Barette Widell: From Pro Dancer to Teacher, Mother and CEO
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
Capezio Athlete Barette Widell might have kissed the stage goodbye a year and a half ago, but this ballerina has not stopped spinning in and out of the dance studio and new creative opportunities since.
A former soloist with The Pennsylvania Ballet, Widell had a remarkable dance career boasting training with the greats like Cynthia Gregory and at schools like The School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet, and all before nine seasons dancing professionally in Philadelphia. She was even featured as one of the four swan dancers in the Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman.
Now, while Widell may not be pirouetting under the glare of stage lights, she is just as busy training up future generations of dancers, raising her ten-month-old son, and establishing her own weddings and special events company, Widell Designs. I dare say she might be even busier.
When asked why she decided to retire from the stage, Widell explained, “I felt that I needed to fulfill my other dreams in life because at that point dance was really all I did or had known. I’d always wanted to get into business and have a family and do other things outside of dance, even though for so long ballet had been my number one love and priority in life. So it all eventually came down to timing. I decided to make the change and I’m very happy that I did.”
When she retired from dancing in December 2012, she was six weeks pregnant. She said the highlights of her career were being promoted to soloist, dancing the role of Dew Drop in The Nutcracker and being proposed to onstage by her husband. Yet, as a mother, she can now say one of her bigger life highlights was having her son, who was born in August 2013.
Making the transition from professional ballerina to full-time mother, dance teacher and small business CEO has not necessarily been an easy one, but Widell says she loves it and is excited about this new phase in life. Around Philadelphia she can be seen teaching various dance classes every week, helping to keep her in shape and dancing.
“I teach all the time! I teach at Koresh School of Dance and also at Ovations Dance Studio. Plus, I teach at Jazz Unlimited and I lead a ‘Mommy-and-Me’ Workout Class at Sculpere,” she exclaimed. At Koresh, an open professional-level studio, she teaches intermediate/advanced ballet to adults while at the other schools she teaches pre-professional dancers from eight year olds to adults.
Widell loves teaching the Mommy-and-Me Workout Class, which utilizes different sculpting techniques based on ballet. In addition to running, she has used these exercises to help her recover from pregnancy and get back in shape.
While dancing, teaching and even running, Widell prefers to wear clothes from Capezio’s new Studio by Capezio range. This new range of activewear includes tees, tanks, bras and capris, many featuring bright summer colors. Building off of Capezio’s 125+ year history, this range is made of light, strong and flexible material with feminine and graceful designs to help you embrace your inner ballerina.
“For me personally, I don’t like to wear the tight fitting leotards and products anymore, so these new options are wonderful,” Widell said. “I think the new sweats and sweatshirts are cute and loose fitting, but stylish. Also, the new bra tops are really supportive. Especially for me, having had a baby, the extra support is really needed and appreciated! I think the new range looks well crafted but also really fashionable and cute.”
She added, “For teachers, these pieces are great! As a teacher, it can be hard not wanting to wear a leotard and tights, but still wanting to be in something that can move. These athletic options are ideal!”
When Widell’s not busy in a dance studio or taking care of her growing baby boy, she’s busy making brides’ dreams come true. Her significant dance experience comes in handy here too, as weddings are often like big productions. And who better knows and understands the importance of perfecting intricate details and making a fantasy into a reality than a ballerina?
On her wedding planning business, Widell said, “I really enjoy it because I feel it challenges me artistically… It pushes my creative skills, requiring me to put together designs and brainstorm new ideas.”
While juggling the many details of wedding planning can be time consuming and easily overwhelming when also teaching and being a mom, Widell concludes that it is worth it. It may be “really difficult” but it is fulfilling.
Widell admits she might miss fulltime professional dancing some days, but that’s what teaching is for – to get back in the studio and to give back to the world. With her son playing at her feet, Widell concluded, “I was so fortunate to have the career I did, but I reached the right time in which to make some healthy changes in my life. Now I get to challenge myself in new ways.”
To read more about Barette Widell, visit her Capezio Athlete profile here.
To learn more about Barette's wedding and special events company visit www.widelldesigns.com.
Photos courtesy of Barette Widell.