Few places seem more glamorous—at least from the outside—than the ballet costume shop. World-class seamstresses lovingly handcrafting the gorgeous tutus that sparkle on our favorite ballerinas? It sounds like some kind of magical fairyland.
In reality, though, a lot of difficult, painstaking work goes into constructing ballet costumes. When the costume shop is recreating well-known older pieces, the task is even harder. New costumes can be adapted and rethought along the way, but with reconstructions, there's zero wiggle room design-wise. Old costumes also frequently include trims and fabrics that are nearly impossible to find these days.
New York City Ballet recently redid all of the wonderful costumes for George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream, originally created by Barbara Karinska in 1962. (''There is Shakespeare for literature, Karinska for costumes," Balanchine famously said.) The New York Times has a nifty story about all the hurdles costume director Marc Happel and his team had to jump during the process. For example: The shop imported more than 625 yards of colored tulle from Italy. They researched old photos and videos to try to determine what each outfit first looked like, before decades of nips and tucks and quick fixes. They looked at the insides of costumes, which hadn't faded under stage lights, to determine original colors.
There are all kinds of other fun facts in the story—it's worth reading the whole thing. There's also a great little slideshow illustrating the reconstruction process. Take a look at some of our favorite photos, below.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.