In the same way that choreography and performance create a storyline, costumes can transport an audience to a certain mood or period with fabrics alone. Three costume departments gave us insight into how they prepare for ballets, Broadway shows, and road shows.
Marc Happel, Costume Director, New York City Ballet
Main Responsibilities: “I oversee an 18-person costume store that produces all of the costumes used for NYCB. It’s a juggling exercise between keeping the repertoire as close as possible to what it was on the day it premiered and working with new ones. designers who create for new ballets. One of my biggest jobs is making sure the dancers are happy, making sure the costume doesn’t affect them in any way, so all they think about is the choreography. “
Fall Fashion Gala: “I start working on the fall gala in the spring, helping the choreographers choose a designer. Then I work closely with that designer to make their creations dance. They are two different worlds, the track against the stage. . They need to incorporate stretch. Fabrics, and consider things like how stage lighting changes the way colors appear. “
Preserving pieces of history: “My biggest challenge is keeping the original costumes from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Some of those fabrics don’t exist anymore, or they don’t come in the same color palettes. So we will be working with the ballet masters who danced with Balanchine, dyeing the fabrics ourselves or, on rare occasions, working with companies in Europe who weave fabrics for us in the color we want. “
Catherine Zuber, costume designer of the Moulin Rouge! Musical comedy
From sketch to scene: “I started two summers ago, meeting with the director and the creative team to talk about their vision for the show. I read the script and did character decompositions to give them a glimpse of who they are when we first see them, who they become and how they relate to other characters. In a show like this, where there’s a lot of dancing, it’s about coming up with patterns that reflect time and place, but also support the choreography. Once the sketches are finished, we decide on the fabrics and start the fittings. During the technical rehearsals, my day starts at 10 in the morning, and we are here until midnight, bringing together all the elements: music, choreography, lighting, how the setting works, where rapid changes occur.
Find inspiration: “I looked at a lot of photographs from the Belle Époque in Paris. There is a section in the show that is a production that was put together by Toulouse-Lautrec, so I recreated characters from his paintings. costumes are hand painted, and even the wigs are rubber so that from head to toe the actors look like a painting. I also took inspiration from John Galliano’s 2006 couture collection for a dress that Karen Olivo wears in satin. Galliano has taken elements from specific epochs, deconstructing them and reinterpreting them in a brilliant way that I find quite inspiring. “
Make period pieces portable: “We have to make sure people can get in and out quickly. In the past, corsets had hooks and eyes, but ours have hidden zippers. A lot of dancers wear a very flexible corset with stockings, gloves. high and heeled boots. It’s totally mobile. We also need to build things for durability, especially for the choir when doing heavy dance numbers – the costumes need to hold up to eight shows a week, but they cannot be too heavy. ”
Derek Hough Live! Tour Costume and Wardrobe Team
Preparation before the show: “I’ve known Daniela for almost 20 years and Derek for 15 years now. We all worked together on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ For this tour, I focused on Derek and the men in the ensemble, and Daniela has designed costumes for women. North Carolina to handle any last minute changes. ” —Steven Lee, costume designer
Design challenges: “’Dancing with the stars’ is so different from designing for the stage. The TV is close-up, so you tend to want to tone it down a bit so that it doesn’t look too crazy. On stage. , you need more rhinestones or something to make it “pow.” My biggest challenge with touring is the quick changes. You know they’re going to happen, but until you’re on stage and as you’re running the show, you don’t really know what that minute will bring you. ” —Daniela Gschwendtner, costume designer
On the road: “I worked with Daniela and Steven before the tour to maintain their vision and then with Derek right on the road to make sure he was happy with everything. We cleaned and fixed the costumes, which mainly involved replacing the zippers, re-beading and rhinestones. The quick changes were probably the most stressful part. We had a small room under the stage where Derek was changing, so the location of his quick changes stayed the same, but overall that changed every time we got to a new scene.You have to be able to see all the details like the zippers, hooks and grommets, and laces on the shoes, so we wore headlamps. We looked ridiculous. ” —Josie Day, Wardrobe Supervisor