Mary Helen Bowers

Professional Ballerina; Founder of Ballet Beautiful. New York

As you may have noticed, our expertise lies pretty squarely in the arena of sartorial pursuits. After all, when it comes to Balmain versus Balenciaga, La Mer versus La Prairie, bias cut versus princess cut, we like to think we know a thing or two. We also like to think we can hold our own with regards to music (case in point: that time the girls from Haim were our PFW show companions), art (a few years of Basel makes us experts, right?) and fitness (those Beyoncé dance classes are totally our calling), too, but one area we’re not so familiar with, at least not since we were eight-year-olds in itchy tights, is the ballet studio. So walking into the light-filled, loft-like Soho space of Mary Helen Bowers, we felt a little, well, out of our depth (especially next to the lithe, leotard-clad Bowers—for some context, we were wearing biker boots and black jeans, which hardly make for an elegant ensemble).

Then again, Bowers knows how to speak our language. She may have danced with the New York City Ballet (only the most prestigious company in the country, NBD) for 10 years (starting when she was 16—again, NBD), but following her retirement, she trained Natalie Portman for that little Oscar-winning movie-you-may-have-heard-of Black Swan, while launching her own fitness company soon-to-become-a-phenomenon, Ballet Beautiful. And by phenomenon, we mean seriously huge, everyone-whose-body-you-idolize-goes-to-her, massively influential health and fitness program. When everyone from Lily Aldridge and Doutzen Kroes to Liv Tyler and Kirsten Dunst goes to Bowers for her pliés and relevés, Ballet Beautiful can pretty much be held responsible for, well, making us think that ballet is cool again—and for upholding the whole long, lean, but strong body ideal without the tiresome downward dog yogi, holier-than-thou slant.

Back to the studio. While we were all like, Sofia Coppola’s been here (!!!) in our heads, we had to admit that the lovely, sweet and uncomfortably flexible Bowers is, along with the hoard of Victoria’s Secret Models she trains, her own best advertisement. We mean, the woman had a baby a few months ago (take a look at her Instagram from December for some physics-defying pirouettes) and she had no problem leaping across the room or doing the splits, arched back and all, while our photog Jake snapped away. After trading our boots for a pair of slippers from the new line of Ballet Beautiful ballet shoes (they’ve have been soled so that they can be worn on the street—you know, so that it at least looks like we’re totally going to weekly classes), we caught a glimpse of Bowers in full Swan Lake mode, pink tutu and all, on the fire escape, with downtown New York rooftops as her backdrop. We totally knew we’d be living out our six-year-old ballerina princess fantasies someday.


Styling: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Jake Rosenberg
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