway, simply subscribe to our newsletter HERE (by the way – we like a clutter-free inbox too which is why you won’t get more than two hellos from us in a month) If you are already a subscriber, you will be automatically entered.

Extra Enthusiasm

For a second entry, SHARE this link directly with a friend via email or text. You can also spread the word on your preferred social media platform and even through good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. For this additional entry, you’ll have to LET US KNOW you took extra steps to support Jai-Dee Dancewear and SCENERY by talking about our brands. Just drop a line in our box telling us how you shared the post (honor code style!) and you’ll receive a second entry.

Timeline

Giveaway runs until April 1st(no joke!) and winner will be notified by email. We will also announce the winner to our community via the Jai-Dee newsletter and on our Instagram.

While giveaways are fun, this post is really about supporting one another in this creative community. Thanks for being here and supporting both Jai-Dee Dancewear and SCENERY! The next time you need a meaningful gift (how perfect is a Curtain Call bag for a retiring dancer?!), shop with SCENERY to reduce waste, save art and foster a future generation of theatergoers.

Credit: tdf.org

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

*Jai-Dee Dancewear is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to SCENERY. We did not receive any compensation for this post or purchases – we simply wish to share this beautiful, impactful project with our community!

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

black and white photo of a ballet dancer

Photographer Karolina Kuras, in collaboration with Louiza Babouryan (dress) and Fjord Review (sponsor)

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


When I received my first contract as a professional dancer, the self-doubt lurking in my viscera took a short vacation. The possibility of making it gave me a blissful break from my own negative narrative. But stressors (some real, some imagined) soon ushered that insecurity right back into my body. It wasn’t until I turned towards the work waiting for me on the inside that I could loosen my anxious grip on goals, destinations and external validation. With practice (and plenty of setbacks), my life today centers far less around arriving and much more around becoming.

While our current culture still pulls us towards linear living with what feels like a forceful tug, there are many creative communities stepping off ladders and rewilding hearts. By developing a community with which we can each lean on and stumble with, it seems to be we, as a society, can embrace the concept of finding feet in liminal life*.

One artist helping light the way is the lovely Shelby Elsbree. Shelby is an artist, arts advocate, writer and former professional dancer whose beautiful work I got to know through our shared history with Boston Ballet. Her creative writing home, Tutus & Tea is a stunning display of living inquiry and art. You’ll want to bookmark her site and visit it often (bring a warm cup of tea and an urushed heart).

Today on our blog, Shelby explores how our past, present and future selves co-create our wholeness. She examines how insight and opportunity emerge when we walk boldly into the disorienting phases and transitions of life. She reminds us that what is most meaningful is often not instantly visible (nor instagrammable…)

This work originally posted on Tutus & Tea last July when we were all much (much) warmer. Enjoy words and photography that promise to slow you down and thaw you out.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.


*Liminal, stemming from the latin root limen, means “threshold.” The liminal space is the crossing over space – a place where one has left something behind yet not fully into something else.


{Hello? It’s me.}

Longing for reasons good enough to return to this sweet space but weak in the face of every distraction to put it off…(is anyone else binging Suits because #MeghanMarkle? Shameless, I admit). Let’s face it, in this social world we live in, we feel the need to filter and fragment every waking moment before deeming it ‘like-worthy’ enough to share and I’m both a victim and a contributor towards the millennial trend. Anyways, I’ve been hiding in here…


…looking for followers. JK 😉

It’s 95˚outside and inspired by solo-museum ventures and reflective walks in the shade, I decided today was the day I’d treat myself to a ‘flash-chilled’ ice coffee to-stay thank you, and a thought-cleanse on this here *carefully-curated* corner of my internet legacy.

To be honest, much of my reservations to keep Tutus&Tea alive and well post-dance-career have centered around transitional doubts that I would have relevant things to say anymore — specifically to a dancer/family audience (hi momma) …but who am I kidding? I always have something to say and for every time that’s gotten me in trouble, it has gotten me twice the amount of opportunity. De rien mes amis.


So, I challenge you to take a seat and stay a while…let’s have a chat 🙂

Has anyone noticed that people’s Instagram captions have turned into mini-blog posts? I read an article that suggested this fit the needs of our dwindling attention spans* which made me sad & left me with two questions:

1. Does this mean people don’t have time for blogs anymore (not to mention articles/books for goodness sake)?! slash If I EVER get back to Tutus&Tea with inspiring content, will people even take the 5/10 minutes to read it…or are they just here for the breathtaking photography & poems ;)…?! (*disclaimer: this miiight have contributed to my procrastination, I place applicable blame here)

…and 2. If Instagram captions are all people have time for, WHAT NEXT? Will iGen be reading blurred news off sidewalk chalk whilst fighting automated-hoverboard traffic? I digress…

Yesterday after yoga, I put on some lipstick and took myself out to the Newseum here in Washington, D.C. If you haven’t been, you’re in for an emotional melting pot of American journalism history that will actually break your heart wide open. The ‘Picture Of the Year’ exhibit gathers 75 years of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs graphic and gripping enough to send you running for the “First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets” gallery 4 floors down (we miss you Bo & Sunny) — but not before you take a moment to fight back tears and ruminate over the ol’ “…a picture is worth a thousand words” adage that, in this case of surreal photo journalism, is more like “…a picture is worth our understanding of freedom & captivity, beauty & tragedy, happiness & despair, love & hate and virtually every other conceptual and emotional binary humans have the capacity to experience.” Byeee water weight.

This got me thinking back on that idea of our depreciating attention-spans and time for anything not immediately self-serving. It would be one thing if the content we consumed (inhaled more-like) came from award-winning photo journalists who have risked their lives to show us what reality looks like in a sadly “post-fact” world of news and global goings-on. In that case, we’d hardly need captions at all because words in the face of literal breath-taking captures are gross understatements…but this isn’t the case. Rather, we have the blessing (curse?) of catering our daily ‘feeds’ and followings to content that is relevant to our social circles, our passions, what we wear, write, tweet, re-post, etc…

This summer, I’m interning for a team of rockstars at GiveCampus— writing and familiarizing myself with WeWork perks and professional mentorship I could only have dreamed of before arriving here in person. Perhaps navigating a new work environment and spending a season in our Nation’s capital is rubbing off on me…I catch myself seeing things through a professional/political lens whether I want to or not—it can feel disconcerting… but on the off-hour, I recognize this as just another opportunity to embrace the foreign feelings of life transition.

On a recent morning commute, I tuned in to my fave Podcast by HRH Oprah and came across this gem of a thought to think: It seems that at nearly every point in our lives, we’re experiencing some form of a transition – whether personal, professional, physical, emotional, or spiritual…transitions don’t really come to an end, they shift into a different season or chapter of your life and manifest themselves in the people, places and things that make us who we are. Before we know it, we’re facing a new transition usually without clear resolution of the old one — perspectives shift, focus changes, thoughts reframe.

This idea #shook (forgive) me in a BIG way. Here I’ve been, spending the last two years (!!) “transitioning” from my life as a dancer to my life as a student/“retired dancer” (ugh), waiting for some obvious moment when I might feel officially “transitioned.” I’ve thought a lot about what this moment might look like as I hold fast to my calf muscles and stress dream about forgotten choreography: It usually vacillates somewhere between me graduating from Columbia, speaking publicly on behalf of my passions/experiences while holding audiences in rapt attention via clever, intellectual rhetoric (or a kick-a** Vinyasa Flow sequence) …..AND pinpointing my life’s purpose while writing a book, taking a global-trek, or getting swept off my feet by an eligible Royal on a blind-date (kidding (not kidding)).

{switches crossed legs, ahem ankles*}

Ironically whilst escaping the heat this afternoon, I came across a poignant blog post written by former Principal ballerina/current Artistic Director of Washington Ballet, Julie Kent.

“On the Labor and Reward of Becoming a Ballerina,” she wrote:

Working hard, being disciplined and focused, loving what you do—all these things that are a natural part of being a dancer—will equip you with the tools to make a contribution to the world and be successful. Do you want to dance? At the end of the day, that’s what it is. Get to the heart of what your work as a dancer means to you and then start pursuing it.”

Unsurprisingly, this struck all the cords as I sat there contemplating my life’s current, less-choreographed path…Pursuing something I’m passionate about, something impactful and fulfilling — these are all the reasons I gave my life to a sacrificial art-form like dance in the first place. All the reasons I wonder if I should go back and lace up my ballerina boots…

…the meaning of my work as a dancer… the reward of becoming a ballerina…

These now obvious concepts have nothing to do with what I gave (or could still give) to dance and everything to do with what dancing gave to me. While finding ‘meaning’ beyond the barre and world’s stages has proven to be quite the challenge, I’m now seeing my current transition to be more and more of a creative impetus into the next one.

Re-reading Julie’s post, I realized the harder I try to get to the heart of this meaning, to make a contribution to the world and be successful, the more I find my work has only just begun…and I can’t help but wonder if breezing by a filtered photo or a witty caption would have inspired this same level of reflection.

If you’ve made it down here to the bottom of this thought train, the light in me bows to the light in you 🙂

Stay tuned for recently discovered Trader Joe snacks, #InternshipMusings, and deep thoughts on family roots >> see what I did there.

Now, back to Suits.

xx, S
p.s. I welcome your thoughts with arms in 2nd position — dog days of summer are upon us and we need all the refreshing sips & shares we can get 😉

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.