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It's a jungle out there

The dancers from Next Generation Ballet, affiliated with Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts, bring out their animal instincts for a fashion shoot in this month’s Bay. (And now it's online.) They take leaps, jumps and twirls and once or twice perform a magnificent lift. Dancers step out of their normal routines but still stretch before each pose, plus build rapport with the photographer. Their jungle playground may not always be as wild as the real thing, but rigorous practices keep them sharp. Under artistic director Peter Star, NGB students study at the Patel Conservatory for months, sometimes years, striving to out do other dancers then take their moves to New York City or even abroad. So there you have it. Meet Hannah, Olivia and Katarina, stars of the 2013-2014 season. (And stick with us until the end to see a behind-the-scenes video from the photo shoot.)

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With the balance of a FLAMINGO, Olivia Gusti poses en pointe in a Carmen Havens wool houndstooth faux fur/leather trim jacket, $250 (carmenhavensdesigns.com), and purple vintage feather cap, $78 (La France Boutique, 1612 Seventh Ave., Ybor City). Olivia, 16, is studying at the Dresden Semperoper Ballett in Germany for the next three years.
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Hannah Stanford was made for the role of the BLACK SWAN, with her Alice & Olivia leather/mesh cropped tank, $396 (Neiman Marcus, International Plaza in Tampa), and Ellie Tahari skinny leather pants, $150 (Repeat Performance Boutique, 4343 Henderson Blvd., Tampa). Hannah, 16, from Tampa, started ballet at age 6. After studying at the School of American Ballet in New York City this summer, she heads to the Royal Ballet School in London for three years.
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Hannah dances in her Unique Vintage sequined flapper dress, $348 (La France) as elegant as a PEACOCK. (A female is called a peahen; babies are called peachicks.) Hannah’s favorite thing in ballet is the performance, and it takes dedication to get on stage. “If you want to be serious, you have to give up things in your life other kids our age have,” she says, “but it’s what we love to do.”
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With the sleekness of a BLACK PANTHER, Katarina Smith falls into her role wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress with tufted sleeves, $350, and statement ring, $45 (both from Repeat Performance). Katarina, 16, has been dancing since she was 8. She joined the Patel Conservatory at the Straz several years ago; like many other NGB students, she juggles academics and dance.
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Like a fierce, graceful leopard, Olivia leaps in a Haute Hippie tie-dyed tank, $185, Rich & Skinny pants, $165, and Burberry Brit ivory leather moto jacket, $1,017 (all from Neiman Marcus). Earlier this year, Olivia and her father traveled to Switzerland for a competition. The dancer counts her father as one of her biggest advocates.
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Katarina plays LION king (or queen) in a Neto brown fur/black leather cropped top, $55 (Repeat Performance); animal print vintage satin pants, $36, and a rabbit fur wrap, $398 (both from La France). At age 14, Katarina performed to a sold-out audience at Lincoln Center in New York City. She will return to Patel in the fall.
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In a one-of-a-kind Carmen Havens maxi dress, Olivia stands en pointe with one leg in the air as graceful as a GIRAFFE. The Italian silk chiffon and tulle dress with a safari/floral print, $395 (carmenhavensdesigns.com). is paired with bamboo bangles, set of three, $18 (Repeat Performance).
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Hannah’s favorite performance at the Straz was as the lead in Sleeping Beauty. Here, she moves like an elegant WHITE SWAN in an Alice & Olivia Eaddy embellished faux leather gown, $1,998 (Neiman Marcus). Feather fan in ivory/white, $288, and serpent/wing brass necklace, $98 (both from LaFrance).
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Like ZEBRA stripes, Hannah’s ballet moves contrast with every performance. She always looks cool and in control, and before performing, she likes total silence. Rag & Bone white Noah tank, $95, and Clover Canyon black/white stripe drawstring pants, $216 (both from Neiman Marcus); Escada jacket (part of a two-piece suit), $64, silver ring, $48, silver shimmer round ring, $25, two-stone ring with silver wraps, $25 (all from Repeat Performance).
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Hannah curls like a SNAKE around Jackson Kettel of Tampa in an Ellie Tahari black/white punch-out topper, $568; 7 for All Mankind snake-print skinny jean, $216, and Brunello Cucinelli natural fox fur collar necklace, $775 (all from Neiman Marcus). Crystal/Stone statement ring, black & silver, $25 (Repeat Performance).
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Olivia is inspired by the outdoors as she leaps like a COUGAR in an Ann Taylor blouse, $16 (Repeat Performance Boutique), 1970s fur patchwork vest with leather tie front, $98 (LaFrance Boutique), leggings, $59 (Dillard’s).
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