Catch Devon Teuscher, a 30-year-old principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre in New York, walking around the streets in her Brooklyn neighborhood, and you’ll likely find her adorable, fluffy Cavapoo dog Riley at her side. But there’s one thing you won’t ever see her in: flip-flops. The unsupportive shoe is, after all, the stuff of a professional dancer’s nightmares.
“They’re the worst thing for your feet,” she told HuffPost. “You also have to use your big toe to hold it on, which causes tendonitis and calf issues. I mean, you might find me in a heel if I have to wear it, but a flip-flop? Absolutely never.”
And it makes sense for Teuscher. She does, after all, have a job that requires not only her body (and feet) to be healthy, but a wardrobe ― both at work and at home ― that allows her to move freely.
And so we decided to follow Teuscher for a day to learn more about the intricacies of every little piece of clothing — pointe shoes and tutus too — that she wears throughout the day.
Comfort is the word at the forefront of Teuscher’s clothing decisions, including her favorite pair of Madewell jeans (the Cali Demi Boot Cut) and sneakers, which are made by GaitLine, a shoe company founded by Håvard Engell, a former professional ballet dancer. The shoes are designed to promote proper walking and gait, two things Teuscher was happy to get behind when the company offered for her to try a pair of their shoes a couple of years ago. Her fellow dancers, she said, were quick to snag a pair once they, too, realized the shoes were designed with the foot in mind.
“Basically all of the dancers now wear these sneakers because they’re so comfortable,” Teuscher said. “So if you ever see someone wearing GaitLines, they’re probably a dancer.”
Teuscher said the sneakers take her straight into the studio, where she slips into her first leotard-and-tights combo of the day, along with her favorite one-piece warmup suit from Chacott. It’s a garbage-bag-esque suit that keeps her body warm, and she owns two, in black and purple.
“I cannot take class without it,” she said, explaining that it helps to get her muscles “extra warm” at the barre and ready for rehearsal.
From there, Teuscher sheds her warmups and socks, taking the remainder of class in her leotard and tights, as well as pointe shoes made by Bloch. Teuscher wears the Alpha style, a shoe that is custom fit to her foot and retails for about $94 a pair. Depending on where the company is in the season, Teuscher can burn through one to two pairs of pointe shoes per day. When she’s onstage, she’ll likely go through two per performance. All of her shoes are provided by ABT.
Speaking of her pointe shoes, the process of getting them ready is a production all on its own. Teuscher says she first puts toe pads — which is a padding that encases and protects her toes — on her foot and then covers her foot with her tights.
“I like to leave my heel out in the back, so my shoes don’t slip off my heel,” she said. “Then, I put my shoe on my foot over the toe pad and tights.”
Teuscher also regularly has a pair of convertible tights on hand so she has the option to have her tights either inside her shoes or outside of them entirely. (The tights have a small hole on the bottom so she can easily pull them over her toes and heel to remove her foot.)
Another thing she has on rotation? Leotards. When the company is in rehearsal weeks (which Teuscher said is the case for the majority of the year), it starts class at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and then rehearses from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. All of that adds up to some serious sweat, Teuscher said, meaning she’s in and out of a few of her favorite leotards throughout the day. Her top choices include Australian-born Keto Dancewear, a style she favors for its athletic cuts and fun graphic designs. Teuscher also loves Jai-Dee Dancewear, a new company that designs its leotards using regenerated nylon fiber that is made from pre- and post-consumer waste (e.g., fishing nets, industrial plastic waste and fabric scraps).
“I just love what they stand for,” she said.
Teuscher also loves to support fellow ABT dancer April Giangeruso and her colorful line, Chameleon Activewear.
“They’re all bright and funky and designed with really unique patterns and styles,” she said. “All the dancers here [at ABT] really love them and wear a lot of her leotards.”
She added: “They’re fun because they’re more unique, you know? You’re not just in a plain black leotard. It’s a design and pattern — so it’s fun.”
As for tutus (because what dancer’s wardrobe is complete without one?), Teuscher says she’ll wear a rehearsal tutu if she’s rehearsing a piece that will require a tutu onstage.
She added: “It is especially important when doing partnering work as it affects the way a man partners — he can’t see your legs or feet!” Her favorite rehearsal tutu is one that was passed along to her by fellow principal dancer Gillian Murphy.
And while she has an understated personal style, Teuscher says she feels inspired by other dancers — like her best friend and fellow dancer Connor Holloway — who have fun with fashion or play around with trends, even if it’s something she won’t try herself.
“I feel like there are a lot of dancers and companies that are now taking such risks and making really exciting choices. I’m not like that, but I love admiring it.”
When Teuscher does go out for dinner with her friends or to an event, she’ll opt for something dressy (preferably paired with flats), like a blue Aritzia dress she recently wore to her best friend’s wedding.
But for the next month, Teuscher will spend time outside of the studio. ABT just finished up its fall season, which included performances by Teuscher in George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” and Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Seasons,” in which she danced the role of the winter season. For Teuscher, that means some rest time — albeit with a mix of Pilates, Gyrotonic, personal training and physical therapy to keep her body conditioned — before gearing up for “Nutcracker” season.
All of that means more time for Teuscher to slip into her go-to jeans, T-shirt and sneakers, as well as keep her hair — which is typically in a bun — and makeup low-key, her preferred day-to-day and, yes, comfortable look.
“When you’re comfortable you feel more confident,” she said. “It makes you feel more beautiful.
“And I feel like me.”