Magazine article Pointe

Dancer Spotlight: Susan Roemer

Magazine article Pointe

Dancer Spotlight: Susan Roemer

Article excerpt

The Smuin Ballet star is tailoring a second career as a costume designer.

Looking around Susan Roomer's San Francisco apart* ment, you'd never know she's a ballerina. There are no performance mementos on the walls, no basket of unsewn pointe shoes hinting at her role as one of Smuin Ballet's most versatile dancers. Hailed for the edgy sensibility she brings to contemporary work like Trey McIntyre's Oh. Inverted World, she's also beloved for the endearing charm she exudes in character-based pieces like Amy Seiwert's Dear Miss Cline.

What you do learn, pretty quickly, is that she's a costume designer. The hall closet is stacked floor to ceiling with storage tubs full of fabrics and patterns. Her studio consists of a clothing rack, a worktable and four sewing machines stationed a few feet from her bed. Roemer literally lives, sleeps and dreams costumes.

She bought her first sewing machine on Craigslist on a whim three years ago. "I didn't even know how to thread it," she admits. After picking up the basics on YouTube, she sketched a few patterns on the back of Christmas wrap. Soon friends like San Francisco Ballet soloist Sasha De Sola were placing orders for her dancewear, prized for its impeccable fit and details like angular mesh inserts and bold blocks of color. S-Curve Apparel & Design was born.

Word spread quickly, and SFB corps member Myles Thatcher commissioned Roemer to make costumes for In the Passerine's Clutch, a piece he choreographed for the company's 2013 gala. It was only her third project. "I had to act like I knew what I was doing! I was way out of my league," she recalls. Thatcher disagrees. "She's amazing," he says. "She knows what dancers want to accentuate and what they want to hide." Her unitards in ombré shades of ivory, rust and russet made an earthy complement to Passerine's sinuous pas de deux and organic lifts. …

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