The Australian Ballet

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Our Top Ten Tutus

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

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).

600 x 800 TAB The Sleeping Beauty Mc Allister Sydney Photo Daniel Boud 2017 14 min
600 x 800 170202 THEAUSTRALIANBALET DAY10729 min

Ballet Imperial

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.

600 x 800 Robyn Hendricks in Ballet Imperial Choreography by George Balanchine The George Balanchine Trust Photo Lindy Wills min
600 x 800 170202 THEAUSTRALIANBALET DAY10016 min

The Black Swan

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.

600 x 800 Olivia Bell Black Swan 2007 photo Justin Smith 12 min
600 x 800 170209 AUSBALLET DAY60829 EDIT min

The Firebird

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.

600 x 800 TAB MURPHY photo Jeff Busby 2800 min
600 x 800 170209 AUSBALLET DAY60877 EDIT min

The Mirlitons

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.

600 x 800 TAB Nutcracker Wright Melbourne Photo Lynette Wills 2014 S27 min
600 x 800 KL 44 wardrobe 0 G4 A0353 min min

Princess Florine

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.

600 x 800 TAB The Sleeping Beauty Mc Allister Sydney Photo Daniel Boud 2015 32 min min
600 x 800 Beauty 68

The Sugar Plum Fairy

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.

600 x 800 TAB Nutcracker Wright Adelaide Photo Kate Longley 2019 b210 min
600 x 800 KL 21 wardrobe 0 G4 A0266 min


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.

600 x 800 TAB Swan Lake Baynes Sydney Photo Kate Longley 2016 a28 min
600 x 800 170209 AUSBALLET DAY61086 min


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.

600 x 800 TAB Nutcracker The Story of Clara Sydney Photo Daniel Boud 2017 elr 69 min
600 x 600 170202 THEAUSTRALIANBALET DAY10233 min


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.

600 x 800 TAB Don Quixote Nureyev Melbourne Photo 2013 56 min