John Minden or Amanda Tindal
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A NEW LINE OF LEOTARDS INSPIRED BY RENOWNED BALANCHINE BALLETS TO GO ON SALE SEPTEMBER
Gaynor Minden, Inc. and The George Balanchine Trust team up to create unique studio wear that conveys Balanchine’s legacy
NEW YORK CITY Soon every ballet student can feel as if she’s dancing for George Balanchine. Starting September 1, dancers around the world will have the opportunity to buy practice clothes inspired by the distinctive leotards used in landmark ballets choreographed by Balanchine.
The clothes are the result of an unusual collaboration between The George Balanchine Trust and Gaynor Minden, Inc., a New York City-based producer and marketer of fine ballet apparel. Established in 1993, Gaynor Minden, Inc. made its name with durable, comfortable toe shoes, stylish leotards, silky tights and other dancewear geared to amateur and professional dancers. Gaynor Minden, Inc. will donate a portion of the sales proceeds from its new line of Balanchine-inspired leotards to The George Balanchine Foundation.
“They’re great-looking designs, and they definitely represent some of Balanchine’s greatest ballets,” said Eliza Minden, President of Gaynor Minden, Inc. “These are some of the greatest ballets of the 20th century,” said John Minden, Gaynor Minden, Inc. Chief Executive Officer. “They influenced scores of other choreographers and are sought after by ballet companies around the world. Even the leotards that are used in these ballets -- Mr. Balanchine’s ingenious transformation of studio attire -- have become iconic.”
It took a year and a half to produce the new Balanchine line of leotards to everyone’s satisfaction. The creative team included Ms. and Mr. Minden; Gaynor Minden, Inc. Product Development Manager, Amanda Tindal; Karin von Aroldingen, a Trustee and Repetiteur of The George Balanchine Trust; and Lourdes Lopez, Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation.
The process started with selection of the ballets and examination of archival photos and videos of the leotards. “We picked recent versions of the designs,” said Ms. Minden. “We thought it would be much more exciting and fun if today’s dancer could identify with what she sees on stage.” Ms. Lopez and Ms. von Aroldingen vetted Ms. Minden’s designs. Where necessary, adjustments were made so the final product would be practical for the studio. “These leotards are not historic replicas,” said Ms. Minden. “But they are definitely inspired by the real thing.”
Gaynor Minden, Inc. then sent the final designs to Brazil for manufacture. “Leotard makers are happy to give you yet another spaghetti strap, or yet another V-neck,” said Ms. Minden. “But most manufacturers aren’t used to the degree of specificity we required.” For example, one camisole leotard includes a short, blue-gray chiffon skirt gathered over each hip and accompanied by a matching hair ribbon. One black leotard features thin, gathered straps, an adjustable gathered neckline, a plunging V-neck in the back and a short, black chiffon skirt that’s slightly longer in the rear.
“The hang-tag on the costumes is what’s wonderful for me,” said Ms. Lopez. “Each tag will give the names of the ballets the leotards are based on, the composers, the premiere dates, and something about the choreography. This is part of the history that every dancer belongs to, whether they dance professionally or not. I feel that young dancers today aren’t getting enough of that history.”
“To the extent that our involvement with The George Balanchine Trust can promote and help preserve these ballets, and keep them in front of people, that’s something we want to be doing,” said Mr. Minden.