I have collaborated with the wonderful company Pretty Polly this week ! I used their tights to inspire my style in the studio! It’s been great fun and has made me think more outside the box in my usual ballet wardrobe choices! Tights can get pretty boring for ballerinas, we have to wear them everyday in training and there are not many costumes where they are not the base layer. It was great to use these beautiful tights from Pretty Polly to challenge me to think differently about my studio wear.
For this blog I asked you to show me your ballet style, from your wallpaper to your dressing table, to what you wear going out on the town ! Your replies have been fantastic and I’ve featured the best here. Now next time, more examples of style other than clothes - be brave!
From @glasgowgallerina - Instagram
A cute baby pink skirt over the top of a black all in one, with headphones to listen to those motivational beats !
@riapaints - Instagram
Amazing make up from Ria, those eyes just pop ! The pierced lip makes the black swan look even edgier.. rocking
@ElizabethRGFS - Twitter
Lizzie going for the classic combo - black leotard with a short black skirt. Very classy and oh so Audrey Hepburn !
@paula_ballerina - Instagram
Paula taken my DIY skirt tutorial for a try and looks very chic! Loving the matching top and high bun.
@vassellomargherita - Instagram
Loving Margheritas stripy trousers, they look super comfortable too and that arched foot is the best accessory a ballerina can have !
@emma_faulkner - Instagram
This look by Emma’s daughter is a look us ballerinas have all worn in the past ! It brings me way back. Wearing your pink tights underneath whatever you are wearing that day, with an immaculate high plait bun and trainers to rest those feet. Love this look !
@BigBalletDonna - Twitter
Could not agree more with Donna, ‘You are never fully dressed without a smile’ , so true.
@ballet.brilho - Instagram
Gorgeous little outfit here, with a circular skirt and tucked in t shirt. The hair, half up/half down and pearls finish the look lovely.
@londonballetaddict - Instagram
A Russian inspired look from Maria especially with the scraped back hair. I love the bare legs too, highlights the muscles tone.
@oohitori_dances - Instagram
Su Yuen Ho going for a mermaid vibe in this very funky leotard !
Thank you to all participants. I will be asking you again to show more looks in the near future !
Discover more tricks to the ballet trade ...
We use powdered rosin on the tips and heels of our shoes to reduce slippage while we dance, as everyone knows. However you might not know that we also use it on our body for partnering! For example I put it on my waist and derrière for Arabian Dance so it helps the men to grip and not slip off the costume or my skin !
We call this ‘the red spay’ ! It’s an adhesive spray to stick tape and dressings on, however us dancers use this to stick our costumes to our skin !! Especially around the derrière area so we don’t get wedgies! Quite an important tool especially for those modern ballets !
Sometimes, for extra caution we sew the costume to our tights !
If you are at home and have run out of thread make like a ballerina and use dental floss! Not all dancers use floss but those who do swear by it to sew ribbons on their pointe shoes. It’s very strong and secure, and makes you feel confident that those ribbons won’t come loose !
We are constantly putting our ballet tights on and off throughout the day which can lead to some serious laddering. But we have a trick for that... nail polish ! Put a dollop on and it stops the ladder extending !
The end of our ribbons are called pigs ears and one of the first things we learn as a little girl is to tuck them in. They sometimes come loose during a show. The way we stop this is to hairspray the knot to make it tacky and sometimes for extra caution, we sew !
We don’t use any fancy massage tools just two tennis balls inside a tubi grip does the trick. It gets those tight muscles loosened, it’s light in your ballet bag and very cheap !
And one for the men!
Their shoes come with two elastics already sewn onto the shoe by one end, the theory is that they will sew the other end onto their shoes in their chosen position. No chance!
Instead of sewing the elastics onto their shoes they tie a knot and slip it over their feet!
In any profession there are always hacks you learn along the way - here are ours ...
Not for haemmorrhoids but for numbing toenails ! A lot of people assume we get a lot of pain through blisters but actually it’s the toenails that can make us wince ! This cream has saved a lot of shows. There was a run of Swan lake Shows and I don’t know how I could have done them without this cream !
We darn the end of our pointe shoes as it gives more of a platform when you are on the toes. It also makes the shoe ‘last’ a bit longer as the toes after time can go very soft.
Soft cream cheese
A lot of dancers, in particular, in Germany swear by this soft cream cheese for bunion pain ! They pile a load on their bunions before they go to bed and wrap it with cling film. The next day all swelling disappears!
We cut our ballet tights
We cut our tights for all kinds of requirements. The heel is cut so I have extra grip for my pointe shoes. The toe area is cut for two different reasons. Firstly I can plaster my toes with ease ( and use that haemorrhoid cream ) without taking the tights all the way off. Secondly it makes me feel the pointe shoe more with less sliding around.
Floor polish - Shellac
Pointe shoes don’t last long. They are made of papier mache and get soft over time. To preserve the lives of our shoes (or to delay the inevitable sewing!) we swill the shoe inside with shellac and let it dry. A couple of layers of this brittle liquid means that the shoes will last a show or if we are lucky, an extra few days!
To hide from the audience that we actually do cut our tights we apply pancake ( make -up ) to fill in the hole and make it look smooth. Simple.
Look out for next weeks- Ballet Hacks part 2
Only on Ballet.Style !
A short but very exciting tour, The Royal Ballet performed two great productions - The Winters Tale and Woolf Works in Brisbane, Australia.
June was an incredibly hot month this year in London and dancers were feeling it ! The pins were out for class which led to some great style in the studio.
Always on the lookout for a magic beauty fixer and this year I discovered Charlotte Tilburys ‘Magic foundation’, which really evens out my skin tone ! I told anyone who listened - even ‘Grazia’ magazine heard me!
Darcey was one of the first ballerinas I saw live on stage and she made a huge impression on me. She has worked a lot with the Royal this season and its lovely to have her around again - I catch myself staring at her in the lift! Although she doesn’t dance anymore she hasn’t lost her grace and presence, I feel like she could step straight back onto stage.
Eric sadly left The Royal Ballet Company last season. He had a wonderful energy and charisma on stage that will be sadly missed. I wish him all the best for the next move in his career.
A dancer’s life can be very tough, from the long hours to the pain you put your body through, a fan really shows you that it’s all worth it. I sometimes wonder where I’d be without the (your) support, the cards and gifts at stage door, the messages on social media, and general love.
Here’s a message to you guys -
Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, your support pushes me to carry on with this website, it’s so appreciated, much love, Olivia xxxxx
My dream machine this year ! Keeps you lengthened while toning your muscles.
Always have a Huel in my ballet bag. A great source of carbs, protein and vits when a sandwich isn’t enough !
To find out more..
I have been suffering with acute achilles tendonitis for over 3 years and have always just coped and danced with pretty awful pain. This year I decided to take the time to give rehab and treatment a chance and tackle the problem. It took 4 months which has been the longest I have ever been off in my whole career. I’m not patient so it was tough and frustrating. However it was ultimately rewarding as the pain subsided and the injury seems to have healed. I am so glad I took the advice of physiotherapists and experts.
These Costumes are from the ballet Diamonds in George Balanchine’s ‘Jewels’, absolutely beautiful.
Kenneth MacMillan is one of the greatest choreographers to have ever lived. His powerfully dramatic ballets,(Requiem, Mayerling, Manon to name a few) exemplify the choreographer's ingenuity of dramatic storytelling. Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Scottish Ballet and The Royal Ballet, came together this year to commemorative the 25th anniversary of his death. I adore his work and alway feel very privileged to dance in his Ballets.
My new favourite jewellery shop this year !
They’ve got some gorgeous leotards in their range!
A classic ballet that is shown by most ballet companies around Christmas time. Us dancers slightly roll our eyes when we know we’ve got 30 shows of a glitter fest to do but there’s a part of us that loves it as it’s such a happy ballet and nothing gets you more in the mood for Christmas than a show of The Nutcracker!
My skin saviour for after shows! m.origins.co.uk/
They are so pretty and have been both popular in the studio and catwalk alike.
Quatre-quarts ballet store
A great ballet store based in Japan that has been so supportive this year. Check out their great range of ballet t- shirts and leotards !
A fantastic photographer and friend, Rick Guest has a couple of great books. Perfect for any ballet fan on their coffee table ! Go to the link to purchase ..
These slippers are my go to luxury item in between rehearsals.
Trendsetter- Jeremy Scott for Moschino
His collection this year was hugely ballet inspired, I loved the dirty punk edge he brought to the style.
These costumes from ballet - Untouchables are super cool. Designed by Holly Waddington.
Vadim Muntagirov’s nickname ... the name says it all !
X marks the spot- accupunture ( See what I did there ?!?! )
Accupuncture my best friend for the last couple of months !
Weleda skin food
If it’s good enough for Victoria Beckham, it’s good enough for me !
My favourite colour this year. Makes me feel happy and positive.
The legend that is Zen. It was her last season this year as a principal with The Royal Ballet Company. The kindest and most stylish ballerina out there, will be sadly missed.
I hope you enjoyed my round-up of 2017. Please comment with any wishes for 2018, I’m all ears!
Michael Jackson is the reason I dance today ! He was the artist who opened my eyes to ‘a performance’, I watched his videos on repeat in front of the tv and learnt all the steps to his dance routines, (‘Beat It’ was my favourite) ! Even today when I watch him dance, I still can’t get over his technique, he is far better than the professional dancers behind him. Every movement is crisp, clean and very musical. But what I’ve discovered recently is that he’s my fashion idol too ! He has a masculine look paired with such flamboyance, it’s super fun and very confident. His clumpy shoes with a load of sparkle and then a simple white tee. MJ at his best.
I’ve always raved about how much I love my costume from Orlando, Woolf Works !!! Now I know why !
It’s that time of the year again .. The Nutcracker ! It’s a mammoth of a production with so many involved. We rehearse individually our dance roles ( Arabian, for example ) 3 weeks prior to the ‘Full Call’. A full call is a run of the whole ballet with all dancers involved. Because there are so many shows, we have many different roles to dance. For example one night I will do Lead Flower the next, Arabian...
I wanted to give you an insight into what happens around the sides of the studio ! If we are not in the scene we very rarely just sit and watch, we are constantly multitasking. The ballet master for this production is Christopher Carr, and we are intently listening to his corrections, counts and general humour. There are often differences of opinion (is the arm up on 7 or 6 for example) Christopher always has the final say.
There are spoilers !
Annette and Fumi sewing pointe shoes. We go through so many shoes it’s a great chance to catch up on the sewing !
Frankie taking time to go through her pointe shoes to see which ones are best for her rehearsal ( soft, hard etc )
You will see Sian our Ballet Mistress, giving corrections, teaching steps to new members or students, while the rehearsal is still going to let the full call run smoothly without too many stops.
There are a huge amount of props and sets involved with The Nutcracker. Sarah, one of our Heads of Stage management, is here to make sure every prop is in the right place at the right time. You would be suprised how many props are used for just two acts, from a Drosselmeyer party trick to a simple tea light on a table.
For full calls and most rehearsals, we have our wonderful conductors keep an eye on tempo and cues.. VITAL for any successful production ! Here is Paul Murphy & Barry Wordsworth.
Lukas playing Sudoko and drinking ginger beer while the ladies from Mirlitons are on.
Romany and Joshua having a quick bite outside the studio, it can be quite hot and chaotic in the studio. Nice to break away for 5.
Gemma watching intently while releasing her calves with a roller.
Tom sitting on a roller.
Lara in her own little world, watching 3 different roles at the same time while marking the steps herself !
Liberty, a student from White Lodge, writing down notes after her run of party scene !
David working out his doll box before rehearsing !
Tristan taking time to stretch before his dance section.
Ollie talking with Paul.
Ollie has worked with the Royal Ballet Company for over 52 years !! He is an extra in this ballet and has done this ballet since it opened 30 years ago ( I asked him ) when I see Ollie with his iconic t shirts, I know it’s Christmas!!! A legend.
Gary with his Drosselmeyer cloak on, resting before his next entrance.
Students from White Lodge, watching ( very cutely I might add ) Act 1. Here is Layla with her little shoe off !
There are a couple of shoe changes for the ladies in Act 1. Here is Natalie swapping from character to pointe shoes.