This Ballerina Is Taking the World by Storm | MISSBISH Alison Stroming
When it comes to bad bish ballerinas, Alison Stroming is the leader of the pack. The NYC-based dancer and adidas brand ambassador has been keeping herself busy, whether it be performing for the Dance Theatre of Harlem or working on new videos for her budding YouTube channel. We caught up with Stroming to chat about her most recent collection for 5 Dancewear, the experience of interviewing her personal mentor Misty Copeland, and the importance of giving back to the community.
Looking back, it seems as though dance must have always been your passion. Not only were your two old brothers professional tap dancers, but you were also accepted into The School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center at just nine years old. Currently a dancer at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today?
I was adopted from Recife, Brazil, when I was four months old and grew up in New Jersey. I started dance when I was two years old because my two older brothers were professional tap dancers and the dance studio was pretty much our second home. I fell in love with dance, particularly tap and jazz, and competed with my dance studio growing up. I started my formal ballet training when I was nine years old at the School of American Ballet, and knew I had to take ballet more seriously since I was going to such an elite ballet school. I immediately fell in love with the art form and knew ballet was what I wanted to pursue.
For Interview Magazine, you were able to sit down and interview your mentor Misty Copeland, the third African American soloist and first in two decades with the esteemed American Ballet Theater. How was that experience for you and did you notice any similarities between her rise as a woman of color on the stage and your own?
Misty is an incredible woman and I am so grateful to have her in my life as a mentor and friend. She is someone I could definitely relate and connect to, and I think that’s why we share such a great bond. I think we've definitely had different paths as everyone does, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without her and other ballerinas of color who have paved the way for me.
The short video you recently shot with adidas alongside your Convicts NYC interview was really cool. How did that all come together? Please tell us you were able to take home some of those dope adidas pieces!
Convicts reached out to me about a feature they wanted to produce with me. They sent me the concept and visual for the video and I absolutely loved the idea. I am thrilled with the final product, it was very different from any project I’ve ever been a part of. I loved the cool vibe and how unique the film was. I rocked a fun hairstyle that wasn’t a classic ballerina look and danced in the streets of NY in sneakers. adidas supplied wardrobe for the video, and I was so happy to take home one outfit of my choice. This collaboration then led to me becoming an adidas influencer and representative of the brand, which still blows my mind!
How was your experience working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is that something you'd like to do again in the future?
It was a wonderful experience working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation! A young girl came to the booth to do a shoot with Sophia Lucia and myself. I gave her a shopping spree and let her pick anything she wanted from my line, and then we had a photo shoot together in our matching dancewear. She was very sweet and it made me so happy to see how much fun she was having and to see her eyes light up. I would absolutely love to work with the foundation again. I love what the organization does for young kids in need, and it is so important to give back to the community.
What's a typical day like for you?
My workdays usually start at 9:30 or 10am so I wake up around 7:30am to start my morning and to give myself enough time to commute uptown to Harlem. I have ballet class at Dance Theatre of Harlem for an hour and a half and then rehearsal for 6 hours with an hour lunch break. Work usually ends around 6:45pm and I am exhausted, so I will go home and pick up dinner on the way. I like to wind down my day with a bath, hot tea, Netflix, FaceTime with friends and family, and then get a good night’s rest to do it all over again the next day.
You've been able to travel around the world with dance - what have been some of your favorite destinations & memories and why?
I was very fortunate to have gone to Europe for 5 weeks with American Ballet Theatre II. I was 17 years old at the time and it was just a small group of 16 young dancers, we were all around the same age, and our director and company manager. We spent three weeks in Italy, one week in Switzerland, and one week in Spain. We performed almost every night in a different city and theater. Tours are exhausting but it was an experience I will never forget.
Also, one summer ago, I toured to Tel Aviv, Israel with Dance Theatre of Harlem. It was my first time in the Middle East and I absolutely loved everything about Israel. The country is beautiful and so full of culture and history. The people are very sweet too!
“Misty Copeland is an incredible woman and I am so grateful to have her in my life as a mentor and friend. She is someone I could definitely relate and connect to, and I think that’s why we share such a great bond. I think we've definitely had different paths as everyone does, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without her and other ballerinas of color who have paved the way for me.”
At this year's Dancer Palooza (America's Ultimate Dance Festival) you debuted your new Alison Stroming Collection for 5 Dancewear! Can you tell us how this partnership came about and what the process was like creating your own clothing line?
A little over a year ago I was contacted by Five Dancewear (formerly Company No. 5) to model for them. They flew me out to Utah for a weekend to shoot and teach some master classes at a local dance studio. The owner of the company and her family were so kind and we immediately clicked. This past fall, she asked me via email if I ever thought of designing dancewear. The brand was more for the jazz/contemporary dancer and she wanted to create more elegant, classical looks that would be geared towards a ballet dancer. I loved the idea and immediately started to put some sketches together, and it took off from there. At the moment, I have five leotards in my collection and I'm in the works of designing more!
What are some of your favorite pieces from your collection? Who would you love to see rocking your brand and why?
My two favorite pieces from my collection are two leotards called the “Alethea” and my newest addition, the “Sydney.” They are both very unique and fun and something new to the dance attire market. I wanted to create leotards for the versatile dancer like myself, a piece that could be worn for different styles of dance, auditions, and even performances. I am so grateful for all of the positive feedback I have received. I love seeing kids tag me in their posts on social media wearing my collection in photo shoots and dance competitions, it truly puts a big smile on my face.
There isn’t anyone in particular that I would love to see rocking my brand, but I would love for my brand to be featured in a fashion editorial. It is so interesting to see how dancewear is influencing fashion with bodysuits and ballet flats, and it would be incredible to see my leotards being used in a spread for Vogue or something like that.
You've taught dance classes for students as well as dance tutorials on your YouTube channel, which covers things like a Ballet Summer Intensive Guide, makeup tutorials, and various workout routines. Is YouTube a channel for growth for you, or do you prefer other social media outlets?
I recently started focusing on my YouTube channel and I love it! I love to create videos and share my knowledge and advice with my subscribers and viewers. I feel it’s also a great outlet to share my life on a more personal level and my audience can really get to know me. However, Instagram is my favorite and most popular social media outlet. I love how easy it is, and I end up spending hours just going through my feed and seeing what the world is up to. I also really like the new story feature!
Now let's talk fitness - do you have an everyday workout routine that you follow? What are some of your go-to routines to keep in shape?
To be honest, I do not have an everyday workout routine and I strongly dislike the gym! I will go to the gym to do some cardio and core work occasionally or when I am on layoff, but dance is highly physical and keeps me very active. Dance is my workout and cardio- I dance up to 8 hours everyday, it’s exhausting! On the weekends, I try to go to Pilates, which I love! I feel Pilates is so beneficial for a dancer and it keeps everything toned, strong, and in check. Being a New Yorker, I also like to walk and go for bike rides.
Are you also into green eating? How strict (or not strict) is your diet and are there any foods that you just can't live without?
I am not into green eating nor do I have a strict diet. I eat everything and love everything! Of course, I do eat healthy and watch what I eat because my health is a priority, but I do my best to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and occasionally have a cheat day and treat myself. I absolutely love sushi and could seriously eat it everyday for lunch and dinner if I could!
From working for the Dance TV Network to an adidas invite for #NationalYogaDay to published interviews and more, this year has been super busy for you so far. What have been a few of your favorite projects and what can we look forward to seeing from you in 2017?
I am so blessed and grateful for all I have accomplished this year. I really enjoyed filming with Popsugar and Fox 5 NY. Fox 5 was my first featured segment on television, and it was really exciting! It was so strange but awesome to get home from work and see myself on the 5 pm news!
Also, I was honored to be featured in Popsugar and to be compared to Misty Copeland as the next ballerina following in her footsteps. It is truly an honor! I have some new interviews in media and publications that I am looking forward to, as well as many more projects, opportunities, and creating new pieces in my dancewear line.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH to me means a strong, powerful woman. She is confident, comfortable in her own skin, and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and be a leader for others.
Photos by: Paristoribio