Glamorous Titania in George Balanchine's
A Midsummer Night's Dream. The imperious principal woman in Balanchine's Agon. These are the types of juicy, career-making roles veteran dancers aspire to—but a 19-year-old in New York City Ballet's corps has already put her distinctive stamp on both of them.
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.
Did you know that today marks the anniversary of not one but two iconic George Balanchine ballets?
Stars and Stripes, that delightfully tongue-in-check confection (which you probably know from Center Stage), premiered on January 17, 1958. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Balanchine's brilliant take on Shakespeare's classic story and Felix Mendelssohn's gorgeous score, premiered January 17, 1962. (Not the most logical date to debut a summery ballet, maybe, but that didn't stop audiences from loving it.)
Happy birthday, you two! I made you some cakes. You're welcome.