Marissa is the style and beauty editor at Dance Magazine, having worked as a beauty editor for publications like Teen Vogue and InStyle. She graduated from Rider University with a BFA in dance and journalism, training at the Princeton Ballet School during her studies. She has also danced with The Rock School and South Jersey Ballet Theater.
As a member of American Ballet Theatre for more than 20 years—and a principal for 16—Gillian Murphy has danced her fair share of iconic roles. Yet what transforms each of her performances from entertaining to unforgettable is not just her rock-solid technique or wow-worthy turns, but her artistic approach.
She recently told Dance Magazine about the work that goes into her seemingly effortless portrayals of everyone from a calculating Gamzatti to a head-over-heels Juliet.
Spending Time in the Corps Made Her a Better Principal
"For something like Giselle or Juliet, I'm so familiar with the stories from dancing all of the other roles as I came up through the ranks. I already know that there's going to be a lifetime of trying to delve into those characters and find nuances."
Getting Into The Character's Skin Takes Research
Murphy channeling Lizzie Borden. Photo by Marty Sohl, courtesy ABT.
"I like to go into dramatic roles with a sense about who the character is. I did the most research for Lizzie Borden in Fall River Legend. I went to Fall River, Massachusetts, and got some books to read about her. That character is not about the steps. It's really about who she is and what she's going through."
"Once I have a general sense of who the character is, the next step is understanding where the tricky bits are in the choreography. And then, it's playing with my imagination and perhaps having an internal dialogue."
"My aim is not to create a stage persona, but to really immerse myself in the character in an authentic way. I want to channel their feelings through my understanding of that experience."
Her Approach To Movement Isn't What It Used to Be
"I've learned that doing everything full force at every moment isn't particularly interesting. You want to work as hard as you can at all times, but I've found that it can be good to pull back and breathe. Having those parts makes the dynamic moments resonate more."
She Brings Her Personal History to Her Roles
Murphy in The Dream. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT.
"I definitely pull from my own experiences of falling in love or suffering loss. But there's also my imagination, which has been cultivated by reading, going to museums and live theater and concerts."
Her Ideal Partnership Is a Silent One
"With my partner, if we can purely respond to each other's characters through dance in the moment, I find that ideal. There's no need to discuss anything because it's really a physical body language, and I can read and feel what he's conveying to me. I want to be totally immersed in the live music and the character or the style, and just see where it goes."
She Never Stops Questioning Her Choices
"In a long season or a role I've done countless times, it's vital to keep it fresh and rethink things in rehearsal, but also to just go with the flow emotionally. If the dancer is inspired, that comes across to the audience that something special is happening."
Given how regimented the Radio City Rockettes are, from their precise kick lines to their Christmas Spectacular season show schedule (which can include up to four performances a day), it's no surprise they're just as strict with their skincare routines. After all, sweating in stage makeup six days a week can cause dryness and breakouts for even the most easygoing skin types. We caught up with Rockettes Alyssa Lemons and Nina Linhart for all of their tried-and-true skincare picks.
We're all for Thanksgiving, or really any holiday that let's us spend the whole day eating. But we're also here for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping that follows it. And while a flat screen TV or designer sneakers might be tempting, they're not quite as practical as stocking up on tights so you can finally throw out all those pairs with holes.
Thankfully, many of our favorite dance brands have jumped on board with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. And bonus: You don't even have to leave your house to shop them!
Earlier this week, New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck gave us some major onstage makeup inspiration while attending an offstage event. While walking the red carpet at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund gala, Peck's beauty look was still perfectly suited for the ballet with her top knot hairstyle and stage-worthy red lip. Peck's makeup artist for the night, Daniel Duran, shared his exact breakdown on the look, working exclusively with beauty brand Chantecaille. So, whether you're in need of a waterproof brow pencil, volumizing mascara or long-lasting red lip this Nutcracker season, we've got you covered.
Classwear has come a long way in terms of pairing style with practicality. But while designs like mesh inserts and bold prints can work all year round, other elements lend themselves to particular seasons. Case in point: velvet. The fuzzy fabric has made its way from the runway to real life, and now, even dance rehearsal. Thicker than your average cotton or lycra leotards, velvet's extra cozy material and luxe look makes it perfect for the cooler months ahead. Shop our top picks, and get ready for a barrage of leotard compliments at the barre.
With limited space for luggage on the tour bus, Justin Timberlake dancer Natalie Gilmore makes sure her beauty routine can pull double duty. "Most of the stuff I use day to day I also use onstage," she says, adding that the dancers do their own hair and makeup for every show. "They give us a lot of freedom to use what we want, and I really enjoy getting to play with new products and experiment with different looks." That same freedom she has with her look carries over into her performance. "There's a lot of freestyle in the show," Gilmore says. "We have certain places we need to be, but we're able to map out how we want things to flow—I have a lot of fun with it."
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With cooler weather finally here, it's time to talk warm-ups. And while your dancewear drawer is probably overflowing with oversized sweaters, leggings and enough leg warmers to outfit the whole class, warm-up boots are often forgotten. To keep your feet and ankles cozy in between rehearsals, we rounded up dance warm-up boots that suit every style.
Bloch Inc. Printed Warm-up Bootie
via Bloch Inc.
Created by Irina Dvorovenko and Max Beloserkovsky, this collection comes in a variety of tie dye, floral and even butterfly prints.
Dance and high-fashion collaborations are always something we get excited about, whether it's New York City Ballet's annual Fall Fashion Gala or Sergei Polunin's campaign with Balmain. The latest dancer-designer dream team comes courtesy of Paris Fashion Week, where Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri and L-E-V co-founder Sharon Eyal joined forces for some serious runway magic.
Longer ballet skirts are having a major moment. We've seen them popping up in the Instagram studio clips of dance fashionistas around the world—from American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston to The Royal Ballet's Beatriz Stix-Brunell to Berlin State Ballet's Iana Salenko. And with cooler weather on the way, we have a feeling we'll be seeing even more calf-length skirts.
Beyond being trendy, long ballet skirts give any studio ensemble a sophisticated prima ballerina vibe (hi, Natalia Makarova). Try out one of these long skirt options.
Joining all of the fashion month festivities is Sergei Polunin—but you won't catch him walking down the runway. The dancer- turned-actor is dipping his toes into the modeling world as part of the campaign for Balmain's Fall/Winter 2018 collection in designs by Olivier Rousteing (known for his embellished creations favored by celebrities like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez).
Back to school is just around the corner, and that means back to your regular dance routine, too. Whether you're looking for a new bag that's strictly for the studio or an option that will work for whatever the day throws your way, we've got you covered. Scroll through for our top five picks.
Augusta Glitter Backpack
via Discount Dance Supply
We're of the belief that you can never have too much sparkle (unless we're talking loose glitter, which we all have a love-hate relationship with). But when glitter comes in backpack form, there's no danger of being covered in it for weeks to come, which is exactly why we're putting this bag on our wish list. Also available in silver and pink, the drawstring backpack features a magnetic top flap and a zip-up pocket in the front designed to keep your smelly dance shoes separate from the rest of your belongings.
In case you missed it, our favorite actress/dance fangirl Jennifer Garner hit the studio this weekend to brush up on her technique (stars, they really are just like us). And the end result might be even better than Garner's #TutuTuesday posts. At the request of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, Garner took to her Instagram story to participate in Lil Buck's #GoinInCirclesChallenge.
For most dancers, the costumes act as the finishing touch. At MOMIX, however, the costumes are just the starting point. In order for the company of dancer-illusionists to become marigolds or stars onstage, founder and artistic director Moses Pendleton sets his movement to the costumes (designed by Phoebe Katzin), letting the sometimes-unconventional designs shape the finished piece.
So, what's it like working on a piece like Paper Trails, where the dancers are costumed in paper that later transforms into a 12-foot dress? We spoke with Pendleton and MOMIX dance captain Sarah Nachbauer to learn all of the details of how they get their concepts from the studio to the stage—and all of the costume mishaps in between.
In the fashion world, being part of the Pirelli Calendar is a career milestone. Supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss have all posed for some of the world's most celebrated photographers in the annual calendar, and now, ballet is making its mark. For the 2019 edition, Pirelli announced American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland as one of the four featured women, which also includes model Gigi Hadid and actresses Laetitia Casta and Julia Garner. Fellow ABT dancer, soloist Calvin Royal III and Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin are joined by designer Alexander Wang in the roles of supportive boyfriend/mentor.
When you spend more time at the studio than your actual house, making sure you have everything you need throughout the day can be tough. Obviously, shoes and endless amounts of toe tape get first priority, but what else should you be sure to keep in your bag? From dance emergency must-haves to on-the-go beauty essentials, these are the items we're adding to our dance bag, stat.
Body Wrappers Pointe Shoe Ribbon Kit
via Body Wrappers
Whether you need to make a quick adjustment to your ribbons during class or you find yourself with downtime between rehearsals to catch up on sewing shoes, this kit has everything you need: 2 1/2 yards of stretch ribbon, 20 inches of elastic, 2 needles, a spool of extra strong thread, safety pins and a stitch ripper in one small tin.
Given that almost every ballet performance requires your hair to be in a bun, it can be tricky to master Romeo and Juliet's Italian Renaissance hairstyles. Not for ABT wig and makeup supervisor Rena Most and wig and makeup assistant Jill Haley. The duo is responsible for all three hairstyles Juliet wears onstage, following the exact looks used in the company premiere of the Sir Kenneth MacMillan ballet in 1985. Check out Most and Haley in action, below, and keep scrolling for the step-by-step breakdown.
Planning to spend the majority of your summer sweating it out in the studio? Don't worry, you're not alone. And while you're definitely going to want to save the warmups for the winter, you can still accessorize your studio look without adding bulk, thanks to the always-in-style ballet skirt. From bright florals to washed out pastels and wild prints, we rounded up our favorite short (and a few long!) ballet skirts for summer.
AinslieWear Limoncello Wrap Skirt
If you can't spend your summer in the Mediterranean under actual lemon trees, this skirt is a solid backup. Plus, it gives us serious Beyonce "Lemonade" vibes, which will help you feel more fierce and less sweaty-mess in class (hopefully).
When Rachel Hamrick was in the corps of Universal Ballet in Seoul, her determination to strengthen her flexibility turned into a side hobby that would eventually land her a new career. "I was in La Bayadere for the first time, and I was the first girl out for that arabesque sequence in The Kingdom of the Shades," she says. "I had the flexibility, but I was wobbly because I wasn't stretching in the right way. That's when I first started playing around with the idea of the Flexistretcher. It was tied together then, so it was definitely more makeshift," she says with a laugh, "But I trained with it to help me get the correct alignment so that I would have the strength to sustain the whole act."
Nearly 15 years later, Hamrick is running her own business, complete with an ever-growing product line and her FLX training method—all because of her initial need to make it through 38 arabesques.
Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).
Subscription box services have quickly gained a dedicated following among the fashion and fitness set. And while we'd never say no to a box with new jewelry or workout wear to try, we've been waiting for the subscription model to make its way to the dance world.
Enter barre + bag, a new service that sends a curated set of items to your door each season. Created by Faye Morrow Bell and her daughter Tyler, a student in the pre-professional ballet program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, this just-launched service offers dance, lifestyle and wellness finds in four themed bags each year: Spring Performance, Summer Study, Back-to-Studio and Nutcracker. Since all the products are specifically made for dancers, everything barre + bag sends you is something you'll actually use, (Plus, it all comes in a bag instead of a box—because what dancer can ever have enough bags?).
barre + bag's Summer Collection