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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.

 

plants sprouting

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.


2018 was a year of planting seeds for Jai-Dee Dancewear. With support from Factory45, Wallace James, Emily Belyea and RISE Creative, we laid down roots to grow a sustainable, ethical business. We collaborated with many talented artists to launch our microsite, newsletter and blog, and we created a cozy spot on Instagram to welcome you to our budding community without bombarding you with content. We designed our leotards, sourced our fabrics and sewed our ideas into shape.

As we move towards the production phase of our project, preparing for a Fall launch, I’m pausing here to express my gratitude for YOU. Thank you for encouraging, sharing and inspiring the work that we are doing. Your support is nourishing and deeply appreciated.

As our brand identity continues to grow and evolve in the year(s!) ahead, I find myself drawn to a much broader inquiry into the subject of identity as a whole. This inquiry into how we shape, interpret and respond to identities will be the focus on our blog over the next several months. In this upcoming series, we will be exploring the fullness of identity and how it grows, shifts and transforms as we move through life. We will dwell in the intersections where a woman’s identity as a dancer crosses with other important aspects of herself. We will interrogate the rigidity we build around identity and study how this rigidity limits our sense of self, our capabilities beyond our comfort zone and our perception of others. With these posts, interviews and guest features, we will welcome in more possibility for ourselves, each other and the many worlds we inhabit together.

Thank you for continuing with us on our journey. Shaping Jai-Dee’s identity, and creating a tangible product to strongly reflect that identity, is a thoughtful, careful process and your patience and excitement is both encouraging and inspiring.

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.

 

ballerina backstage nutcracker

ballerina backstage nutracker

Photographed by Rosalie O’Connor Courtesy of Boston Ballet

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.


Sarah Wroth is the type of artist, colleague, leader and friend who reimagines what is possible in any given moment. I was lucky to dance beside this special person for many years while we worked together at Boston Ballet. The integrity Sarah brought to her work elevated our entire organization, where she challenged each of us to bring open minds, hearts and spirits to the studio each day.

After I left the company, and before Sarah herself retired, we made it a habit to meet for tea and exchange life updates. As we caught up at a cafe one afternoon, I extended sympathy to Sarah for the “dreaded” Nutcracker season soon underway for her. Sarah smiled back at me, the joy in her face proving the honesty in her reply.

I love Nutcracker, she said.

Sarah pointed out how Nutcracker is often the first, sometimes only ballet to bring someone to the theater. She expressed a sense of honor in being able to share dance with new, more diverse audience members. She went on to frame the yearly grind of Nutcracker as a tremendous opportunity for artistic and personal growth. As we spoke, it became clear that Nutcracker didn’t break her down – it lifted her up.

Plus, for a child, Sarah emphasized, Nutcracker is pure magic.

In all my years in the company with Sarah, I had assumed her unwavering devotion to Nutcracker each winter was some kind of survival strategy intersecting with her trademark work ethic. But in the café that day, I felt the glowing sincerity in her love towards something so many of us have taken for granted as dancers – resented even.

Sometimes optimism feels like bullshit. Sometimes though, the seemingly-optimistic perspective is actually the more complete view. Sarah didn’t deny that performing Nutcracker season can be mind-numbing, soul-draining and generally pretty painful. She didn’t sugarcoat reality or add artificial sweetener. She simply hadn’t forgotten there are other pieces to the Nutcracker story. Dancing Nutcracker IS an honor. It IS a responsibility. It IS… at least sometimes… pure magic.

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.

 

black and white photo of two dancers holding one another in a ballet position

three drops of joy featured ballet dancers

Photograph by Karolina Kuras

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.


Earlier this fall, when I asked Boston Ballet dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy where she finds beauty in her life, she described beauty as something that exists all around us. With this simple reflection, she reminded us readers how we often have more access to joy than we might habitually notice.

This season, I’m finding it nourishing – crucial even – to look, listen and feel for moments of beauty and joy. These simple moments lift my heart and say to me that we can still be whole, even when our planet feels broken and there is work to be done. I’m learning joy is here for us even when suffering and injustice tramples through our world and over our hearts.

Here are three things of beauty that promise to provide a drop of JOY as you care for your spirit, show up for your world and intentionally give and gift this season:

Fjord Review


This stunning digital dance magazine is coming to life in print this December. It’s a limited edition run and an eco-friendly production. Whether you back their Kickstarter campaign as gesture of artistic support, gift the magazine to other dancers or purchase the creation as artwork for your own coffee table, your contribution will help the joy of dance become tangible.


Market45


Market45 is a beautiful online space for people looking to shop differently this season. This ethical fashion marketplace celebrates the joy of simplicity and embraces the value of sustainability. I personally love the featured Farbrook Studio lounge pants for legs that want to stretch, as well as all of the Regenerous Designs headbands. (I own and love the Big Braided Headband in Vintage Rose!) Dancers will simply adore the look and fit of these headbands. Shopping through Market45 not only provides you with ethical and sustainable shopping options – it also provides you 10% off your purchase!


Coloring Without Borders


Artists and citizens are coming together to help end family separation and support family reunification at our American border. This collaborative and beautiful coloring book helps children separated from their families at the border to “expand their imaginations beyond the walls that confine them” and helps encourage “empathy and compassion for families that live free of the struggles that migrant families are enduring.”

All proceeds go directly to Families Belong Together. This is my gift of choice for both the children and adults in my life this holiday season.

With an aching, yet joyful heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

photo of a ballerina dancing in a subway station

Image Credit: Justin Reid

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.


“Dance is a beautiful responsibility.”

Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy

Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy is a second soloist with Boston Ballet. She performed as a principal dancer with the Dance Theater of Harlem for five years before joining Boston Ballet in 2017. It has been a true delight for me to catch Chyrstyn onstage many times since her move to Boston. Her clean, expressive movement flows seamlessly into the high caliber lines the artists of Boston Ballet create together, but what I personally find most beautiful about her work is the open presence with which she shares it.

Sometimes there’s the assumption that the role of the dancer is to completely transcend humanity and give audiences a break from reality, but for me, it’s far more interesting to watch artists show up without any facade and help us not to ignore or turn away from our humanity but to instead explore it more deeply – to reimagine what is possible within it. This is the type of dancer I see in Chyrstyn – an artist using her whole self to carve her unique signature onto the stage with skillful intention and an unguarded heart. When I watch her dance, I see a person doing more than just “performing well.” She is sharing her work and love for dance – sharing well, working well, loving well. This generosity is also palpable in the perspective she contributes to this blog post, and I am grateful to share her artistry – in written form – with you here.


Perspective on…
by Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy

on: befriending oneself

I am proud of the woman I am becoming. It may have taken a long time but I am finally finding comfort in my own skin. Loving me for me and not for someone else’s idea of what I should be. I’m beautiful – mixed girl, hair short, afro and all.

My mother is white, and my dad is black. I was primarily raised by my mother who was also my ballet teacher. For as long as I can remember, my mom worked very hard to make sure I loved the skin I was in and that I felt like I belonged. I’d go to auditions and she would tell me things like, “yes, your skin is a little bit darker than everyone else in the room, but it gives you a glow and draws eyes towards you.” She would remind me how unique I am and how many people would give anything to be “different.”

Inevitably, I had my insecurities anyway because I didn’t entirely belong to one clear category of people. I felt too ‘this’ to be ‘that’ and too ‘that’ to be ‘this.’ These feelings surfaced mostly in everyday life but because of the perspective my mom instilled in me as a dancer, I did feel at home in the studio. When I was in dance class, I was an equal, and if I worked as hard as the next person, then I deserved to be there just as much as they did.

However, when I began to dive into the professional world and moved to New York City, the security I had felt in dance began to change. In school and in my first years in a company, I not only learned so much about the history of racism in the ballet world but also learned of – and directly dealt with – racism and “colorism” within races. I overheard my peers suggesting, “she’s only getting those parts because she’s black.” I read articles come out about African-American companies favoring only “lighter skinned” dancers. I read comments saying, “you’re not even black – you don’t know what you’re talking about,” in response to a video of me sharing my experience with the Dance Theatre of Harlem- a predominantly African-American ballet company. I was again too ‘this’ to be ‘that’ and too ‘that’ to be ‘this’’- but now even as a dancer.

I’ve had to grow thick skin and remind myself often how to love the person that I am for the amazing qualities that I do have. I have had to learn to accept that not everyone is going to have the same or even a positive opinion of others but that we don’t need give power to unreasonably negative people.

When I joined Boston Ballet in 2017, I learned I was the first African-American woman to join the company in TEN YEARS! Tai Jimenez, also a former Dance Theatre of Harlem company member was the last. Female, African-American dancers went entirely unrepresented in the company for nearly a decade. This was a mind blowing realization for me but it reminded me that I am a part of something larger than myself. Now, every time I go on stage, I remember there could be a little girl of color in the audience who sees me and learns, “I can do that too”.

 

on: self-advocacy

My moment of personal triumph last season was when the company was performing the ballet “Chaconne” in the Balanchine program. When this ballet first premiered in 1976 with New York City Ballet, the company was, as many companies remain even today, predominantly Caucasian. The ballet opens with a large corps of women in long gowns with their hair flowing down portraying Balanchine’s image of pure, beautiful femininity. The women walk and dance around the stage as if floating and eventually bourre off into the wings.

I was cast as the center woman in the corps de ballet for “Chaconne.” This girl stands on center as the curtain rises and is the first person to move in the entire ballet. Now is when I should mention I do not have long flowing hair. I have a short, curly afro. The first couple performances, I was put in a wig in order to match the rest of the women on stage. I felt nothing but shame the entire time I wore it. Knowing that we were meant to represent beautiful, natural women and that I was the only person on stage who wasn’t beautiful enough to be just be herself was painful.

One day after being fed up with the gross feeling I was carrying around with me, I approached our ballet mistress and asked if she would let me try to perform with my own hair out. The next show, I did. As the curtain rose, me standing there as my real self, all of those feelings of insecurity I had carried with me since I was a little girl, all of the things people have said about me and all of my internal self-destructive voices stopped. I finally felt beautiful. I think it was in that moment that I really, truly began to love myself for who I am. Rather than trying to paint this idea of love onto myself, it was real and I felt free.

 

on: artistic inspiration

Oddly enough, I don’t have a specific artist that inspires my ambitions, but rather locate things in many people (often in the very people I share a studio with) that I find intriguing. My curiosity for how people do things encourages me to continue exploring my own movement. My mom is also always a part of my dancing. She had to give up so much of her own professional ballet career to support me growing up. I know how much she loves ballet, and in honor of her sacrifice, it is my responsibility to do the best I can. It helps that I also love it!

 

on: beauty

Beauty is all around us! It’s in the current fall breeze and in the smell of wet pavement. It’s in the music I get to listen to every day and the dialogue my body gets to have with it. It’s in my dog and his never ending happiness. It’s in the book I’m reading. It’s everywhere- and sometimes in the strangest places, like a sharing a good laugh with a stranger on a crowded long morning train commute.

 

on: the future of ballet

The future of ballet scares me quite a bit. With the always-growing internet and social media, I am afraid that people will lose interest in live art. I just want to remind everyone how special it is to experience live performances. It is a moment that both the artist and audience are sharing and it will never be re-lived or done the same exact way ever again.

However, ballet will also continue to adapt and take advantage of these technological advancements. My boyfriend, Jorge Villarini, was a part of a ballet by Melissa Barak this summer that used a full screen with choreographed projections and a video sequence that felt like watching a 3D movie! I also saw a performance by Company Wayne McGregor where the audience wore 3D glasses and the dancers danced beneath 3D televisions the entire show. I imagine this is just the beginning of what is to come!

 

on: representation and inclusivity

I think progress starts with not being afraid to ask questions that might make you feel slightly uncomfortable. Reach out to more diverse communities that have the arts, maybe on a lesser scale, and ask them what they think is important. From those answers, try to reach communities that don’t have the arts at all. This isn’t a job that can be done by one group of people – we all have to be involved. I think as a dancer it’s important to be willing to give back to the community in ways outside of performing. Be willing to meet with young dancers of color and encourage them to continue their pursuits. The more everyone feels welcomed in the arts community, the more their friends will be interested, and then the siblings of their friends and so on and so on.

 

on: growth and goals

It’s my goal not to be so hard on myself this year. To work physically harder than ever, but to give time to being a human. When I am happier, I dance better and so I want to experience life more. I think that will allow me to mature as a stronger, more confident artist.

 

on: kindness

Being kind-hearted means doing good things for others just to be good, not to be praised or noticed.


For me – and I suspect for you too – Chyrstyn’s perspective is powerful, important and inspiring. No matter where we are in our ballet training, ballet career or post-ballet life, we can all help create healthier, more inclusive communities. Let’s embrace Chyrstyn’s suggestions and start by asking more questions, turning towards discomfort and deliberately advocating for what we believe in.

With heart – and with much gratitude to Chyrstyn,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

black and white photo of a laundry bag with a message on it that says "Stop! Micro Waste"

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 have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it.”

Albert Camus

I type this hello while savoring a joy-inducing oat milk draft latte – the airy, clean coffee fix I had been missing for weeks. It seems the rest of Boston discovered how delightful nitro coffee paired with Oatly tastes and every café was out of the Swedish brilliance for awhile. The oatmilk is back. It’s delicious, and it is the perfect companion for my writing today. Well, aside from the plastic cup it came with. The barista poured up my order before I got my Yeti Tumbler passed over to her, and the irony of writing about sustainability while drinking from a plastic cup is not lost on me.

Contradictions…they are part of this dance. It is impossible to escape them, and so we challenge ourselves to see them, work with them and learn how to do better with each step forward.

Like with all messy bits of life, we have a series of choices about how to deal with our omnipresent contradictions. We can be swallowed up by the guilt they induce (Hi… that’s me). We can ignore them and become indifferent (but please, let’s not). We can constantly justify them (thanks to how amazing are brains are at resolving cognitive dissonance even when it doesn’t serve us well). Or, we can begin to notice our contradictions with curiosity, a touch of humor and maybe even a little grace. A lightness in approach doesn’t excuse us from doing better, but it keeps us from getting paralyzed on the path.

In the spirit of exploring contradiction, I challenge each of us to become curious about our synthetic clothing.

Synthetics (think nylon, polyester and fleece) are popular and useful for their durability, stretching and moisture-wicking capabilities. Our favorite leotards, warm-ups, athletic wear, yoga pants and underwear are all likely to contain synthetic fibers. Traditionally, these synthetics are made with chemicals from coal, plastic and natural gases (yikes), but innovative technologies using recycled water bottles and other waste have enabled earth-friendly iterations that companies like Jai-Dee are embracing with enthusiasm. Today, synthetic textiles can be both high-performing and responsibly produced, making them popular for conscious brands and conscious consumers.

Yet, while synthetic textiles look and function beautifully while on the body, they are proving to be quite harmful while in our washing machines. Washing even a single load of synthetic clothing can release hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers back into our waterways. Microplastics are the tiny, often-invisible fibers that shed from synthetic textiles when washed, and unfortunately, even recycled fabrics will shed these microplastics when cleaned in our convenient, conventional ways.

Jai-Dee Dancewear directly supports the rescue of ocean and landfill waste by using ECONYL® regenerated nylon in our dancewear but our leotards are not exempt from the microplastic issue. When we began the design and development journey for Jai-Dee Dancewear, I saw the contradiction inherent in using a recycled synthetic fabric that helps clean up the ocean but then sheds plastic back into the waterways when washed. I saw the contradiction and got curious about possible solutions.

As Ocean Clean Wash asserts, “The release of plastic microfibers from synthetic clothing problem demands a solution-oriented collaborative effort from industry — including fashion companies and producers of washing machines, detergents, and yarns — to find sustainable long-term solutions to stop the release of microplastic fibers from laundry washing.” For us at Jai-Dee, participating in a solution-oriented collaborative effort means helping to make the issue more visible, sharing the current research with you and pointing to practical solutions that can be immediately implemented by our communities.

Patagonia.com

One good thing you can do with me to be a part of the solution – buy this for your washing machine. Using a GUPPYFRIEND® laundry bag (sold at cost from Patagonia for less than $30) is a simple, effective way we can collectively take meaningful action against plastic pollution. There are other options that help keep your microfibers out of the water (like the amazing Cora Ball), but for dancewear specifically, I like how the GUPPYFRIEND design provides a full protective layer for garments while in the washing machine. While trapping microfibers for safe disposal, the bag also inherently protects the quality of your clothes and helps your leotards live their longest, best lives – a double win for sustainability.

I suggest washing not only your future Jai-Dee leotards (more updates coming soon on those!) in these laundry bags but ALL your dancewear, activewear and underwear – as well as any other clothes you have with synthetic fibers. The GUPPYFRIEND bag is not going to completely solve the microplastic issue of course, but it is a simple, accessible way that each of us can immediately become part of the solution.

With heart – and no shortage of contradictions,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

If you are interested in being part of the solution beyond your own washing machine, take a moment to share this post within your own network of friends and followers. You can also learn more about LANGBRETT, the company behind the bag and their related nonprofit, Stop! Micro Waste, HERE.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

 

Join me in supporting #istandforgirls

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.

Share #IStandForGirls and Bring a Beautiful Movement into the Light


Share your shine. The world needs more of that.

– Cleo Wade

Ask a dancer who “made it” how she pulled her dreams down from the stars, planted them beneath her feet and grew them into her life. Her story will begin with the courage to dream in the first place, and her journey will be one full of personal ambition, tenacity, dedication and love. It will also be a story only possible because opportunities were made available to her. Without the gifts of opportunity to leap upwards, her dreams would have stayed suspended in the sky, her arms unable to reach the woman she was always meant to become.

The women behind Kurandza, a beautiful non-profit based in Mozambique, know that access to an education is the transformative opportunity girls across the globe need most. A quality education is the first, most essential step towards empowering girls with dreams. It’s the opportunity that changes everything.

When girls are educated…

  • they are less likely to marry early, have unplanned pregnancies and contract HIV.
  • they are more likely to earn a higher income compared to individuals who did not go to school.
  • they are more likely to be financially secure and economically empowered.
  • they are more likely to change the world around them for the better.

Jai-Dee Dancewear is grounded in a commitment to socially-driven organizations, projects and people, most particularly those with an emphasis on empowering girls and female led communities. I’m grateful to a small team of talented women who wholeheartedly support this commitment and help me animate our values. When we began to shape a company vision, we spent time contemplating whether to be locally or globally minded in our efforts. Eventually I realized we didn’t have to choose. There are women everywhere leading the way to a better, kinder world. From the inspiring dancers in our own neighborhoods, to Kurandza’s powerful team in Southeast Africa, creative women near and far make the future brighter. Together, let’s share the shine.

This month, Jai-Dee is participating in Kurandza’s #IStandForGirls campaign to help raise funds to send 200 girls in Mozambique to school. As my own daughter teaches me daily, children can access their waiting dreams and grow towards bright futures when they are provided the education and support they deserve. With joyful enthusiasm, she joins me in sponsoring two girls in Mozambique this year. Each sponsorship covers a child’s backpack, uniform, school fees and supplies, transportation, as well as enrollment in Kurandza’s Holistic Education Program for access to tutoring, health education, empowerment courses and activities in sports, dance and art.

I invite you to consider a simple way you can help create a springboard for these girls. Perhaps you are in the midst of the back-to-school supply hustle for your own children, or you can simply recall how freshly sharpened pencils in your growing hands invited you to write, draw and manifest the future of your dreams. Some of you will know the struggle of having had less than what you needed at the start of each school year – the resilience and slivers of hope it took to arrive where you are today. Though each of us hold unique backgrounds and stories, we all understand education matters. Collectively, we can empower more girls to access it.

To join this beautiful movement, share a photo with the hashtag #IStandforgirls and raise awareness, or go to Kurandza.org to learn how $20/month can sponsor the education of a girl. Together, our dance communities can help these girls reach their dreams for more.

I have been following Kurandza since learning about this non-profit social enterprise through a delightful Cheeky Days box gifted to my daughter. Kurandza’s founders, Elisabetta and Percina, each of them with remarkable stories worth reading, illustrate the power of friendship and the magic women create when they join forces. Together, Elisabetta and Percina listen closely to the people on the ground in Mozambique. They ensure their efforts are relevant and maximally impactful by allowing local needs to drive all of Kurandza’s programs. This collaborative, empowering and community-invested approach is crucial to an ethical and impactful social enterprise, and it is an approach that beautifully aligns with our values held at Jai-Dee.

school girls in blue and pink uniforms dancing and having fun

Kurandza means “to love” in Changana, the local language of the people in Mozambique. With their individual lives and shared mission at Kurandza, Elisabetta and Percina are helping us remember how to love each other.

In our own communities and in communities all over the world, there are girls with dreams. When empowered with the opportunity, they are ready to make their lives and our world better. This September, I stand for the girls of Mozambique, and I invite you to stand with me.

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.

 

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.


Whether you intentionally sought out this page or were just passing by, it’s lovely you’re here. I’ve begun this blog as the founder of Jai-Dee Dancewear, a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. I am also a former professional dancer and forever a lover of movement. I believe in fiercely protecting the arts, caring for humanity, listening to Mother Nature, cultivating a generation of strong girls and supporting kind hearts.

In 2016, I adopted a little girl. Of all the moments and memories there are to miss about my career as a ballerina, the thing I never experienced is the thing I ache for most – to have danced with the wider perspective, clarified purpose and deep joy motherhood generously provides me. Among the many humbling lessons I am encountering as a mother, it’s the simple ones that stick – how love itself is the highest art form, and no matter what, kindness matters. As you meet, read and follow our young brand, you’ll find me coming back to these truths often, striving to fully embody them as a creator, mother and human being.

On these pages, you’ll find sustainability explored as a creative, imperfect endeavor. I will be learning out loud as we unfold the inner workings of Jai-Dee here on this blog, with passion for process and dedication to transparency. You’ll find these pages featuring the socially-minded projects, people and causes with which Jai-Dee is delighted to collaborate and support. Most importantly, this space is designed for the work of all creative women – your voice and your work are invited here too. Sustainability, self-care, creativity, community, arts advocacy and artistic activism are a few themes that will dance among these posts.

The growth of this page and the words on it will be slow and steady, with intentions to offer monthly reflections, articles and love notes in service of growing a conscious community of dancing women. My hope is that you will find a mindful, artistic space being built here, with all hands and hearts welcome.

From my art to yours,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.