Rodrigo Almalares and Sirui Liu, both principal dancers out of the Cincinati Ballet decided that they wanted to change up the dancewear game. They started a company that makes unique and interesting leotards called Dancewear Royale. We’ve just received it in-store and to say they’ve upped the ante would be an understatement. I had the opportunity to speak with Co-Owner Rodrigo Almalares via Zoom and ask him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say.
Brio (Abby Carroll): How have you been during the pandemic?
Dancewear Royale Co-Owner (Rodrigo Almalares): We’ve been actually very busy. To be honest, in the first couple of weeks we were not. We were caught off guard like the rest of the world was. After that, we decided to change things up and we decided to take this time to come up with new stuff and to keep evolving.
Brio: Has it affected business at all?
Rodrigo: Yes. Well, the first two, three weeks it did, but now slowly business has started to pick up. Like I said, we’re coming up with new things. Not dancing in the studio right now, It’s not necessarily the best. We’re trying to come up with things that you can do outside and things that you can wear outside.
Brio: That sounds great! Can you tell me a little bit about your dance career?
Rodrigo: Where do we start? Well, I’ve been dancing since I was seven years old. Then I actually lived in Canada from when I was 15 until 18. I was in the National Ballet School of Canada. Before then I was in the National Ballet School of Mexico and the National Ballet School of Cuba.
Then after Canada I went to Hamburg Ballet school and that’s where I got my first job in Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Germany. Then, after that, I actually did a TV show in Italy. I stayed there for almost half a year. Then I came to the US where I joined Boston Ballet before joining the Cincinnati Ballet where I did most of my career. That’s where I went up to be a principal.
Brio: When did you know that you wanted to do this professionally? When did it become more than just a hobby?
Rodrigo: I was born into it. My mom and my dad were both ballet dancers. My mom was first soloist with the Cuban National Ballet and my dad was also with the Cuban National Ballet. Since I was very little I’ve been going to the theater and the studios and I’ve been watching all of that. Actually, I was supposed to start ballet when I was 10, but they got me in when I was seven.
Brio: That’s amazing. Then to follow up on both of those questions, what has it been like being a dancer during this pandemic?
Rodrigo: Actually, I can tell you from my wife’s perfect perspective, she’s also a ballet dancer, I retired about a year and a half, two years ago. It’s been hard because they were pretty much going full out rehearsing every day and they were about to have shows. Then everything was canceled and they were like, “You guys are canceled for a month.” Then it was, “Okay, it’s canceled for two months. “Now it’s canceled”. It’s been hard.
The life of a dancer is just dancing. When you don’t have that, it’s like a big chunk of your life is gone, but I’ve been adjusting as well. She’s also part of this business, so it’s not like she hasn’t had anything to do, but for other dancers that I do know; it’s been really, really hard.
Brio: I can imagine. It would be a huge change for sure. What made you decide to start Dancewear Royale?
Rodrigo: My wife. She had been thinking about working on dancewear and she had some ideas, some designs as well. I joined in and I also started designing a little bit, although most of the designs actually came from her. I just said, “Let’s do it.” We just dove right into it, but we wanted to do it in a different way. We just didn’t want to start another dancewear company because there are 10,000 of them. I’m sure you know, we were able to customize all leos and we created this new tech where you can have 3D versions of the leo and you can play with them. You can actually see how they’re going to look in real life without having to imagine it.
Rodrigo: We decided that our brand was not going to be just a leotard or dancewear company. But more of a fashion inspired dancewear company to make people feel a lot better. We also included some utilities into our dancewear. I’m sure you know the “Hoodlili” That’s one of the first leos with a hoodie. It’s got the magnets so it doesn’t come up if you don’t want it up. It has pockets. It’s got a lot of things. We’re including a lot of that into our designs as well.
Brio: It is clear that Dancewear Royale is different than anything else we’ve ever seen before. What was the inspiration behind the line?
Rodrigo: Yes. We were designing some leotards and basically it was that, we didn’t want to be just another dancewear company. We really wanted to really stick out. Not only designing leotards or dancewear based on , how it looks on a dancer, but also how you could somehow wear this leotard on the street as well. The designs are very different. Some of them are very asymmetrical, some of them have very cool patterns. It was basically making the dancers look very fashionable in the studio.
It’s funny because the company that I used to dance in, Cincinnati Ballet, we have this reviewer from a newspaper and he said that before he used to come to the studio and see the rehearsals and it was very plain, it was very normal colors. Then after we came up with the line he noticed the change that everybody in the city was wearing all this amazing designs and very colorful, things like that. That’s basically what we wanted, just make you feel as pretty as possible when you’re in class.
Brio: Absolutely. What are your future plans for the company?
Rodrigo: Right now we’re working on the new stuff. All I can say is, we’re working on activewear, but once again, it’s activewear with a twist. Activewear that looks awesome. There’s a thousand companies that make activewear, but we’re working on basically doing what we did with dancewear.
Brio: That’s great.That’s all the questions that I had for today. Again, thank you so much. we’re super excited to have the line here.
Brio: We’re looking forward to seeing what else you guys come up with.
Rodrigo: Soon. I think within the next couple weeks you’ll hear from us. [chuckles]
Brio: Looking forward to it. Thank you so much.
Rodrigo: Thank you.
Click here to see a Youtube video of the Dancewear Royale leotards available at Brio: https://youtu.be/0ITvIjPooXg