5 Reasons Why Teachers Are Raving About Alexandra Costumes

Alexandra Costumes' bold apparel has been making its way onto stages across the nation and people are noticing. Why do coaches love these costumes so much? With years of experience in the dance industry, the minds behind Alexandra Costumes know what works for dancers—comfort, performance and stage-worthy style.


1. "We Know Dance"
It all started with Alexandra herself. "Yes," says Alexandra Garaets "the company was named after me! I started the collection when I was in middle school as a line offered exclusively by Just For Kix. Throughout the years, it has grown and allowed us to launch a full costume catalog." As a professional dancer, Alexandra has worked with over 21,000 dancers. She has danced at Super Bowls with the Black Eyed Peas and Beyoncé. "It really became a team effort. I'm happy to be collaborating with so many talented people to make this collection a reality." Alexandra would design, create patterns and test the products herself. Since then, her vision has grown exponentially. Now Alexandra Costumes holds a catalog of its own.

"These costumes are perfect for our performances," says Cindy Clough, founder of Just For Kix, who brings dancers together every year to perform at the Outback Bowl in Florida. "We have dancers of all ages here. Over 400 dancers performing, some as young as 8 years old and others leaving high school this year. Their costumes all fit great." Alexandra Costumes offer printed designs in both youth and adult sizes. No matter the team size or your age group you will find the perfect costumes to bring them together as a team.

2. Unique Design

Alexandra Collection designs are created through collaboration between Alexandra and talented apparel designers from the U.S. and U.K. "Our team comes together and meets on every design, looking at what works and what doesn't," adds Alexandra. "Almost everyone in the company are dancers and teachers themselves and they bring their expertise into each design. This makes our costumes not only practical, but bold onstage." This is where dancers and designers come together to make something truly unique. Bright, bold prints available in a variety of styles that mesh perfectly with any performance.

With a new, beautifully vibrant process called dye-sublimation, the designers can create a wide variety of gorgeous designs for any routine. "We aren't afraid to be different," says Dana Clough, product and catalog developer. "Alexandra Costumes brings your performance to the next level—offering stunning designs for every dance style."

3. Comfortable Fit
Uncomfortable costumes with scratchy seams in all the wrong places are a thing of the past. Alexandra Costumes has made certain of that. "There's nothing worse than an uncomfortable costume distracting the dancers," says Jordynn Beckman, pattern maker, designer and dancer herself. Beckman oversees the fittings of Alexandra Costumes. Every design goes through a rigorous testing phase. Dancers try on the apparel and the fit is adjusted using cutting-edge software until the it is performance-perfect for every size. Beckman is an expert on how the garments fit the body and what will be best for dancers. The designs reduce the amount of pieces needed to be sewn, which means fewer seams and lower costs while creating some of the most comfortable costumes on the market.

Worried about costumes fitting strangely? Plan ahead with a sizing kit, so you'll know how a style will fit ahead of time. As long as you return it within two weeks, the kit is free (even the shipping!). It's the perfect tool, so why not use it?

4. In-Stock Costumes
Have you been in that spot where your recital season is next month and you haven't found the perfect costume yet? Alexandra Costumes offers a wide variety of in-stock costumes ready to ship. Remove the "if" from the equation with these in-stock costumes. "We take pride in providing quality items to coaches in time for the show," says Alexandra. "Sometimes we just need our costumes now. With these items, now is an option!"

5. Affordable
Amazing design, great quality and affordable? You are not dreaming. That is exactly what Alexandra Costumes offer. All costumes are made in the U.S. from the first print to the final stitch. Alexandra Costumes are exclusively for dance teachers, coaches and studio owners.

"Alexandra Costumes are by dancers, for dancers. There's nothing like performing onstage. We've lived it. And it is an incredible experience. Our goal is to help light up your stage by keeping our costumes affordable. We invite you to gain access to our one-of-a-kind costumes at a discounted price. Some dreams do come true, after all'' —xo Ali Garaets

Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."


In 2019, NYCB came calling: Resident choreographer Justin Peck visited Houston Ballet to set a new work titled Reflections. Peck immediately took to Chan and passed his praises on to NYCB artistic director Jonathan Stafford. Chan was invited to take class with NYCB for three days in January 2020, and shortly thereafter was offered a soloist contract.

The plan was to announce his hiring in the spring for the fall season that typically begins in September, but, of course, coronavirus postponed the opportunity to next year. Chan is currently riding out the pandemic in Huizhou, Guangdong, China, where he was born and trained at the Guangzhou Art School.

We talked to Chan about his training journey—and the teachers, corrections and experiences that got him to NYCB.

On the most helpful correction he's ever gotten:

"Work smart, then work hard to keep your body healthy. Most of us get injuries when we're tired. When I first joined Houston Ballet, I was pushing myself 100 percent every day, at every show, rehearsal and class. That's when I got injured [a torn thumb ligament, tendinitis and a sprained ankle.] At that time, my director taught me that we all have to work hard, memorize the steps and take corrections, but it's better to think first because your energy is limited."

How it's benefited his career since:

"It's the secret to me getting promoted to principal very quickly. When other dancers were injured or couldn't perform, I was healthy and could step up to fill a higher role than my position. I still get small injuries, but I know how to take care of them now, and when it's OK to gamble a little."

Chan, wearing grey pants and a grey one-sleeved top, partners Jessica Collado, as she arches her back and leans to the side. Other dancers behind them are dressed as an army of some sort

Chun Wai Chan with Jessica Collado. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet

On his most influential teacher:

"Claudio Muñoz, from Houston Ballet Academy. The first summer intensive there I couldn't even lift the lightest girls. A month later, my pas de deux skills improved so much. I never imagined I could lift a girl so many times. A year later I could do all the tricky pas tricks. That's all because of Claudio. He also taught me how to dance in contemporary, and act all kinds of characters."

How he gained strength for partnering:

"I did a lot of push-ups. Claudio recommended dancers go to the gym. We don't have those kinds of traditions in China, but after Houston Ballet, going to the gym has become a habit."

On his YouTube channel:

"I started a YouTube channel, where I could give ballet tutorials. Many male students only have female teachers, and they are missing out on the guy's perspective on jumps and partnering. I give those tips online because they are what I would have wanted. My goal is to help students have strong technique so they are able to enjoy the stage as much as they can."

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.


"I like to give dancers a phrase of music and choreography and have them reinterpret it," she says, "to be thinkers and creators and not just replicators."

Osato learned this approach—avoiding the natural temptation of the music always being the leader—while earning her MFA in choreography at California Institute of the Arts. "When I was collaborating with a composer for my thesis, he mentioned, 'You always count in eights. Why?'"

This forced Osato out of her creative comfort zone. "The choices I made, my use of music, and its correlation to the movement were put under a microscope," she says. "I learned to not always make the music the driving motive of my work," a habit she attributes to her competition studio training as a young dancer.

While an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, Osato first encountered modern dance. That discovery, along with her experience dancing in Boogiezone Inc.'s off-campus hip-hop company, BREED, co-founded by Elm Pizarro, inspired her own, blended style, combining modern and hip hop with jazz. While still in college, she began working with fellow UCI student Will Johnston, and co-founded the Boogiezone Contemporary Class with Pizarro, an affordable series of classes that brought top choreographers from Los Angeles to Orange County.

"We were trying to bring the hip-hop and contemporary communities together and keep creating work for our friends," says Osato, who has taught for West Coast Dance Explosion and choreographed for studios across the country.

In 2009, Osato, Johnston and Pizarro launched Entity Contemporary Dance, which she and Johnston direct. The company, now based in Los Angeles, won the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and, in 2019, Osato was chosen for two choreographic residencies (Joffrey Ballet's Winning Works and the USC Kaufman New Movement Residency), and became a full-time associate professor of dance at Santa Monica College.

At SMC, Osato challenges her students—and herself—by incorporating a live percussionist, a luxury that's been on pause during the pandemic. She finds that live music brings a heightened sense of awareness to the room. "I didn't realize what I didn't have until I had it," Osato says. "Live music helps dancers embody weight and heaviness, being grounded into the floor." Instead of the music dictating the movement, they're a part of it.

Osato uses the musician as a collaborator who helps stir her creativity, in real time. "I'll say 'Give me something that's airy and ambient,' and the sounds inspire me," says Osato. She loves playing with tension and release dynamics, fall and recovery, and how those can enhance and digress from the sound.

"I can't wait to get back to the studio and have that again," she says.

Osato made Dance Teacher a Spotify playlist with some of her favorite songs for class—and told us about why she loves some of them.

"Get It Together," by India.Arie

"Her voice and lyrics hit my soul and ground me every time. Dream artist. My go-to recorded music in class is soul R&B. There's simplicity about it that I really connect with."

"Turn Your Lights Down Low," by Bob Marley + The Wailers, Lauryn Hill

"A classic. This song embodies that all-encompassing love and gets the whole room groovin'."

"Diamonds," by Johnnyswim

"This song's uplifting energy and drive is infectious! So much vulnerability, honesty and joy in their voices and instrumentation."

"There Will Be Time," by Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal

"Mumford & Sons' music has always struck a deep chord within me. Their songs are simultaneously stripped-down and complex and feel transcendent."

"With The Love In My Heart," by Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest, Jules Buckley

"Other than it being insanely energizing and cinematic, I love how challenging the irregular meter is!"

For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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