Sunday, June 15, 2014

New costumes for Giselle

I had the great good fortune to see a preview of new costumes for Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet's new 'Giselle' recently. 

It was a great afternoon, in one of the conference rooms at the Phelps Center, surrounded by props and stage models and two of the new costumes for Giselle herself.


A combination of what thinking and research goes into a new production's costumes and scenic designs, and a WHOLE lot about polyester chiffon (perhaps I was just paying more attention to what bedevils me).  In the case of PNB's multilayered costume as shown above, the sourcing and availability for the chiffon determined what kind they would use. Even costume shops have to live in the real world like we do. And yes, the outer skirt has a ribbon sewn to the hem. Possibly nine yards of ribbon on the hem of that full round skirt.




The part that surprised me is the small number of costumes vs the larger number of dancers (2 costume sets for 4 or 5 Giselles). The practice is: most dancers in the company are about the same size, and there's a fair amount of stretch in the tech fabrics they use now. 

Bonus information: they deodorize rather than clean, and they use vodka. Picture the tiny senior wardrobe mistress going to the big box store to buy five gallons of vodka. And see her loading up the spray bottles back at the shop. Kids, don't try this at home!

Kaori Nakamura

new Giselle

Principal dancers Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz in Giselle.
old Giselle


Telling the story of Giselle involves a fair amount of 'ballet mime'. Check out that link for a two page guide to story ballet's finest ghost story.


Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2011 production of Giselle has been staged by PNB artistic director Peter Boal, based in part on primary sources from Paris and St. Petersburg, with the assistance of dance historians Marian Smith and Doug Fullington. In 2014, new scenery and costumes designed by Jérôme Kaplan will be added to the production.

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