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Press Release: Elmhurst Ballet School students help the environment in new sustainable uniform

Jan McNulty

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As Elmhurst Ballet School students are training daily towards their career in dance, they are also helping the environment in a new uniform made of sustainable fabrics that originate from ocean waste and abandoned fishing nets.


Elmhurst Ballet School is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham and is a world-renowned centre of excellence in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. It prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to take their places on the world stage. 


Late in 2019, Elmhurst and dancewear supplier Dancing Boutique met to discuss making changes to its dance uniform for almost 200 students across its Lower and Upper Schools. 

Excited by the challenge, Dancing Boutique, who also provide uniforms for the Elmhurst Young Dancers weekend programme, turned to British designer, producer, and retailer Dansez for their Healthy Seas initiative and eco-friendly fabric to help create something special for the Birmingham school. Designs featuring the sustainable fabrics were submitted, samples produced and after Elmhurst’s approval, Dansez went into production in early 2020. 


Dansez, often cited as the benchmark in quality and design for British made dance, ballet and fitness clothes, is an ethical and planet friendly business. In 2018, with the aim to significantly reduce the impact of dancewear fashion on the environment, Dansez became a partner of the Healthy Seas initiative and the first dancewear producer to use sustainable fabrics originating from ocean waste. The regenerated fabrics come from the 640,000 tons of ghost fishing nets found on and around shipwrecks and reefs. Highly important places for marine wildlife, millions of animals, including dolphins, seals, turtles and birds suffer because of entanglement in the nets, leading to serious injuries or death. 


Dansez financially contributes towards the recovery of the ocean waste through specialist diving expeditions around the world, carried out by over 170 volunteer Healthy Seas’ divers. Through a unique purification process, over 510 tons of the recovered nylon fishing nets have been regenerated with other nylon waste to become ECONYL® Fibre. ECONYL, created by Aquafil, a leader in the synthetic fibres industry, has been used for Elmhurst’s new uniform. 


Kate Curtis, owner of Dancing Boutique, said: We have a passion for quality, design and style and work with both leading UK and international brands, as well as many smaller manufacturers who can supply unique designs or materials that we know dancers will love. 

We felt Dancing Boutique’s values very much aligned with those of Elmhurst and Dansez. It has been a real pleasure working on this project and we hope the dancers and the school love the finished product.


Samantha Carney, Managing Director of Dansez, said: At Dansez it is paramount we design and produce beautiful clothes that all dancers will enjoy wearing.  Dance clothes should be a joy to wear, to train and perform in. We pride ourselves on the fit and the finished product feeling so good that dancers should hardly know they are wearing them. 


We are delighted to work with Dancing Boutique and Elmhurst to design a new uniform that features these wonderful sustainable fabrics. Together we have made an environmental contribution that ensures the Elmhurst uniform is part of a circular economy, where waste is brought back to life in such a beautiful art form as ballet.


Jessica Wheeler, Principal of Elmhurst Ballet School, added: It has been a few years since we updated the uniform and we wanted to introduce more colours in the palette so each year group had their own identity in class. The sustainable aspect is part of a wider commitment to significantly play our part in creating a better environment. 


We have upgraded all lighting to energy-saving LED and our caterers Holroyd Howe have launched their Future Proof Food initiative at school. We have engaged a world leading provider of recycling services and encouraged students to think about a sustainable future through a student climate council. With this and the stunning new uniforms we hope our students have a successful career in dance and a greener future too.


Photo credit of Year 12 students in their new sustainable uniforms:  Alice Gibbins

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