In classical ballet, costumes are the opposite of warm-up attire. Bodices, headpieces and tutus intended for onstage wearing emphasize look over feel, illusion over comfort, restraint over stretch. Abigail Mentzer, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s newest female soloist, easily fits into the smallest hook-and-eye settings on the Sugarplum Fairy’s bodice. But the elegant 27-year-old prefers to rehearse in her own, more giving line of handmade dancewear. Born of sewing lessons with ballet principal Martha Chamberlain, Abigail Mentzer Designs’ slinky-fabric skirts and low-backed leotards now outfit dancers nationwide — keeping the wispy seamstress-ballerina busy onstage and off. “Dance is subjective,” she says. “Sewing has a tangible end product.” See her this month in The Nutcracker, where she’ll dance both the female lead and “Marzipan.”
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