As television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars bring the art form to the mainstream, a revival of dance-inspired fashion is hitting the runways and streets.
Dance and fashion are about aesthetically celebrating the human form or molding it into an ideal of beauty and grace. There isn't much difference between sky-high stilettos and block-toed pointe shoes.
In spring ready-to-wear collections, 3.1 Phillip Lim sent models wearing palettes of pink, nude and white down the runway with tightly wound buns, while Diane Von Furstenberg's plissé wrap gowns echoed ballerina skirts caught mid-pirouette. Marc Jacobs drew heavily from the muscle-warming layers dancers don before classes and performances, evoking grace and movement if not tutus and pink slippers.
Beyond New York City, Milan and Paris, the exercise-inspired, body-conscious trend popularized by spandex mecca American Apparel is back in the spotlight, joined by knitted fabrics, shrugs and leggings tempered to skew a bit more Olivier Theyskens than Olivia Newton-John.
Hayley Cushman, owner of the eponymous, budget-friendly Hayley's boutique in Raleigh, has also seen ballerina-esque wrap dresses, off the shoulder necklines and one-piece rompers gain popularity locally. Cushman, who eschews denim in the summer in favor of bright prints on lightweight fabrics, has an easy formula for stocking the shelves of her Five Points store: "I just buy what I like," she said.
Virginia Cromwell, an intern for Durham's summer-long American Dance Festival and a dance major at Cornell University, has a similarly simple fashion philosophy when it comes to her clothing choices in and out of dance class.
"Most any trend you see in dance comes out of necessity, and as a dancer I feel like my relationship with fashion is different," Cromwell said. "For example, I received a lot of compliments on a pair of dance pants I had to tie at the ankles because they were so long, and I've just kept them that way."
Alyssa Schoeneman, also an ADF intern, notes that the knee socks, biker shorts, headbands and neon colors she often sees in dance class can be as much of an expression of individuality as comfort.
"In some dance styles, like hip-hop, it's as much about the clothes you're wearing as the movements you're doing," Schoeneman said. "For me personally, it's all layers, all the time."
Both Cromwell (who, when asked which ADF performances she's most excited about, gushed "All of them!" before begrudgingly naming Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and H. Art Chaos) and Schoeneman are busy this summer promoting performances by Pilobolus, Shen Wei Dance Arts and the Mark Morris Dance Group, leaving them little time to explore the Triangle's shopping scene.
So we brought the clothes to them near their offices at Duke University's East Campus, where hundreds of modern dance students have taken up residence for the summer. Along with fellow ADF staffers and dancers Nicolle Wasserman and Jennifer Antonosanti, Cromwell and Shoeneman took dance-inspired, summery clothes from Triangle boutiques and designers for a twirl.
Assistance on fashion shoots: Belem Destefani. Location: The Ark on Duke University's East Campus