"Ballet careers are relatively short and require years of training that pose the risk of injury, yet the world’s top dancers earn far less money than their counterparts elsewhere in show business."
"What to do about it?" I asked. I concluded that companies and theatres were already pretty stretched and that the public whether as theatregoer or taxpayer cannot afford much more. Since then we have had the pandemic that has closed theatres around the world for months."So is there anything else that can be done?" I asked. "Well perhaps" I answered." As the Bailey's Nutcracker commercial showed some years ago, ballet can sell. Maybe advertising, merchandising and endorsement. Many companies were already taking advantage of that revenue stream but what about dancers? Compared to sports stars, rock musicians and even opera singers, dancers have been slow to tap into it. When I wrote my article 6 years ago, the only two that came to mind were Carlos Acosta and Darcey Bussell.
They have been joined by several others and the latest happens to be one of my favourite artists, Bethany Kingsley-Garner. I wrote in my review of her performance as Odile in David Dawson's Swan Lake:
"Bethany Kingsley-Garner, who has recently been elevated to principal, was perfect in both. She first came to my notice as Cinderella in Edinburgh (see Scottish Ballet's Cinderella 20 Dec 2015) and she has already entered my canon of all time greatest ballerinas. The only other Scottish dancer in that rare company is Elaine McDonand (see Elaine McDonald in her own Words 11 March 2014)." (see Empire Blanc: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016)
Kingsley-Garner has two spin-off activities: online ballet classes and coaching and, more recently, her own dancewear collection which she distributes through Manchester-based online retailer Move Dance.
The dancewear includes leotards, shrug, skirts, top and leg warmers. Each of those garments has a name and a story. For instance, one of the leotards is called "The Rachel Leotard". This is the story:
"Every step of the way
Here's to good women everywhere. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."
Creation - Emergence - Life Force - Love - Nurture - Protect - Support - Confidence
Rachel is my mother, she gave me the greatest gift of life itself; nurtured, protected and loved unconditionally.
She helped me take my first steps, raised me to become confident, individual and independent and was there to watch me step on stage emerged as a principal ballerina leading the ballet company.
A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person who makes leaning unnecessary. I am a strong woman because a strong woman raised me.
Feel the support and protection when you're dancing in The Rachel Leotard.
Be Inspired Be Unstoppable Be You . . BKG"
That is a delightful sentiment and it says something that we might have guessed but would not otherwise have known why Kingsley-Garner is such a remarkable dancer.
Launching a dancewear collection when dance studios in most parts of the UK are in lockdown might seem to some to be a bold thing to do. But it is also a promise of better things to come. This venture deserves to succeed and it has every chance of doing so.