Studio to Street: How Royal Ballet Principal Anna Rose O’Sullivan Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

December 23, 2022

It doesn’t get more magical than Christmastime in London, and Royal Ballet principal dancer Anna Rose O’Sullivan is all about the holiday season—from Nutcracker performances to decorations (both setting them up in her own flat and enjoying them around the city). She also makes a notable shift in her wardrobe, putting aside her Bohemian-inspired summer dresses for sleek cuts and neutral colors. “In the winter months, I like a chic black,” she says. “It’s always a winner with a splash of color,” she adds, referring to what she calls her red Ted Baker “Christmas coat.”

She does the same for more formal events, trading in jeans for a little black dress (much like her style icon, Audrey Hepburn). “My mum always said, ‘You can never go wrong with a little black dress.’ And I think because I have that in my head, every time I go shopping I find an excuse to buy one.” She likes to pair it with red heels for a classic party look.

In a mirrored dance studio, Anna Rose O'Sullivan does a relevé attitude derriere on pointe with her left leg high behind her and her arms pressed back. She wears a black turtleneck leotard, pink tights and pointe shoes, and a white practice tutu. Her reflection is visible in the mirror to the left.
Photo by Laura Gallant for Pointe.

At the barre, O’Sullivan forgoes ballet slippers, opting for socks, which help her to feel the floor better (including the occasional Christmas-themed set). But O’Sullivan really gets into the holiday spirit when she’s preparing for Nutcracker performances. “In my dressing room just before a show, putting on the Sugar Plum Fairy wig and changing my appearance is one of the most important parts of getting into the role,” O’Sullivan says. “I have glitter all over me until about August of the next year,” she adds, laughing, “but it’s quite a dream ballerina moment—that whole month for me is just like I’m a child again.”

O’Sullivan gets that same sense of joy as a patron for London Children’s Ballet, a charitable organization that gives children access to and training in the performing arts. “I took part in it growing up, and from there, I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School, so it played an important role in my life coming into this career,” says O’Sullivan, who attends fundraisers and performances for the organization. “I enjoy supporting where I can, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of dancers.”

The Details—Street

Anna Rose O'Sullivan stands outside on a cobblestone street at nighttime. The streets are decorated with strung white lights, wreaths and other Christmas decor. O'Sullivan wears a bright red raincoat, dark pants and heeled boots, and she carries a large black purse. She smiles towards the camera.
Photo by Laura Gallant for Pointe.

Ted Baker coat: “I like clean lines for my outfits, and Ted Baker is always good for a coat.”

Karen Millen jeans: “I like the shape of these black jeans,” O’Sullivan says of one of her go-to

brands. “I’ll always wear a belt with it to finish off the outfit.”

Boots: “I really enjoy wearing heels,” says O’Sullivan. “I strangely find it helpful on the calf during the day.”

Kate Spade handbag: “I always like to match my bag with my outfit.”

The Details—Studio

Anna Rose O'Sullivan poses in a large dance studio. She stands in profile facing the left, her arms relaxed at her sides and her right foot propped up onto pointe. She turns her head to look at the camera. She wears a black turtleneck leotard, a black and gray patterned skirt, pink tights, gray legwarmers and pointe shoes.
Photo by Laura Gallant for Pointe.

Bloch leotard: “I like wearing black or blue leotards in the studio,” says O’Sullivan, who is an official Bloch influencer.

Designed by Alice skirt: “This is from the new Designed by Alice collection,” she says, adding that she usually wears skirts and legwarmers for class. As for rehearsals, “with upcoming Sugar Plum and Aurora rehearsals, I’ll be living in my practice tutu,” she says with a laugh.

Anna Rose O'Sullivan, her blond hair long, sits on the floor in a dance studio, crossing one leg underneath her and crossing the other one over. She wears a black turtleneck leotard, white practice tutu, pink tights and pointe shoes, and she looks directly at the camera and smiles.
Photo by Laura Gallant for Pointe.

Pointe shoes: O’Sullivan wears a custom Bloch shoe with innovation by revered pointe shoe maker Bob Martin. “We call them ‘Blobs,’ ” she says. After sewing her ribbons and elastic, she darns the tip and “bashes” her shoes to make them quieter, “which is always quite fun,” she says. “My newest thing has been to wear them a couple of times and then shellac them, which makes them last longer and molds the shoe to your foot a little bit once you sweat in it again.”