Fashion and ballet have enjoyed an ever-increasing relationship over the past five years. New York City Ballet has actively commissioned costumes from high-end designers like Valentino, Dries Van Noten, and Jason Wu for the past few of their fall seasons. Dancers are starring in campaigns for fashion companies like Cole Haan and MM.LaFleur. And brands like Opening Ceremony and Viktor & Rolf have used dancers in their runway shows, the former even going so far as to use a ballet performance in lieu of a traditional catwalk.
Isabella Boylston, principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, has quite possibly been one of the most visible ballerinas in the fashion world. A relationship with the designers behind Cushnie at Ochs (they designed her wedding dress) and multiple appearances on the pages and websites of fashion magazines (including Allure), has made her somewhat of a fashion darling. And with her newest project — directing Ballet Sun Valley, a two-day performance series and educational workshop in her home state of Idaho from August 22nd to 24th — Boylston continues to meld ballet and fashion by collaborating with designers Reid & Harriet.
If you follow any ballet dancers on Instagram, you may have already seen Reid & Harriet’s work. This summer, they designed two rainbow-colored bathing suit/leotards that launched during Pride Month and could be seen modeled by some of the finest ballet dancers in the business, including Boylston. In fact, one of the suits —the “Bella” — was named after her. (You can still buy the suits on their website.)
Ballet Sun Valley is Boylston’s first foray into directing, and an opportunity for her to both stretch her leadership wings and bring top-notch dancers, teachers (some of the performers will be teaching class to area children on the 23rd), and choreography to her home state of Idaho, a place that doesn’t normally come to mind as a big ballet destination. “I had always thought that I would really love to direct a show of my own and, a few years ago, I was back home in Sun Valley and saw they had built this gorgeous amphitheater that wasn’t there when I was a kid,” says Boylston. “And I just thought, This would be the perfect place for a really world class ballet show.” And world-class is an understatement in this case. Boylston has brought on some of the best dancers from around the world — many of which are her close friends — performing dances by some of the best, including Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, and Justin Peck. “Everyone participating are people whom I have personal relationships with and love as people as well as dancers,” says Boylston. “There are no divas on this tour, just cool people.”