Ballet Memphis' Julie Marie Niekrasz's Channels Grace Kelly With Vintage Finds

February 2, 2016

This story originally appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of

Julie Marie Niekrasz doesn’t shop often, but when she does, you won’t find her at the mall. “I love vintage clothing,” the Ballet Memphis dancer says. “I think I owe a lot of that to my older sister, who has a really fun sense of style.” And her fondness for the past extends beyond clothing—she even owns a vintage KitchenAid mixer. Niekrasz favors local boutiques, where she looks for clean lines and elegant silhouettes from the 1950s and ’60s, in a color palette of grays, blues and blacks. She brings the same aesthetic into the studio, though she’s also conscious of her partners and the repertoire. When rehearsing a piece where she’ll be bare-legged, “I’ll try to wear shorts so that the guys have an easier transition period, so they can get the grip of my leg right,” Niekrasz says. “If it’s a pink-tights ballet like Nutcracker or Romeo & Juliet, then I’ll be rehearsing in full ballet-pink wear.” When she thinks of a style icon, the first person who comes to mind is Grace Kelly. “She’s the epitome of classic,” Niekrasz says. “I just love that old charm in clothes. In a way, I wish we all still dressed like that.”

Kyle Froman for Pointe

The Details—Street

Vintage dress:
“It’s from a store called Red Velvet Vintage. I really like to support the local shops in Memphis.”

“They’re in the shape of the state of Tennessee, even though I’m from Chicago. But it’s been my home for 12 years, so I’m a Memphian now.”

Target boots:
“I love boots. I can’t wear heels anymore—not after being in pointe shoes for nine hours a day!”

Kyle Froman for Pointe

The Details—Studio

Halter leotard:
“I wear this all the time because it’s different, and elegant.” It was given to her by former Ballet Memphis dancer Maria Gabriela Moros, who made it.

Yumiko skirt:
“I usually wear Pilates pants every day because I teach Pilates. If I’m not teaching, it’s fun to dress up and wear a skirt to work.”

Freed of London pointe shoes:
“I just switched to Z maker because my other maker retired. It’s like learning how to dance again.”