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This New York City Playwright’s First Official Video Offers Up a Fantastical Take on the Classic Ballerina Tutu

Hennessey on the New York Dolls, the costuming of Zhe Zhe, and her first video for “Sleeping Beauty.”

12.9.2019

When Leah Hennessey starts describing some of the influences of her band’s first official video, “Sleeping Beauty,” you can tell straight away that she’s a pop culture fanatic.

Hennessey on the New York Dolls, the costuming of Zhe Zhe, and her first video for “Sleeping Beauty.”

, which she co-wrote and starred in with collaborator Emily Allan at Chinatown’s MX Gallery toward the end of last year, then you probably already clocked her skill at synthesizing a wide swath of cultural references. Hennessey and Allan’s work might touch on their obsession with BBC’s

The band also includes musicians E.J. O’Hara and Malachy O’Neill but is simply called Hennessey; they have a forthcoming debut EP out this fall on Velvet Elk Records. “Sleeping Beauty” is their first official video, and it flits between shots of Hennessey in a full face of gleaming silver makeup, her hair a shock of braids as she vamps in front of a metallic wall in a white tutu, to her dancing in a blazer and a T-shirt, a replica of one from

. “I was going for a feral balletic ethereality to evoke the fairy-tale aspect of the song,” she describes. Plus, she never before had an excuse to wear a tutu.

’s website, they describe the show’s main characters as “draggy campy ‘girls’ who would do anything for a moment in the spotlight,” and their costuming reflects this—think pink paisley blazers paired with striped trousers or leopard print faux-fur coats. “It’s always been ultrabaroque and garish,” Hennessy says. “We like to think that we popularized the ‘wig as hat’ look.”

, however, which sort of mirrors her IRL fashion trajectory. Allan and Hennessey wore black leotards and jazz shoes (although there were still a few wigs as hats thrown in for good measure), which Hennessy said forced a rethink of her relationship to clothing. “As someone who always depended on clothes as armor, standing in front of people in a leotard was humiliating and unmasking in a thrilling way,” she says. “It made me realize that how I move is its own outfit, and I don’t ever need to be afraid of looking too normal.”

, a 1963 horror film, recently made her speechless for a moment. “I had forgotten that a pleated skirt could still do that to me.” Maybe Hennessey’s own video will have the same effect on you. Only time will tell.

Read more: Vogue Magazine

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