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checking in on our community photoshoot

Credit: Katie Salerno Photography

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.

Much more than the brief exchange of life updates between two people, checking in is a relational, holistic practice. Whether it is checking in on self’s body, self’s relationship with other/s, self’s work, or self with something else entirely, this process offers a medicinal alternative to being in a world that is constantly ‘checked out.’

An embodied check is directing awareness to the pulsing of your chest when engaged in challenging conversation. It is sensing your interior reactions as you scroll through social media. It is reclaiming beats throughout your day to simply feel your feet on the ground and metabolize residue from past moments and interactions. Most simply, checking in means pausing often to consult your intuition about various directions and choice points. Checking in is a wide-ranging, inclusive practice, meant to be creatively interpreted through and with our bodies. By bringing our bodies and minds presently into our spaces – even our digital spaces – we evoke a more generous form of being. We become better able to register our wholeness in each moment, while also better seeing the wholeness of others.

This then, is my summer self checking in with yours.

In our corner of happenings at Jai-Dee, we recently wrapped up a photoshoot for our e-commerce store launching this fall. This event gave us the perfect opportunity to check in with our company vision and explore how to visually express our sustainability and community values. The collaborative nature of the photoshoot required a flowing form of checking in, each of us offering and receiving contributions with openness and curiosity. The group relished in the slow process of making organic and authentic art together, and the moments captured are a lovely reflection of this co-creation. While most of the photography is in queue for our fall launch, you can join us on instagram for sneak peeks and to learn more about the beautiful artists who contributed.

While ongoing projects at Jai-Dee are feeling lively, my summer is also making room for stillness. Especially here in New England, this bright warmth feels so transient and worth savoring. Perhaps the energy of summer is also motivating you to create and explore, as well as encouraging you to simply be. Maybe these longer days have helped shine light on important holidays of the season, such as Juneteeth and PRIDE month and given you more time to lean into issues that matter to you. As you balance the work of both engaging and unplugging, perhaps your summer self is discovering space for restoration and renewal.

Regardless of where the energy of summer is leading you, my hope is that full embodiment practice is traveling with you, nourishing your relationship to self, others and all your creative pursuits. For me, this means spending a little less time online this summer, ready to back in with news on our launch next season.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

close up black and white photograph of dancer Isabella Boylston resting on her right side smiling with her arms clasped overhead

Credit: Isabella Boylston photographed by Karolina Kuras for Fjord Review

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


Last January, our blog turned towards the sweeping topic of identity. Who we are, how we relate to others, how others relate to us and how we inhabit the world both as individuals and communities, these are inquiries still unfolding in this digital space. With guidance from our beloved guest writers this season, we are discovering a treasure chest of ideas, possibilities and insight.

The stunning dance publication, Fjord Review, creates space for the world of dance to collectively practice such existential contemplation. In Fjord’s first print edition, editor Penelope Ford calls on poet Paul Valery, “But what then is dance, and what can steps say?” The spirit of this inquiry weaves throughout the exquisite pages of Fjord; the magazine’s phenomenal contributors illuminate a world of possibility in response. This publication invites us to deeply appreciate, critique and expand the identity of dance together. You can pick up your own print edition of the beautiful Fjord Review #1 here.

So many thanks to editor Penelope Ford for sharing the story of Fjord Review with our readers.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

What’s in a name

Penelope Ford, editor of Fjord Review

“Fjord Review—fjord, like in Norway?” is sometimes the response I get when introducing the publication. Fair enough, too. Fjord doesn’t have an obvious connection to ballet and dance, our subject, but in part that was by design; when I dreamt up Fjord Review, it was to have an expansive take on dance as an art, and not necessarily subscribe to the tropes of how dance has been represented in the media up until now. The word fjord, which bears some connection to my name, is besides a strong structure in nature. I personally feel the connection between dance and our natural world is worth emphasizing, especially at this fragile time for our planet.

The Spark

Fjord Review was inspired in part by a particular moment, rather than a love of dance in general (although, this obviously I have). I think many balletomanes and dance fans can trace their obsession back to a single performance—a kind of dance epiphany. For me, it was seeing Tanja Liedtke’s “Slight,” a contemporary update on Romantic ballet, “La Sylphide” with a rebellious streak. Performed by perhaps a dozen dancers, it was mischievous, kinaesthetic and buzzing with ideas. It opened a new dimension in dance for me; and it was so powerful, I thought, it ought to be written about.

The tragic epilogue to this story is that Liedtke, on the eve of taking up one of Australia’s highest positions in dance as artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, was struck by a vehicle and killed. Dance is the ephemeral art, this we know. I think, what we hope to achieve with writing about dance is not to define, but rather to capture the human experience of seeing dance, the meaning and truth of it.

The Craft

In 2009, I left my native Australia for Toronto, Canada. I spent my time reading ‘the dance shelves’ at the library and seeing as much dance as possible. Simultaneously, traditional print media started to feel the pinch with the rise of online (free) news sources. The global financial crisis contributed to an ill economic climate. Newspapers started to lay off writers, and specialist dance critics were, alas, among the first to be cut. The writing was on the wall for dance criticism as we knew it. I reached out to a few critics, wondering if they would like to write for a new dance journal called Fjord Review, for a fee I could afford. These writers formed the basis for our online dance archive. I’m pleased to continue to have their vast knowledge and brilliant writing across our pages.

The first online iteration of Fjord was around 2012. We have since gone through a number of redesigns, mostly as my own digital skills came of age (as an independent publisher, I have had and continue to do a lot of ‘upskilling.’) At present we publish about twenty regular dance critics writing from London, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto. Writing about dance is a demanding task, requiring not only talent and an understanding of the field, but an uncommon amount of sacrifice. It is a joy for me to publish the dance criticism I receive because frequently, it astounds me. The best criticism, I find, occupies the curious space between subjectivity and objectivity, it resonates, and it also must have something to say, meaning that it is civic as well as poetic in many instances.

The Evolution

Recently we published Fjord Review #1, a limited-edition print magazine, a collection of dance criticism, feature articles, and interviews, as well as creative photoshoots with some major names in dance. Dance photographer Karolina Kuras has been instrumental in the production of the print magazine. Not only a gifted artist, she’s dedicated and intrepid, as well as generous and kind. The dancers love working with her. The other key to producing the print edition was finding the right editorial designer. Enter Lorenzo Spatocco, who translates ideas across pages in spite of working an ocean and a language apart. Lorenzo, who works in Rome, Italy, also designed our logo. I am so grateful to all our supporters, and thanks especially to Jai-Dee Dancewear for inviting me to contribute to this blog and who is a lead sponsor of the print edition.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

elephants eating leaves under a thatched roof


Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. This massive turnout stimulated the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passages of Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts that same year. It was a hopeful start.

Unfortunately, our mistreatment towards the earth has only increased since that time. Especially with the past thirty years, we have rapidly, persistently and even knowingly marched ourselves into climate catastrophe.

Earth Day is now a global event, and a glance at the ‘gram today certainly suggests worldwide concern for the planet. Social media manipulation and green sheen aside, our hearts may be in the right place. Our behaviors though, those remain in cycles and systems antithetical to the values we are hashtagging. It’s our lack of action that nullifies our well-intentioned hearts.

The earth doesn’t need us to be perfect, but it definitely needs us to be so much better –and being better depends on doing better. Here are a few things I have found worth doing.

Give up the illusion of good

When we insist on engineering a “good” image, we lose touch with the whole picture. We develop blind spots around our failures. Letting our humanity come into vision (in life, work, companies, digital spaces and beyond) is essential to our progress.

Slow the f* down

When I slow down, I am less reflexive. I buy less and consume less. I access discernment and become more intentional in my actions. I am less defensive – more congruent with life around me. If we want to change our behaviors, we have to slow down enough to work with them. I start every morning by reminding myself to slow the f* down.

Listen to The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells.

Brace yourself for a whole lot of truth-telling. This book is a clear, organized “kaleidoscopic accounting of the human costs” associated with the climate crisis we have authored. It is an important, weighty and poetic piece of work.

Cancel Carbon with Reformation

In our greenwashed world, Reformation (carbon neutral since 2015) stands out for taking meaningful action and influencing others to do the same. Their recent “Carbon is Canceled” campaign invites us all to offset carbon by switching to wind energy and by shopping the climate credits available on their site. These are simple, affordable and impactful actions (linked directly on their website) well worth exploring.

Join Earth Day 2019 to Protect our Species

Bees, coral reefs, elephants, giraffes, plants, whales and other endangered and threatened species are the focus of Earth Day 2019 (remember eliminating single use plastic was the 2018 focus? This is a good time to recheck our habits there too!) Visit the Earth Day 2019 Protect our Species campaign to get involved.

Wash laundry with a GuppyFriend® bag

The GuppyFriend® was featured in our post on microplastics last year and it is still the product we recommend for washing leotards and other activewear in. Hopefully, you already own one (sold at Patagonia) but don’t forget to use it! For me, this is a regular habit that reminds me of the daily choices I can make to reduce my harm.

Rewild your heart

We have engineered our landscapes and lives in a way that distances us from the natural world. We forget just how intimately and inextricably connected we are to the web of life. By stepping regularly into nature, we remember all that is worth protecting. Need a little inspiration? Connect with Jessica McCarthy here.

An annual Earth – ish Day is definitely not going to save the planet. As the slogan goes, it’s going to take Earth Day every day. With ongoing, civic participation (that’s us!), we have the power to bring our behaviors, politics and systems into alignment with our values. Our reality is being shaped by the steps we do or do not take. It’s urgent that we take the next step.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

feet standing in nature

Photography Credit: Kitfox Valentín

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


To dance is to converse with both freedom and restraint. For most of us, it’s the freedom that speaks to us first. It’s the freedom that calls us to the path. Too soon though, our bodies, minds and the ecological framework in which dance is nested introduce restriction. Walls are erected, constructing an intricate maze where freedom is still possible, but more obstructed.

Finding freedom within restraint is undeniably part of the art – perhaps even the heart of it. But when we spiral so deeply into the maze that we can’t feel the ground, see the sky or access the field where we first felt free, we know we have given too much up.

Today on our blog, Jessica McCarthy guides us out of the maze and into alchemy.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Change is Constant: An Ode to the Evolution as a Dancer

Jessica McCarthy

“A village, a center, a space within the landscape for artists and curious seekers of something more than what this modern cultural construct has to offer. A place where people come to learn, explore, heal, and grow into themselves then take that back out into the world – a ripple effect, led by example. Vibrant, full of wilderness and wildlife. I see expansive lands. A center for gathering. Minimal, dynamic, flexible spaces made out of the earth. Spaces for artistic residencies and performances – where dancers can connect back to the roots of the body they came from; the elements. A large bonfire space where we dance awake the dream that lays dormant in our spirits as a domesticated version of the wild human lineage we are descended from. To move as a part of the land – to feed and be fed. Shifting the paradigm through movement.”

The excerpt of writing above comes from a letter I wrote to myself at the beginning of a composition and improvisation class during the summer of 2017. The prompt was something along the lines of, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” While I’ve tweaked the answer a bit since the original draft almost 2 years ago, the essence of this vision remains true.

I felt my relationship to dance shifting long before the moment I laid pencil to paper that July. But in that moment, when surrounded by fellow artists seeking the same path as professional dancers, I still chose to string that selection of words together. To veer away from desiring the “traditional” path of a professional dancer – the one I yearned for, for so very long. There are times when I question my desires, when I feel the slippery seductress of all that I had ever (thought) I wanted from my dance career begin to sing sweet siren songs and lead me astray. But this questioning happens less and less as I become more grounded in my purpose as a dancer, and beyond that identity, as a human being.

I’m in a process of alchemizing my relationship with dance – an ongoing process that will continue to be a thread throughout my life.

+ + +

The Alchemizing of a Relationship

No.1 – Extract the elements of the relationship that are the essence of why I chose to dance long ago, and throughout all of the trials and tribulations, still choose to dance today. Imbibe their spirit. Hold them dear to my heart.

No.2 – Compost the residual muck that is no longer serving a beneficial purpose in the relationship. Do not dispel the lingering negative notions, but rather, allow them to decay. Be patient with their death. As the life slips away, reflect on what I’ve learned from their teachings. Invest in the act of gratitude as the organic matter of my relationship transmutes.

No.3 – Fertilize the elemental essences with the rich, organic matter of my past experiences. Allow for the alchemy to take root in the heart of the matter. See what new life takes form.

Repeat steps 1 through 3 as often as is necessary. May be used for all kinds of relationships.

Results may vary

+ + +

Sometimes, I speak of dance as though it is a person, or a characterization of all that it is. This is simply for expression’s sake and written creativity. When in truth, dance – the way I have grown to see it, to know it, to experience it – is much more thematic in texture. A human motif. An innate wisdom of the body, experienced across all cultures throughout time, as we know it. The essence of dance, this truth, is what I’ve loved all along. It’s what has kept me invested; what has carried me through countless periods of struggle and pain, enduring the inflicted wounds of rejection and confusion that accompany the path of a professional dancer. All, for the love of dance.

When I was 3, I wanted to dance. I don’t know why, but I did. I insisted on it. I would only wear dresses, mind you, that twirled when I danced around…no matter what the weather was like outside. Simple and pure, movement was life. Fast forward many years and somewhere along the way, I got a little lost. A little caught up in the concerns of “making it” and being a successful professional dancer. Thinking I knew what I wanted out of a professional dance career and that ultimately, I would be happy once this career goal was reached. Until then, being content in my career was always a stone’s throw away. Setting the bar higher. Wanting more out of life. Never stop, never settle. Just a few of the guiding mantras I followed.

My ideas as to what it means for me to be in touch with my human self have shifted as I’ve been walking down a rewilding path. It’s a very hard pill to swallow when it dawns on you that the very thing you love to do has become captive to the domesticated systems that we mostly operate within. When it dawns on you that the very thing you’ve grown up loving and devoting yourself to, has manifested itself into a career paradigm that holds direct conflict with how you actually envision your life unfolding.

The dance studio feels like a cage at times. Surrounded by mirrors, marley, and artificial lighting when I crave woodland paths, giant old-growth Doug firs, the reflection from rushing rivers, and natural light sourced from the sun’s rays, even when that means the direct light is blocked by a thick blanket of clouds on an overcast day here in the PNW. To me, a little natural light is better than lots of artificial light – quality vs. quantity.

Outside of the dance studio, I have weaved an interconnected web of wellness, honoring the wisdom of the natural world and the cycles we find within it as guidance for how I structure my own life, and facilitate my offerings to others. I am a wellness guide to those seeking to cultivate a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them through movement practices that bridge ancient wisdoms with modern methodologies. Luminous Architecture, my body of work, allows me to serve others through my favorite medium: movement. Merging healing movement with holistic lifestyle design, my spirit soars when helping people move through the world, both literally and figuratively, with more awareness and pleasure…similar to how I feel when I’m performing.

I love performing – always have, always will. But to solely be a great performer, that is not where I find purpose. It is not where I feel most useful. To have a profound impact on the way people choose to live their lives while here on this earth, to empower others through the medium of movement, to bring dance back to its roots – dance not just for entertainment, but as a form of ritual, holding ceremony, celebration, mourning, processing the unwavering human experience of emotions. The raw, primal, transcendent aspects of dance that allow us to connect with the human spirit. Shifting the paradigm of human existence through movement. This is where I find purpose.

+ + +

 

Deciding to move away from NYC and relocate to the Pacific Northwest was a big step towards bringing these visions to life. How could I ever connect to the body of the land, the blood of my work, the call to come home as a human while living in the city that never sleeps? Quite honestly, I was getting exhausted.

I have found myself dancing, rehearsing, and performing with BodyVox here in Portland because my dreams seem to unfold in a non-linear way. When an opportunity comes a-knockin’ the least you can do is answer and give it a listen. Old habits die hard, true change takes time, and that siren song is strong enough to bring me back to the studio in the more conventional career path. Now I’m able to balance my rehearsal schedule with plenty of time outdoors, unlike when living in the concrete jungle. Seeking balance along the spectrum of this vision is serving me well, and for that, I am grateful.

My partner and I have begun to explore how to breathe life into our collective vision of merging artistry with humanity through the creation of GROUND + CENTER. A project, and furthermore, a lifestyle, that melds our art forms with our human forms. On the artistic side, combining site specific dance performance and fine art photography. On the human side, combining our need to feed and be fed by the natural world of which we are a part. A project where we, as artistic humans, can ground into the land we live on, the art forms we love, and build a center for people to gather, grow, and awaken the human spirit. Something like that letter I wrote back in 2017. The vision stays alive, is nourished, and it continues to manifest.

Feeling at home within my body, honoring the wisdom of my body, bringing greater awareness as to how my movement – how I choose to move, walk, dance in this world – affects lives, human and non-human alike, and truly has an impact on the bigger picture of this planet. Leading by example, physically moving to inspire others to move more, move more freely, more purposefully, more intentionally, with greater care and deeper connection to themselves and the wild world that cradles them. This is where my movement practice is leading me these days. To work within a landscape, dance among the elements, and create something that sheds light on the heart of the matter – our humanness, our nature; our human nature.

 

Photo Credit: Kitfox Valentín

Contributor Bio:

Jessica McCarthy is a dancer, teacher, and healer based in Portland, OR. A native of Virginia, she holds a BFA in Dance and a minor in Psychology from NYU. Throughout her dance career, she has performed contemporary, opera, and dance theater works by Jamey Hampton + Ashley Roland, Florian Bilbao, Reut Shemesh, Charlotte Boye-Christensen, and Zoe Scofield, among others. Training includes Gaga Intensive, Strictly Seattle, Richmond Ballet, The Ailey School, and Elbert Watson. Jessica is also a 300 hour licensed Mind Body Dancer yoga teacher. Her body of work, Luminous Architecture, weaves an integrative web of movement, healing, wellness practices, and holistic lifestyle design. After 7 years in NYC, Jessica happily calls the Pacific Northwest home, where she dances with BodyVox, serves as a wellness guide, and can be found exploring wild landscapes. She also teaches yoga classes at The Grinning Yogi in PDX and returns to NYC seasonally to offer workshops and women’s gatherings.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

close up photo of a globe

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


The March equinox marks one of two times each year that day and night unfold to equal lengths. This ‘balancing act’ of darkness and light is a precarious collection of conditions. It is movement, rhythm, angles and relationship that together create this equality. Today, as I tune into the equinox, I marvel at how this simple balance can be expressed amidst the chaos in our universe.

As a society, we have a tendency to put ‘balance’ in a bucket for later. After I finish this performance run. After I secure a contract. After my baby learns to sleep. Certainly, taking refuge on the other side of a high-stress period is an important part of living sustainably. But what if balance doesn’t have to just wait? Could it possibly be found within the chaos? Perhaps balance could be less conditional, more creative, an infusing of real-life with oxygen and perspective. As I finish this performance run. As I secure a contract. As my baby learns to sleep.

In the Middle of it All, Somewhat Elevated

Alongside the early buds of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, ballet companies unveil their upcoming seasons. International auditions wrap up and company contract renewals are distributed. Retirements, staff changes and promotions are announced. New dancers are hired and some dancers are given notice (been there!). In certain years, there’s room for expansion, opportunity and risk-taking. Other years call for cutting back and working with restraint. With a busy performance season still underway, the low rumble of the future inches closer. A tangled blend of emotions – from anticipation and excitement, to stress and disappointment – weave with notable imbalance through studio halls.

Whether experiencing or witnessing change, the ground beneath every dancer is shifting at least a little (or perhaps a lot) this spring. Some of the changes announced in the ballet world have signaled progress (though nowhere near equality) in our artform. As all forms of news, activity and emotion swirl through the air, balance may seem out of reach – even trivial. Yet balance is the very thing that allows us to be in the middle of our chaos, and also somewhat elevated.

Expanding the Repertoire for Balance

The commodified version of balance is sold to us in the form of face masks, vacations and wine. It’s advertised as the serene parenting professional who “has it all together” between her cross-training regimens, meal plans and supermom strategies. Such comedic, unrealistic representations distort what balance is and how it is cultivated. They trick our minds into believing that balance is something we either indulge in sometimes or achieve for always.

It’s freeing to remember balance is not something to master; it is something to tilt towards. The equinox arrives showing us it is an experience to move into, pass through and rhythmically move back towards again.

Balance, and the daily habits that sponsor it, look different for each of us. It’s an ongoing, personal process of inquiry and discovery to truly tailor the fit. But for all of us, it’s important to identify balance as something larger than ourselves. An artist’s healthy inner life is interdependent with a healthy arts community at large. Expanding outward in the name of balance is as equally important as turning inward. Rather than depleting us, engaging outwardly as an arts advocate broadens perspective, fuels inspiration and enriches passion with purpose. With small, everyday actions, balance becomes something we can access and experience together.

Three Action Steps:

  • JOIN Americans for the Arts
    The National Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day occured in Washington, DC earlier this March. This summit brought arts activists together in support of strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Hosted by Americans for the Arts, cultural and civic organizations partnered to advocate for issues like arts education policy, the charitable tax deduction and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. You can JOIN Americans for the Arts to support this annual event and to engage with their tremendous efforts all year long.
  • EXPLORE The United States of Arts
    Since the beginning of 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts has been gathering stories from the general public and grantees, elected officials and agency directors, artists and art lovers across the country about the importance of art in their lives and their communities. EXPLORE these geographically organized stories to spark creative ideas and connect to your community as an arts advocate.
  • ENCOURAGE Creativity
    As dancers, you already know why #TheArtsMatter. This Encourage Creativity campaign (created by Americans for the Arts) is designed to reach your power-holding policymakers, business leaders, parents and teachers. These wonderful resources can be used by YOU to advocate for access to the arts in your community and to educate those around you. Start by SHARING this compelling (and adorable!) video. Supplement your efforts with Why the Arts Matter State Factsheets.

When we embody balance as a daily rhythm that bends us both inward and outward, we become better artists and also better citizens. However imperfect these practices are, they still seem to create the occasional magic of an equinox, right in the middle of our lives.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

woman wearing silk dress and holding a black break a leg scenery bag

Credit: scenerybags.com

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


We sketched our first leotard designs for Jai-Dee Dancewear in March 2018. Exactly one year later, these designs have (at last!) fully come to life. As dancers test our production-ready size sets, we continue moving towards an official fall launch with gratitude and anticipation.

Followers of Jai-Dee may recall our leotards will feature ECONYL® regenerated nylon. This regenerative process transforms ocean and landfill waste into the fiber that gives rise to our fabric. We can’t wait for you to experience how this material looks, feels and performs.

Of course, a sustainable future needs more than ECONYL® fiber. A sustainable future needs more than Jai-Dee Dancewear. A sustainable future depends on all of us. When done with and for community, the possibilities for better are endless. Today, I introduce you to a fellow brand reducing waste and investing in the future in a unique and wonderful way!

Meet SCENERY: from backdrops to bags and beyond

In collaboration with designers, shows and theaters, SCENERY creates original, handmade bags out of retired theater backdrops. These drops were damaged, unusable, stuck in storage or en route to landfills. SCENERY collects this waste, transforming rejected curtains into an array of beautiful totes, clutches and bags. A portion of each bag sold is donated to the non-profit Theater Development Fund (TDF) to help “bring the power of the performing arts to everyone.”

Credit: scenerybags.com

Last Christmas, my sweet mum gifted me a Masking Leg Clutch from SCENERY’s Curtain Call Collection. This bag was crafted with retired black drops, known backstage as legs. Unlike one-show backdrops, these legs have lived in theaters and framed multiples stories of the stage. I simply adore my clutch and the piece of theater history it carries. The familiar feel of the black velour fabric transports me back to my own time onstage and in the wings, providing a personal, tactile link from past to present.

Tucked inside each SCENERY bag is a handwritten tag, a loopy sweep of a pen marking the artistic hands which gave these backdrops their fresh, new identity. My Masking Leg clutch has become a favorite accessory for evenings at the ballet. When I take a seat in the audience, my heart is bolstered even more by the knowledge that SCENERY has helped nearly 500 kids access theater through its nonprofit alliance with TDF.

Credit: scenerybags.com

I am struck by how fully SCENERY takes responsibility for its identity as brand. With collaboration at its core, SCENERY expands what is possible for waste, business, art and community. Their work serves a reminder that the world we inhabit is the one we choose to create. With wide open imaginations, we can see beyond the ordinary to co-create a vibrant, sustainable future together.

Join the Giveaway

In celebration of discovering this inspiring neighbor (and also with a small toast our leotards being ready for production), Jai-Dee is hosting a SCENERY bag giveaway. One winner will be selected to receive the beautiful Break A Leg bag – the perfect merde gift for yourself or a friend!

Simple Participation

To participate in the SCENERY giveaway, simply subscribe to our newsletter HERE (by the way – we like a clutter-free inbox too which is why you won’t get more than two hellos from us in a month) If you are already a subscriber, you will be automatically entered.

Extra Enthusiasm

For a second entry, SHARE this link directly with a friend via email or text. You can also spread the word on your preferred social media platform and even through good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. For this additional entry, you’ll have to LET US KNOW you took extra steps to support Jai-Dee Dancewear and SCENERY by talking about our brands. Just drop a line in our box telling us how you shared the post (honor code style!) and you’ll receive a second entry.

Timeline

Giveaway runs until April 1st(no joke!) and winner will be notified by email. We will also announce the winner to our community via the Jai-Dee newsletter and on our Instagram.

While giveaways are fun, this post is really about supporting one another in this creative community. Thanks for being here and supporting both Jai-Dee Dancewear and SCENERY! The next time you need a meaningful gift (how perfect is a Curtain Call bag for a retiring dancer?!), shop with SCENERY to reduce waste, save art and foster a future generation of theatergoers.

Credit: tdf.org

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

*Jai-Dee Dancewear is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to SCENERY. We did not receive any compensation for this post or purchases – we simply wish to share this beautiful, impactful project with our community!

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

black and white photo of a ballet dancer

Photographer Karolina Kuras, in collaboration with Louiza Babouryan (dress) and Fjord Review (sponsor)

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


When I received my first contract as a professional dancer, the self-doubt lurking in my viscera took a short vacation. The possibility of making it gave me a blissful break from my own negative narrative. But stressors (some real, some imagined) soon ushered that insecurity right back into my body. It wasn’t until I turned towards the work waiting for me on the inside that I could loosen my anxious grip on goals, destinations and external validation. With practice (and plenty of setbacks), my life today centers far less around arriving and much more around becoming.

While our current culture still pulls us towards linear living with what feels like a forceful tug, there are many creative communities stepping off ladders and rewilding hearts. By developing a community with which we can each lean on and stumble with, it seems to be we, as a society, can embrace the concept of finding feet in liminal life*.

One artist helping light the way is the lovely Shelby Elsbree. Shelby is an artist, arts advocate, writer and former professional dancer whose beautiful work I got to know through our shared history with Boston Ballet. Her creative writing home, Tutus & Tea is a stunning display of living inquiry and art. You’ll want to bookmark her site and visit it often (bring a warm cup of tea and an urushed heart).

Today on our blog, Shelby explores how our past, present and future selves co-create our wholeness. She examines how insight and opportunity emerge when we walk boldly into the disorienting phases and transitions of life. She reminds us that what is most meaningful is often not instantly visible (nor instagrammable…)

This work originally posted on Tutus & Tea last July when we were all much (much) warmer. Enjoy words and photography that promise to slow you down and thaw you out.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.


*Liminal, stemming from the latin root limen, means “threshold.” The liminal space is the crossing over space – a place where one has left something behind yet not fully into something else.


{Hello? It’s me.}

Longing for reasons good enough to return to this sweet space but weak in the face of every distraction to put it off…(is anyone else binging Suits because #MeghanMarkle? Shameless, I admit). Let’s face it, in this social world we live in, we feel the need to filter and fragment every waking moment before deeming it ‘like-worthy’ enough to share and I’m both a victim and a contributor towards the millennial trend. Anyways, I’ve been hiding in here…


…looking for followers. JK 😉

It’s 95˚outside and inspired by solo-museum ventures and reflective walks in the shade, I decided today was the day I’d treat myself to a ‘flash-chilled’ ice coffee to-stay thank you, and a thought-cleanse on this here *carefully-curated* corner of my internet legacy.

To be honest, much of my reservations to keep Tutus&Tea alive and well post-dance-career have centered around transitional doubts that I would have relevant things to say anymore — specifically to a dancer/family audience (hi momma) …but who am I kidding? I always have something to say and for every time that’s gotten me in trouble, it has gotten me twice the amount of opportunity. De rien mes amis.


So, I challenge you to take a seat and stay a while…let’s have a chat 🙂

Has anyone noticed that people’s Instagram captions have turned into mini-blog posts? I read an article that suggested this fit the needs of our dwindling attention spans* which made me sad & left me with two questions:

1. Does this mean people don’t have time for blogs anymore (not to mention articles/books for goodness sake)?! slash If I EVER get back to Tutus&Tea with inspiring content, will people even take the 5/10 minutes to read it…or are they just here for the breathtaking photography & poems ;)…?! (*disclaimer: this miiight have contributed to my procrastination, I place applicable blame here)

…and 2. If Instagram captions are all people have time for, WHAT NEXT? Will iGen be reading blurred news off sidewalk chalk whilst fighting automated-hoverboard traffic? I digress…

Yesterday after yoga, I put on some lipstick and took myself out to the Newseum here in Washington, D.C. If you haven’t been, you’re in for an emotional melting pot of American journalism history that will actually break your heart wide open. The ‘Picture Of the Year’ exhibit gathers 75 years of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs graphic and gripping enough to send you running for the “First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets” gallery 4 floors down (we miss you Bo & Sunny) — but not before you take a moment to fight back tears and ruminate over the ol’ “…a picture is worth a thousand words” adage that, in this case of surreal photo journalism, is more like “…a picture is worth our understanding of freedom & captivity, beauty & tragedy, happiness & despair, love & hate and virtually every other conceptual and emotional binary humans have the capacity to experience.” Byeee water weight.

This got me thinking back on that idea of our depreciating attention-spans and time for anything not immediately self-serving. It would be one thing if the content we consumed (inhaled more-like) came from award-winning photo journalists who have risked their lives to show us what reality looks like in a sadly “post-fact” world of news and global goings-on. In that case, we’d hardly need captions at all because words in the face of literal breath-taking captures are gross understatements…but this isn’t the case. Rather, we have the blessing (curse?) of catering our daily ‘feeds’ and followings to content that is relevant to our social circles, our passions, what we wear, write, tweet, re-post, etc…

This summer, I’m interning for a team of rockstars at GiveCampus— writing and familiarizing myself with WeWork perks and professional mentorship I could only have dreamed of before arriving here in person. Perhaps navigating a new work environment and spending a season in our Nation’s capital is rubbing off on me…I catch myself seeing things through a professional/political lens whether I want to or not—it can feel disconcerting… but on the off-hour, I recognize this as just another opportunity to embrace the foreign feelings of life transition.

On a recent morning commute, I tuned in to my fave Podcast by HRH Oprah and came across this gem of a thought to think: It seems that at nearly every point in our lives, we’re experiencing some form of a transition – whether personal, professional, physical, emotional, or spiritual…transitions don’t really come to an end, they shift into a different season or chapter of your life and manifest themselves in the people, places and things that make us who we are. Before we know it, we’re facing a new transition usually without clear resolution of the old one — perspectives shift, focus changes, thoughts reframe.

This idea #shook (forgive) me in a BIG way. Here I’ve been, spending the last two years (!!) “transitioning” from my life as a dancer to my life as a student/“retired dancer” (ugh), waiting for some obvious moment when I might feel officially “transitioned.” I’ve thought a lot about what this moment might look like as I hold fast to my calf muscles and stress dream about forgotten choreography: It usually vacillates somewhere between me graduating from Columbia, speaking publicly on behalf of my passions/experiences while holding audiences in rapt attention via clever, intellectual rhetoric (or a kick-a** Vinyasa Flow sequence) …..AND pinpointing my life’s purpose while writing a book, taking a global-trek, or getting swept off my feet by an eligible Royal on a blind-date (kidding (not kidding)).

{switches crossed legs, ahem ankles*}

Ironically whilst escaping the heat this afternoon, I came across a poignant blog post written by former Principal ballerina/current Artistic Director of Washington Ballet, Julie Kent.

“On the Labor and Reward of Becoming a Ballerina,” she wrote:

Working hard, being disciplined and focused, loving what you do—all these things that are a natural part of being a dancer—will equip you with the tools to make a contribution to the world and be successful. Do you want to dance? At the end of the day, that’s what it is. Get to the heart of what your work as a dancer means to you and then start pursuing it.”

Unsurprisingly, this struck all the cords as I sat there contemplating my life’s current, less-choreographed path…Pursuing something I’m passionate about, something impactful and fulfilling — these are all the reasons I gave my life to a sacrificial art-form like dance in the first place. All the reasons I wonder if I should go back and lace up my ballerina boots…

…the meaning of my work as a dancer… the reward of becoming a ballerina…

These now obvious concepts have nothing to do with what I gave (or could still give) to dance and everything to do with what dancing gave to me. While finding ‘meaning’ beyond the barre and world’s stages has proven to be quite the challenge, I’m now seeing my current transition to be more and more of a creative impetus into the next one.

Re-reading Julie’s post, I realized the harder I try to get to the heart of this meaning, to make a contribution to the world and be successful, the more I find my work has only just begun…and I can’t help but wonder if breezing by a filtered photo or a witty caption would have inspired this same level of reflection.

If you’ve made it down here to the bottom of this thought train, the light in me bows to the light in you 🙂

Stay tuned for recently discovered Trader Joe snacks, #InternshipMusings, and deep thoughts on family roots >> see what I did there.

Now, back to Suits.

xx, S
p.s. I welcome your thoughts with arms in 2nd position — dog days of summer are upon us and we need all the refreshing sips & shares we can get 😉

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

plants sprouting

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


2018 was a year of planting seeds for Jai-Dee Dancewear. With support from Factory45, Wallace James, Emily Belyea and RISE Creative, we laid down roots to grow a sustainable, ethical business. We collaborated with many talented artists to launch our microsite, newsletter and blog, and we created a cozy spot on Instagram to welcome you to our budding community without bombarding you with content. We designed our leotards, sourced our fabrics and sewed our ideas into shape.

As we move towards the production phase of our project, preparing for a Fall launch, I’m pausing here to express my gratitude for YOU. Thank you for encouraging, sharing and inspiring the work that we are doing. Your support is nourishing and deeply appreciated.

As our brand identity continues to grow and evolve in the year(s!) ahead, I find myself drawn to a much broader inquiry into the subject of identity as a whole. This inquiry into how we shape, interpret and respond to identities will be the focus on our blog over the next several months. In this upcoming series, we will be exploring the fullness of identity and how it grows, shifts and transforms as we move through life. We will dwell in the intersections where a woman’s identity as a dancer crosses with other important aspects of herself. We will interrogate the rigidity we build around identity and study how this rigidity limits our sense of self, our capabilities beyond our comfort zone and our perception of others. With these posts, interviews and guest features, we will welcome in more possibility for ourselves, each other and the many worlds we inhabit together.

Thank you for continuing with us on our journey. Shaping Jai-Dee’s identity, and creating a tangible product to strongly reflect that identity, is a thoughtful, careful process and your patience and excitement is both encouraging and inspiring.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

ballerina backstage nutcracker

ballerina backstage nutracker

Photographed by Rosalie O’Connor Courtesy of Boston Ballet

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


Sarah Wroth is the type of artist, colleague, leader and friend who reimagines what is possible in any given moment. I was lucky to dance beside this special person for many years while we worked together at Boston Ballet. The integrity Sarah brought to her work elevated our entire organization, where she challenged each of us to bring open minds, hearts and spirits to the studio each day.

After I left the company, and before Sarah herself retired, we made it a habit to meet for tea and exchange life updates. As we caught up at a cafe one afternoon, I extended sympathy to Sarah for the “dreaded” Nutcracker season soon underway for her. Sarah smiled back at me, the joy in her face proving the honesty in her reply.

I love Nutcracker, she said.

Sarah pointed out how Nutcracker is often the first, sometimes only ballet to bring someone to the theater. She expressed a sense of honor in being able to share dance with new, more diverse audience members. She went on to frame the yearly grind of Nutcracker as a tremendous opportunity for artistic and personal growth. As we spoke, it became clear that Nutcracker didn’t break her down – it lifted her up.

Plus, for a child, Sarah emphasized, Nutcracker is pure magic.

In all my years in the company with Sarah, I had assumed her unwavering devotion to Nutcracker each winter was some kind of survival strategy intersecting with her trademark work ethic. But in the café that day, I felt the glowing sincerity in her love towards something so many of us have taken for granted as dancers – resented even.

Sometimes optimism feels like bullshit. Sometimes though, the seemingly-optimistic perspective is actually the more complete view. Sarah didn’t deny that performing Nutcracker season can be mind-numbing, soul-draining and generally pretty painful. She didn’t sugarcoat reality or add artificial sweetener. She simply hadn’t forgotten there are other pieces to the Nutcracker story. Dancing Nutcracker IS an honor. It IS a responsibility. It IS… at least sometimes… pure magic.

With heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.

black and white photo of two dancers holding one another in a ballet position

three drops of joy featured ballet dancers

Photograph by Karolina Kuras

Jai-Dee Dancewear is a sustainable leotard company celebrating the beauty, wisdom and value of women who dance. Our blog serves to inform, inspire and connect our community of socially conscious women in ballet and beyond. All hearts are welcome here.


Earlier this fall, when I asked Boston Ballet dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy where she finds beauty in her life, she described beauty as something that exists all around us. With this simple reflection, she reminded us readers how we often have more access to joy than we might habitually notice.

This season, I’m finding it nourishing – crucial even – to look, listen and feel for moments of beauty and joy. These simple moments lift my heart and say to me that we can still be whole, even when our planet feels broken and there is work to be done. I’m learning joy is here for us even when suffering and injustice tramples through our world and over our hearts.

Here are three things of beauty that promise to provide a drop of JOY as you care for your spirit, show up for your world and intentionally give and gift this season:

Fjord Review


This stunning digital dance magazine is coming to life in print this December. It’s a limited edition run and an eco-friendly production. Whether you back their Kickstarter campaign as gesture of artistic support, gift the magazine to other dancers or purchase the creation as artwork for your own coffee table, your contribution will help the joy of dance become tangible.


Market45


Market45 is a beautiful online space for people looking to shop differently this season. This ethical fashion marketplace celebrates the joy of simplicity and embraces the value of sustainability. I personally love the featured PonyBabe lounge pants for legs that want to stretch, as well as all of the Regenerous Designs headbands. (I own and love the Big Braided Headband in Vintage Rose!) Dancers will simply adore the look and fit of these headbands. Shopping through Market45 not only provides you with ethical and sustainable shopping options – it also provides you 10% off your purchase!


Coloring Without Borders


Artists and citizens are coming together to help end family separation and support family reunification at our American border. This collaborative and beautiful coloring book helps children separated from their families at the border to “expand their imaginations beyond the walls that confine them” and helps encourage “empathy and compassion for families that live free of the struggles that migrant families are enduring.”

All proceeds go directly to Families Belong Together. This is my gift of choice for both the children and adults in my life this holiday season.

With an aching, yet joyful heart,

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Sustainable leotards empowering women through ecofriendly clothing.

Join us backstage for community news & launch party offers.