Big Ballet star Hannah Baines has swapped the dance floor for the catwalk to showcase a new ‘made in Britain’ dancewear range for dancers of all shapes and sizes – and inspire dancers both young and old to put on their dancing shoes.
As the number of UK adults taking up dance classes jumped by 70 per cent, dancewear brand 1st Position has expanded its British-made range for men and women to give more choice for adults taking up dance professionally, or as a hobby in search of fun and improved fitness.
Hannah Baines, aged 18 from Bentley – who fulfilled her lifelong dream to perform after winning a place on Channel 4’s popular Big Ballet series, is the new star of 1st Position’s adult range for its 2014/15 catalogue – which is sent to more than 25,000 dance teachers, in more than 55 countries.
Hannah, said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, short or tall – dance is for everyone. I started dancing aged three and always dreamed of building a career in the industry. But at 5’3 and a size 18 – I wasn’t the traditional size for a ballerina and when I didn’t get a place to study performing arts I almost gave up.
“I’m living proof that not being the traditional shape or size doesn’t have to hold you back, so it’s great to be chosen to model 1st Position to encourage more people to get dancing, and wear a British-made range from a company that supports dancers of all sizes.”
To help celebrate the launch of its new dancewear catalogue, International Dance Supplies (IDS) who makes its 1st Position range in the UK, invited Hannah and ten members of the original Big Ballet troupe to perform their first-ever commercial performance as Big Ballet UK at the IDS annual International Dance Teachers Conference (IDTC). Taking place from 4-7 August 2014, the event saw Big Ballet UK perform The Nutcracker story, choreographed by their artistic director, Daniel Jones, at the Royal Ballet School, to an audience of hundreds of dance professionals.
Led by Wayne Sleep and Prima Ballerina Monica Loughman, Big Ballet, the TV series, brought together a troupe of plus size women with one thing in common – a passion for dance. The series saw the troupe recreate their own version of the well-loved ballet Swan Lake and fulfil their dream on dancing on the stage – with Hannah chosen to play the lead ballerina role of Odette. Following the TV programme, the dancers continue to pursue their dream of practicing and performing classical ballet as Big Ballet UK.
1st Position founder, Anne Walker, MBE, said: “Big Ballet has done fantastic things for the dance industry, inspiring dancers of all ages and sizes to get involved – either taking up a new hobby or returning to dance after many years. Our 1st Position leotards have always been available in larger sizes but now we’ve launched a wider range of styles, to encourage ‘Big Ballet’ dancers everywhere.
“We’ve always made dancewear for people of all ages and sizes, and used real dancers as our models – so I’m really happy that Hannah agreed to model for us as it sends a really positive message that nobody should be afraid of wearing a leotard.”
1st Position’s adult range includes leotards, tutus, skirts, warm-ups and much more and is available to purchase at http://www.danceandshop.co.uk
1st Position was founded by former dance teacher Anne Walker, MBE, in 1978 when she spotted a gap in the market for high quality, affordable dancewear for her students. The 1st Position range first sewn by Anne 36 years ago is still designed by Anne and made in the UK.