Tag Archive for: fashion

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.

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.


elephants eating leaves under a thatched roof

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.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. This massive turnout stimulated the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passages of Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts that same year. It was a hopeful start.

Unfortunately, our mistreatment towards the earth has only increased since that time. Especially with the past thirty years, we have rapidly, persistently and even knowingly marched ourselves into climate catastrophe.

Earth Day is now a global event, and a glance at the ‘gram today certainly suggests worldwide concern for the planet. Social media manipulation and green sheen aside, our hearts may be in the right place. Our behaviors though, those remain in cycles and systems antithetical to the values we are hashtagging. It’s our lack of action that nullifies our well-intentioned hearts.

The earth doesn’t need us to be perfect, but it definitely needs us to be so much better –and being better depends on doing better. Here are a few things I have found worth doing.

Give up the illusion of good

When we insist on engineering a “good” image, we lose touch with the whole picture. We develop blind spots around our failures. Letting our humanity come into vision (in life, work, companies, digital spaces and beyond) is essential to our progress.

Slow the f* down

When I slow down, I am less reflexive. I buy less and consume less. I access discernment and become more intentional in my actions. I am less defensive – more congruent with life around me. If we want to change our behaviors, we have to slow down enough to work with them. I start every morning by reminding myself to slow the f* down.

Listen to The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells.

Brace yourself for a whole lot of truth-telling. This book is a clear, organized “kaleidoscopic accounting of the human costs” associated with the climate crisis we have authored. It is an important, weighty and poetic piece of work.

Cancel Carbon with Reformation

In our greenwashed world, Reformation (carbon neutral since 2015) stands out for taking meaningful action and influencing others to do the same. Their recent “Carbon is Canceled” campaign invites us all to offset carbon by switching to wind energy and by shopping the climate credits available on their site. These are simple, affordable and impactful actions (linked directly on their website) well worth exploring.

Join Earth Day 2019 to Protect our Species

Bees, coral reefs, elephants, giraffes, plants, whales and other endangered and threatened species are the focus of Earth Day 2019 (remember eliminating single use plastic was the 2018 focus? This is a good time to recheck our habits there too!) Visit the Earth Day 2019 Protect our Species campaign to get involved.

Wash laundry with a GuppyFriend® bag

The GuppyFriend® was featured in our post on microplastics last year and it is still the product we recommend for washing leotards and other activewear in. Hopefully, you already own one (sold at Patagonia) but don’t forget to use it! For me, this is a regular habit that reminds me of the daily choices I can make to reduce my harm.

Rewild your heart

We have engineered our landscapes and lives in a way that distances us from the natural world. We forget just how intimately and inextricably connected we are to the web of life. By stepping regularly into nature, we remember all that is worth protecting. Need a little inspiration? Connect with Jessica McCarthy here.

An annual Earth – ish Day is definitely not going to save the planet. As the slogan goes, it’s going to take Earth Day every day. With ongoing, civic participation (that’s us!), we have the power to bring our behaviors, politics and systems into alignment with our values. Our reality is being shaped by the steps we do or do not take. It’s urgent that we take the next step.

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.


feet standing in nature

Photography Credit: Kitfox Valentín

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.

To dance is to converse with both freedom and restraint. For most of us, it’s the freedom that speaks to us first. It’s the freedom that calls us to the path. Too soon though, our bodies, minds and the ecological framework in which dance is nested introduce restriction. Walls are erected, constructing an intricate maze where freedom is still possible, but more obstructed.

Finding freedom within restraint is undeniably part of the art – perhaps even the heart of it. But when we spiral so deeply into the maze that we can’t feel the ground, see the sky or access the field where we first felt free, we know we have given too much up.

Today on our blog, Jessica McCarthy guides us out of the maze and into alchemy.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Change is Constant: An Ode to the Evolution as a Dancer

Jessica McCarthy

“A village, a center, a space within the landscape for artists and curious seekers of something more than what this modern cultural construct has to offer. A place where people come to learn, explore, heal, and grow into themselves then take that back out into the world – a ripple effect, led by example. Vibrant, full of wilderness and wildlife. I see expansive lands. A center for gathering. Minimal, dynamic, flexible spaces made out of the earth. Spaces for artistic residencies and performances – where dancers can connect back to the roots of the body they came from; the elements. A large bonfire space where we dance awake the dream that lays dormant in our spirits as a domesticated version of the wild human lineage we are descended from. To move as a part of the land – to feed and be fed. Shifting the paradigm through movement.”

The excerpt of writing above comes from a letter I wrote to myself at the beginning of a composition and improvisation class during the summer of 2017. The prompt was something along the lines of, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” While I’ve tweaked the answer a bit since the original draft almost 2 years ago, the essence of this vision remains true.

I felt my relationship to dance shifting long before the moment I laid pencil to paper that July. But in that moment, when surrounded by fellow artists seeking the same path as professional dancers, I still chose to string that selection of words together. To veer away from desiring the “traditional” path of a professional dancer – the one I yearned for, for so very long. There are times when I question my desires, when I feel the slippery seductress of all that I had ever (thought) I wanted from my dance career begin to sing sweet siren songs and lead me astray. But this questioning happens less and less as I become more grounded in my purpose as a dancer, and beyond that identity, as a human being.

I’m in a process of alchemizing my relationship with dance – an ongoing process that will continue to be a thread throughout my life.

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The Alchemizing of a Relationship

No.1 – Extract the elements of the relationship that are the essence of why I chose to dance long ago, and throughout all of the trials and tribulations, still choose to dance today. Imbibe their spirit. Hold them dear to my heart.

No.2 – Compost the residual muck that is no longer serving a beneficial purpose in the relationship. Do not dispel the lingering negative notions, but rather, allow them to decay. Be patient with their death. As the life slips away, reflect on what I’ve learned from their teachings. Invest in the act of gratitude as the organic matter of my relationship transmutes.

No.3 – Fertilize the elemental essences with the rich, organic matter of my past experiences. Allow for the alchemy to take root in the heart of the matter. See what new life takes form.

Repeat steps 1 through 3 as often as is necessary. May be used for all kinds of relationships.

Results may vary

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Sometimes, I speak of dance as though it is a person, or a characterization of all that it is. This is simply for expression’s sake and written creativity. When in truth, dance – the way I have grown to see it, to know it, to experience it – is much more thematic in texture. A human motif. An innate wisdom of the body, experienced across all cultures throughout time, as we know it. The essence of dance, this truth, is what I’ve loved all along. It’s what has kept me invested; what has carried me through countless periods of struggle and pain, enduring the inflicted wounds of rejection and confusion that accompany the path of a professional dancer. All, for the love of dance.

When I was 3, I wanted to dance. I don’t know why, but I did. I insisted on it. I would only wear dresses, mind you, that twirled when I danced around…no matter what the weather was like outside. Simple and pure, movement was life. Fast forward many years and somewhere along the way, I got a little lost. A little caught up in the concerns of “making it” and being a successful professional dancer. Thinking I knew what I wanted out of a professional dance career and that ultimately, I would be happy once this career goal was reached. Until then, being content in my career was always a stone’s throw away. Setting the bar higher. Wanting more out of life. Never stop, never settle. Just a few of the guiding mantras I followed.

My ideas as to what it means for me to be in touch with my human self have shifted as I’ve been walking down a rewilding path. It’s a very hard pill to swallow when it dawns on you that the very thing you love to do has become captive to the domesticated systems that we mostly operate within. When it dawns on you that the very thing you’ve grown up loving and devoting yourself to, has manifested itself into a career paradigm that holds direct conflict with how you actually envision your life unfolding.

The dance studio feels like a cage at times. Surrounded by mirrors, marley, and artificial lighting when I crave woodland paths, giant old-growth Doug firs, the reflection from rushing rivers, and natural light sourced from the sun’s rays, even when that means the direct light is blocked by a thick blanket of clouds on an overcast day here in the PNW. To me, a little natural light is better than lots of artificial light – quality vs. quantity.

Outside of the dance studio, I have weaved an interconnected web of wellness, honoring the wisdom of the natural world and the cycles we find within it as guidance for how I structure my own life, and facilitate my offerings to others. I am a wellness guide to those seeking to cultivate a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them through movement practices that bridge ancient wisdoms with modern methodologies. Luminous Architecture, my body of work, allows me to serve others through my favorite medium: movement. Merging healing movement with holistic lifestyle design, my spirit soars when helping people move through the world, both literally and figuratively, with more awareness and pleasure…similar to how I feel when I’m performing.

I love performing – always have, always will. But to solely be a great performer, that is not where I find purpose. It is not where I feel most useful. To have a profound impact on the way people choose to live their lives while here on this earth, to empower others through the medium of movement, to bring dance back to its roots – dance not just for entertainment, but as a form of ritual, holding ceremony, celebration, mourning, processing the unwavering human experience of emotions. The raw, primal, transcendent aspects of dance that allow us to connect with the human spirit. Shifting the paradigm of human existence through movement. This is where I find purpose.

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Deciding to move away from NYC and relocate to the Pacific Northwest was a big step towards bringing these visions to life. How could I ever connect to the body of the land, the blood of my work, the call to come home as a human while living in the city that never sleeps? Quite honestly, I was getting exhausted.

I have found myself dancing, rehearsing, and performing with BodyVox here in Portland because my dreams seem to unfold in a non-linear way. When an opportunity comes a-knockin’ the least you can do is answer and give it a listen. Old habits die hard, true change takes time, and that siren song is strong enough to bring me back to the studio in the more conventional career path. Now I’m able to balance my rehearsal schedule with plenty of time outdoors, unlike when living in the concrete jungle. Seeking balance along the spectrum of this vision is serving me well, and for that, I am grateful.

My partner and I have begun to explore how to breathe life into our collective vision of merging artistry with humanity through the creation of GROUND + CENTER. A project, and furthermore, a lifestyle, that melds our art forms with our human forms. On the artistic side, combining site specific dance performance and fine art photography. On the human side, combining our need to feed and be fed by the natural world of which we are a part. A project where we, as artistic humans, can ground into the land we live on, the art forms we love, and build a center for people to gather, grow, and awaken the human spirit. Something like that letter I wrote back in 2017. The vision stays alive, is nourished, and it continues to manifest.

Feeling at home within my body, honoring the wisdom of my body, bringing greater awareness as to how my movement – how I choose to move, walk, dance in this world – affects lives, human and non-human alike, and truly has an impact on the bigger picture of this planet. Leading by example, physically moving to inspire others to move more, move more freely, more purposefully, more intentionally, with greater care and deeper connection to themselves and the wild world that cradles them. This is where my movement practice is leading me these days. To work within a landscape, dance among the elements, and create something that sheds light on the heart of the matter – our humanness, our nature; our human nature.


Photo Credit: Kitfox Valentín

Contributor Bio:

Jessica McCarthy is a dancer, teacher, and healer based in Portland, OR. A native of Virginia, she holds a BFA in Dance and a minor in Psychology from NYU. Throughout her dance career, she has performed contemporary, opera, and dance theater works by Jamey Hampton + Ashley Roland, Florian Bilbao, Reut Shemesh, Charlotte Boye-Christensen, and Zoe Scofield, among others. Training includes Gaga Intensive, Strictly Seattle, Richmond Ballet, The Ailey School, and Elbert Watson. Jessica is also a 300 hour licensed Mind Body Dancer yoga teacher. Her body of work, Luminous Architecture, weaves an integrative web of movement, healing, wellness practices, and holistic lifestyle design. After 7 years in NYC, Jessica happily calls the Pacific Northwest home, where she dances with BodyVox, serves as a wellness guide, and can be found exploring wild landscapes. She also teaches yoga classes at The Grinning Yogi in PDX and returns to NYC seasonally to offer workshops and women’s gatherings.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

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close up photo of a globe

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.

The March equinox marks one of two times each year that day and night unfold to equal lengths. This ‘balancing act’ of darkness and light is a precarious collection of conditions. It is movement, rhythm, angles and relationship that together create this equality. Today, as I tune into the equinox, I marvel at how this simple balance can be expressed amidst the chaos in our universe.

As a society, we have a tendency to put ‘balance’ in a bucket for later. After I finish this performance run. After I secure a contract. After my baby learns to sleep. Certainly, taking refuge on the other side of a high-stress period is an important part of living sustainably. But what if balance doesn’t have to just wait? Could it possibly be found within the chaos? Perhaps balance could be less conditional, more creative, an infusing of real-life with oxygen and perspective. As I finish this performance run. As I secure a contract. As my baby learns to sleep.

In the Middle of it All, Somewhat Elevated

Alongside the early buds of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, ballet companies unveil their upcoming seasons. International auditions wrap up and company contract renewals are distributed. Retirements, staff changes and promotions are announced. New dancers are hired and some dancers are given notice (been there!). In certain years, there’s room for expansion, opportunity and risk-taking. Other years call for cutting back and working with restraint. With a busy performance season still underway, the low rumble of the future inches closer. A tangled blend of emotions – from anticipation and excitement, to stress and disappointment – weave with notable imbalance through studio halls.

Whether experiencing or witnessing change, the ground beneath every dancer is shifting at least a little (or perhaps a lot) this spring. Some of the changes announced in the ballet world have signaled progress (though nowhere near equality) in our artform. As all forms of news, activity and emotion swirl through the air, balance may seem out of reach – even trivial. Yet balance is the very thing that allows us to be in the middle of our chaos, and also somewhat elevated.

Expanding the Repertoire for Balance

The commodified version of balance is sold to us in the form of face masks, vacations and wine. It’s advertised as the serene parenting professional who “has it all together” between her cross-training regimens, meal plans and supermom strategies. Such comedic, unrealistic representations distort what balance is and how it is cultivated. They trick our minds into believing that balance is something we either indulge in sometimes or achieve for always.

It’s freeing to remember balance is not something to master; it is something to tilt towards. The equinox arrives showing us it is an experience to move into, pass through and rhythmically move back towards again.

Balance, and the daily habits that sponsor it, look different for each of us. It’s an ongoing, personal process of inquiry and discovery to truly tailor the fit. But for all of us, it’s important to identify balance as something larger than ourselves. An artist’s healthy inner life is interdependent with a healthy arts community at large. Expanding outward in the name of balance is as equally important as turning inward. Rather than depleting us, engaging outwardly as an arts advocate broadens perspective, fuels inspiration and enriches passion with purpose. With small, everyday actions, balance becomes something we can access and experience together.

Three Action Steps:

  • JOIN Americans for the Arts
    The National Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day occured in Washington, DC earlier this March. This summit brought arts activists together in support of strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Hosted by Americans for the Arts, cultural and civic organizations partnered to advocate for issues like arts education policy, the charitable tax deduction and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. You can JOIN Americans for the Arts to support this annual event and to engage with their tremendous efforts all year long.
  • EXPLORE The United States of Arts
    Since the beginning of 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts has been gathering stories from the general public and grantees, elected officials and agency directors, artists and art lovers across the country about the importance of art in their lives and their communities. EXPLORE these geographically organized stories to spark creative ideas and connect to your community as an arts advocate.
  • ENCOURAGE Creativity
    As dancers, you already know why #TheArtsMatter. This Encourage Creativity campaign (created by Americans for the Arts) is designed to reach your power-holding policymakers, business leaders, parents and teachers. These wonderful resources can be used by YOU to advocate for access to the arts in your community and to educate those around you. Start by SHARING this compelling (and adorable!) video. Supplement your efforts with Why the Arts Matter State Factsheets.

When we embody balance as a daily rhythm that bends us both inward and outward, we become better artists and also better citizens. However imperfect these practices are, they still seem to create the occasional magic of an equinox, right in the middle of our lives.

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.


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.

Let Us Know


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.