I am delighted to announce that to Celebrate our 3rd Birthday we will be releasing a second *exclusive* collection of ballet skirts this month.
We Are Artists Designed by Alice II will go online on sunday 20 th October.
(With a little styling from Designed by Alice. Naturally!)
American dancer Deanna Pearson has just begun her first professional season with Staatsballet Berlin. I was interested to know how she has made the transition from student to professional: With particular focus on the mental changes she has began to make in how she now 'sees' herself as a dancer.
It is actually hard to believe that I have already been dancing and working at Staatsballett Berlin for more than a month now, all of the new sights and experiences have made the time fly! Each day I continue to appreciate how lucky I am to have been given this wonderful opportunity to be a part of the company, and to be able to do what I love for a living. Of course, although the people at Staatsballett Berlin and my family and friends have made my transition from student to professional a great deal smoother, stepping into the professional ballet world has brought many changes and adjustments that have challenged me both as a person and as an artist. Moving from the US was exciting but also exhausting, but I can now proudly say that I have settled in to my first apartment all on my own. At the company, not only have I been lucky enough to be able to take class everyday surrounded by brilliant dancers, but have also been able to be a part of many rehearsals. Coming directly from school, I am of course accustomed to daily classes and rehearsals, but I have discovered that once you are a member of a professional company many aspects of these routine events are different. Class in the morning is shorter than what I was used to having as a student, and I have begun to notice that the emphasis is less on perfecting technique and more on getting one's body warm and ready for rehearsals as well as extending one's individual artistic abilities. As part of expressing one's individuality in class, the usual simple uniform of leotards and tights I am accustomed to coming from school transforms into endless combinations of colorful leotards, tights, warm ups, and wonderful skits - Designed by Alice! Additionally, in a company such as Staatsballett Berlin, classes are quite large and it therefore becomes essential to find your own space and rhythm in taking class while respecting the other dancers around you. My rehearsal experience has also evolved as I stepped into the professional world; surrounded by the rest of the corps de ballet, it is not only important to know each step precisely and to be able to execute it correctly, but to know how your position relates to that of those around you and to the overall formation of the corps at each point in the piece. Thus, company rehearsals so far have proven to test both my physical as well as mental ability and speed. These differences in company life while challenging have been wildly enjoyable for me, although I would definitely view my highlight of my first month at Staatsballett Berlin as being able to dance in the opening season gala, an experience I will truly never forget. With all the changes moving from student to professional, what I realized is not at all affected is that feeling of stepping out onto the stage, hearing the music, and surrendering to the complete bliss that is performing live onstage. Whatever other challenges may lay ahead as I continue to adjust to company life, I know that I will be able to continue to learn each day about what it truly means to be a professional and an artist.
'Before' Audition photographs by Vihao Pham
'After' Professional Photographs styled with and by Designed by Alice
at Staatsballet Berlin
(with a little styling from Designed by Alice. Naturally!)
A 2013 graduate of the Royal Ballet School, Australian Danielle Muir has just begun her first professional season with Staatsballet Berlin.
I was interested to know how she has made the transition from student to professional: With particular focus on the mental changes she has began to make in how she now 'sees' herself.
So how has your first month been?
My first month with Staatsballet Berlin has been both enjoyable and exhausting. It's mentally tiring trying to learn so much repertoire. However its fun once I know what I'm doing and I get to perform.
Everybody has been really friendly and welcoming which has made the transition much easier and it's such a nice change from school.
I feel more settled in now but of course there is a lot I have to learn and I'm still finding my place. So far overall it's been a really enjoyable experience and I'm very happy in this company!
That's great to hear. I remember how exhausting it can be, there is just so much repertoire to learn and so fast too!
How is it 'nicer than school'?!
I've found that it's a lot nicer than school because I have so much more freedom.
At school we are all in the same uniform and being taught to be the same, but in the company I can really be an individual and feel a lot more relaxed and free when I'm dancing.
I am also more in charge of my own body now. In school I was told when I had to push through pain, when I had to work my hardest and when I should rest. Whereas now I can really listen to my body and I know when I can push myself and when I need to take it easy.
I feel like I will be able to develop myself much further as an artist now that I am in the professional world.
Listening to yourself and working with your own body is a great to key to success and fulfilling your own potential.
It's for this same reason as a 'designer' I like to create things for individuals, and the artists that we are: to remind us visually that we are each different and have our own talents and capabilities!
Did you enjoy being styled for the shoot ?!
It's always difficult when you first enter a company, as you do feel somewhat scrutinised. I remember always thinking really carefully about what I should wear, until one day I just thought I'd wear what I wanted, and I suddenly had confidence that also transcended into my dancing.
I absolutely loved being styled for the shoot! Being new to the company, I haven't come out of my shell yet and done things the way I would if I was around close friends. I've always been really shy and so it takes me a while to get comfortable somewhere. But I really love fashion and all things bright and colourful so I would like to have more fun with what I wear to class and bring my own style into the studio. Another thing that comes with being new is I still don't own much dancewear apart from my old school leotards. So hopefully as time goes on I can build up more of a collection so I have more options each day!
So it sounds like the *exclusive collection of Designed by Alice ballets skirts, like the one you wore in the shoot, is right up your street then!
I hope you will enjoy looking back on this interview when you are an established professional ballerina, and so I have one final question for right now, at the beginning of your journey. What are your ambitions for the future?!
My ultimate goal is to be a Principal Ballerina. I have always dreamed of dancing big roles like Juliet, Odette/Odile, Aurora, Kitri, etc. So for now I will try and learn as much as I can and develop myself as a dancer and an artist and keep working hard so that one day I will hopefully get to dance these roles and many more!
We hope to one day see you dancing them too!
'Before' Audition photographs by Johan Persson
at the Royal Ballet School
'After' Professional Photographs styled with and by Designed by Alice
at Staatsballet Berlin
I am currently working with Staatsballet Berlin.
So I know how it feels to be a dancer:
I design things from experience and daily observation!
The 'Alice skirts' all have a black stretch herringbone ribbon which is a tribute to the Degas ballerinas of our heritage.
I wanted to acknowledge tradition and recreate something 'classic'!
I used to hate ballet skirts!
I became so exasperated looking for the perfect cut I had to make my own.
I am now obviously a complete convert.
I have about 12 skirts.
EVERYTHING on Designed by Alice is handmade.
Either my me or two very lovely 'makers' in the UK.
You can be assured that everthing is made to the highest quality by people who care greatly about what they produce.
I like to think that I am not just offering a product, either as a dancer or a 'business'.
I think about everthing I do in great detail, but ultimately what I produce comes from inspiration and a complete passion to create something purposeful that is both good and special.
(Ask the people who know me ... they know how inspired and then hyper active I can become.)
When I am not dancing,
or having to sew my pointe shoes,
or doing businessy style accounts,
(or any of the above)
I like to make little beings!
I love to draw.
In addition to my work on www.deisgnedbyalice.co.uk I have also done some illustration for brands, educational books, a charity event and I am currently working on a commission series of six books for children.
I also get very inspired collaborating with other people.
Dicussing, probleming solving and creating things with another questioning mind is one of my absolutely favourite things to do ( apart from dancing, obviously!)
I don't profess to being a brilliant photographer, but all the images you see on my website are mine.
I find it helps having a dancer behind the camera as well as in front, we speak the same language, understanding both the code of aesthics that we aspire to as dancers and able to communicate direction clearly.
It's alwasy fun on a shoot!
And after all of that I feel I should say that I often feel a bit like a one man band ... and so I always really appreciate the support I receive,
in whatever form it may be!
Haley is a Dancer at Staatsballet Berlin and was one of the brilliant models on the Summer 2013 shoot. We were having such a good time splashing about in the lake that day that is was impossible to resist doing a solo shoot with Miss Schwan.
Swan like name and nature, in this particular shoot anyway! I hope you enjoy the photos, and of course getting to know a bit more about Haley herself!
When and where did you start dancing and have you always wanted to dance?
'I started dancing when I was about 6 years old. I lived in a small town in Michigan called Howell, and since I was constantly dancing around the house (and pretty much EVERYWHERE ELSE) my mother decided to take me to watch a recital of the local dance studio.
I was mesmerised and immediately enrolled in as many different classes as possible.
Initially I Didn't I didn't like ballet at all ( that was until much later on.) Instead threw myself into the jazz, tap and hip-hop. Then before I knew it I was going to competitions at least once a month!
When I was 10 years old, I decided to change studios and in the process I discovered my love for dance. As it was there that had the pleasure of working with teachers who inspired me to dance with heart and soul : It made me understand that no matter what, dance would always be in my life and my way to express myself.
One day my future mentor and friend, Sergey Rayevskiy, walked into the studio as our new ballet teacher. He blew me away with his hard-core russian style classes and mentality. Before that moment I had not been exposed to the disciplinary side of dance and where some saw him as merciless, I was completely fascinated.
I started taking extra classes with him on the weekends and after a year or so he encouraged me to audition for a ballet boarding school in Washington, D.C. The Kirov Academy of Ballet. When I auditioned I was accepted to the three week long summer program and from there into the school. Before attending this summer program ballet was not my favourite discipline and so parents were shocked when their 12 year old daughter begged them to move 500 miles away to specialize in it! However I am lucky to say I have very supportive and trusting parents: They let me go and I am forever thankful for it.
I spent the next 4 years studying at the Kirov Academy before having the honor of being accepted into the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, and so I moved to Russia!
After two final years of intense training I auditioned and joined the Staatsballet Berlin.'
If You weren’t a dancer what would you be?!
'When I was still living in Michigan, I discovered many other interests through my dance classes and the friends that I made there. In the only time that wasn't occupied by dance classes I took singing lessons and was involved in many plays with the Community Theater of Howell (one of my first plays being a theatrical production of The Hobbit ). Although dancing was always my main focus, I knew that I wanted to be some kind of performer.
If I wasn't a dancer, I am not exactly sure what I would've ended up doing. I am very interested in studying psychology, nutrition, photography and languages; and anything that allows me to travel and explore new places and cultures excites me.'
With such a busy schedule what do you do to relax?
'When I have a bit of time to relax, I like to spend time with friends, read, draw, bake, watch tv, I am a bit of a junkie! I'm also currently trying to teach myself to play the guitar. With the emphasis on the trying!
If we have a day off and I have energy I love to bike around Berlin with my friend Mari. We ride around singing "You & I" by Ingrid Michaelson until we get tired, then we sit in a park with a frozen yogurt and joke around.'
'I have a pretty eclectic taste when it comes to music, but if I had to choose a decade, it would be the 60s for sure. Otherwise, I'll listen to just about anything ranging from Joni Mitchell to The Doors, Chopin to Eminem.'
...and books or films?
'As I said before, I am quite a TV junkie. I don't always have the time to sit down and watch a whole movie and so I prefer to watch an episode of something when I eat or as I am sewing my pointe shoes. At the moment, some of my favorite tv shows include Game of Thrones, The Office, Weeds, Spartacus, and Entourage. '
I love to read, and one of my prized possessions is my collection of books at home. Since I have never stayed in one place long enough to carry more than a few books with me, spending the last four years in Berlin has given me the opportunity to gather quite an assortment of books. At the moment my apartment is rather small, but in my next place I look forward to buying myself a big bookshelf to display all of them. I am a big fan of Jim Morrsion from The Doors, so a lot of my books were favorites of his - ranging from poetry to Jack Kerouac. I also really enjoy reading biographies of musicians and other artists.
And Now , of course the most important thing... ?!
I know you have been wearing DBA Skirts for a number of years now, so I would like to hear the most wonderful skirt testimonial!!
'I love skirts Designed by Alice not only because they are so comfortable, but also because the patterns are so unique. When you spend more hours in a day in a leotard and tights, you often feel like you have very limited options. But with Alice's skirts, you can easily spice up any outfit and finally take out some of the leotards that were hidden in the back of your locker!'
n(Myth & Legend / European Myth & Legend) German myth a female water sprite.
The Neck/Nixie (German: Nix/Nixe/Nyx) are shapeshifting water spirits who usually appear in human form. The spirit has appeared in the myths and legends of all Germanic peoples in Europe. Although in recent times such creatures have usually been depicted as human in shape (albeit in many cases shapeshifting), often as a female river mermaid.
This one was found in Wannsee/ Berlin.
Dancer Patricia Zhou. Photo : Designed by Alice
The rubbish that I had to wade through in my locker at the end of last season was particularly distressing and it got me thinking.
I often wonder why I seem to still be so attached to the leotards I have had since I was 12. They don’t fit any more (fairly understandable) but somehow I just can’t throw them away. I tell myself it’s because they could be useful, either in an emergency (or for the fabric) but I think there is part of me who just can’t discard what they represent. The memories.
I have the same problem with legwarmers, horrible synthetic warm ups, charity t-shirts that are only distinguishable by their uniform greyness, and one particular dodgy tutu that seems to follow me where ever I travel.
IF our dance wear is worn, appreciated(?!) and used every day AND we know from experience that it will be saved/ lent it to friends for years to come THEN
Why shouldn’t we wear artwork in the studio as well as create it?
So that’s what I’ve done.
This weekend I will launch an heirloom collection of hand painted silk ballet skirts.
Made to the classic Designed by Alice specification with a lush silk and vibrant paints.
I am completely in love with these skirts.
I hope you will be equally excited.
Please sign up to my mailing list if you would like to be informed when the collection goes live.