Posted on 25 August 2021 By Behind Ballet Editorial Team

This week, we asked our Instagram community to weigh in on a selection of our finest tutus – and the results are in. See the winners on stage, from the wings and in luscious close-up.


The Fairy of Temperament in The Sleeping Beauty is also known as Violente (Force) or the Fairy of the Golden Vine. Temperament's spirited dance is often known as the 'finger variation' because she points with her index fingers. For David McAllister's Beauty, designer Gabriela Tylesova picked up on the Golden Vine name. Tylesova refers to her fondly as "the wine fairy". She is given a bunch of golden leaves and grapes to match her headdress, and corkscrew curls on the tutu's skirt mimic the young shoots of a grape vine. They also seem to make visible her crackling energy.

Meet the rest of The Sleeping Beauty's Fairies (and their marvellous tutus). 

Dana Stephensen. Photography Daniel Boud


George Balanchine's tribute to his Russian imperial past calls for a splendour to match the days of Petipa and Tchaikovsky. Designer Hugh Colman responded with rich blues and golds: the tutu as Fabergé egg. These Ballet Imperial costumes would be right at home in St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre. 

Robyn Hendricks. Photography Lynette Wills


Odile, the Black Swan in Swan Lake, is both seductive and spiky: her steps are the hard and brilliant mirror image of Odette's melting adages. For Anne Woolliams' Swan Lake, Tom Lingwood dressed her in black cut with glittering dagger-like silver shapes; touches of infernal red gleam on her bodice. 

Olivia Bell. Photography Justin Smith


Graeme Murphy's Firebird takes the Michel Fokine ballet, itself taken from a Russian folktale, and makes it rich and strange. His Firebird is a wholly otherworldly creature, but distinctively avian, wreathed by designer Leon Krasenstein in red and wearing fluttering feather gloves. 

Ako Kondo. Photography Jeff Busby


Nothing says Christmas like Peter Wright's traditional version of The Nutcracker, and nothing embodies the festive spirit of John F Macfarlane's Edwardian-inspired design like the Mirlitons, their tutus striped like candy canes and adorned like gifts. Find out the inside story of how they were made, and why they must have their pool noodles after every show. 

Eloise Fryer and Imogen Chapman. Photography Lynette Wills


The Sleeping Beauty's Princess Florine is the female half of the famous Bluebird Pas de deux. Gabriela Tylesova's design for David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty is an exquisite cerulean blue to match her partner's plumage. 

Take a look at the tutu being created in our costume department. 

Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo. Photography Daniel Boud


The crowning moment of The Nutcracker is the Sugar Plum Fairy's variation. John F Macfarlane's tutu for Peter Wright's Nutcracker is a shimmering confection of Swarovski crystals, velvet and sparkle nets. Take a closer look at this beauty, and find out how many beads and hand-painted sugar plums it has. 

Benedicte Bemet. Photography Kate Longley


Hugh Colman's tutu for the Swan Queen Odette in for Stephen Baynes' Swan Lake is not white but subtly ice blue, making it appear as if it's bathed in moonlight, and features wing shapes across the skirts and a single teardrop pearl on the chest. 

Amber Scott and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Kate Longley


Another tribute to the Imperial Theatres. In Graeme Murphy's reimagined Nutcracker, Clara is a prima ballerina, and the highlight of her career is dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy before the Tsar. This spectacular creation of burnished golds and ambers, by Kristian Fredrikson, is her costume for that performance. 

Joe Chapman and Amy Harris. Photography Jeff Busby


The dashing heroine of Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote spends most of the ballet swishing her gypsy flounces, but on her wedding day transforms into a regal ballerina in this magnificent apricot-and-white tutu by Barry Kay. 

Lana Jones. Photography Lynette Wills