Curriculum-based activities and background information for Teachers.All About Ballet Resources
Scottish Ballet's Artistic Director Ashley Page and designer Antony McDonald have worked together on several productions, drawing on ideas from the original versions of stories like Cinderella to create visually stunning and original shows.
The designs for Scottish Ballet’s production of Cinderella take inspiration from fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Some fashion designers have designed costumes for the ballet world include Jasper Conran, Karl Lagerfeld for Channel and Coco Channel herself who designed for Sergei Diagaliev and the Ballet Russes in 1924 with Le Train Bleu and again in 1928 with Apolon Musagète.
Design a tutu for one of the season fairies from Cinderella: Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter.
What time period you are going to set Cinderella in (Antony McDonald chose to set Scottish Ballet’s version in 18th Century France), and research ballet costumes from that period.
What are the texture, shapes, colours, foliage of your particular season? Create a mood board to show the colours, textures and shades you wish to use to inspire your design.
Here are some things to think about when working on your design:
Think about the movement this particular character will do, can they move their arms and legs freely?
Will they be partnered? If they are, they will be lifted, held or turned, and attention must be paid to the bodice of the tutu. Jewels or intricate beading around the waist can cut and hurt a partner's hands.
The durability of material is very important as ballet dancers’ movements are extreme and the costumes have to be worn repeatedly therefore attention has to be paid to the durability of fabric.
If there are problems with fabric fraying, a very fine layer of PVA glue can be painted onto it.
Quite often parts of costumes like collars and cuffs are attached using poppers or press studs so they can be washed separately.
There is a huge amount of hand sewing in tutus, in terms of fastening tutus hooks and bars are best to use as they can be easily altered.
Straps e.g. shoulder straps are often elastic (flesh coloured) as this allows movement. Sleeves or decoration can be placed on top if need be, elastic provides security and movement.
Gallery: look at the costumes in Cinderella.
Many choreographers use unison as an effective choreographic tool with large groups of dancers such as the corps de ballet. When this happens, the overall look is uniformed and to achieve this, unison has to apply to the tutu design.
If dancers are turning or jumping in a romantic tutu, the skirt must move and hang in the same way, skirt lengths must be uniform and a desired length for the Romantic tutu is 9 inches above the floor.
When dancers extend a leg behind them in an arabesque and tip their torsos down counterbalancing (a penchee), the skirt should skim the floor to give the appearance of floating.
Think of the style of choreography that you are designing for. Is it traditional or more modern? This will influence the style of your tutu design, the fabric and the detailing.
Often flesh coloured gauze is used as panelling to give extra cover for exposed areas. Consider the underwear as well as during an arabesque it may well be on show!
It is important to look at the costume from a distance to view it from an audience’s perspective. Using a mirror can be helpful.
Have a look at the design team’s interpretations of the season fairies - click on an image to enlarge.
The fabric and look of the tutu could be seen as a snapshot of the season. Consider representing the seasons using the colour, texture and the light that can be seen in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Think about the lightness and balance of a headdress, the wire you want to use and the style e.g. what period are you basing it on?
How does it attach to the dancers head?
Does it tie in with the costume?