From page to stage
Dozens of skilled artisans in our costume department worked tirelessly to realise Gabriela Tylesova’s sublime designs for David McAllister’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty. Slowly but surely, from a sea of plumes and velvets, beads and tulle, silks and faux fur, sequins, satins and braid, this beautiful production took shape. Tylesova’s costumes for The Sleeping Beauty are as intricate and detailed as haute couture. The tutus for the fairies who bestow gifts on the baby Princess Aurora are scattered with crystals, with cut-out lace adorned with beads, and with fabric petals stitched one by one onto the top layers of the tulle skirts.
Some ballet facts
Did you know many costumes are only dry-cleaned at the end of a production run?
To be cleaned they must be dry. The wardrobe has a hot room to help with this. Between shows the costumes have to be hand-cleaned with Shellite (a dry-cleaning fluid) and sprayed with sphagnum (to deodarise and prevent mould). It is part of the touring crew’s job to ensure the costumes are in proper condition so that the dancers can wear them with comfort and in good repair.
Did you also know that the ballet has a full-time shoe fitter to ensure that pointe and flat shoes are ordered, maintained, and fitted to each dancer’s specifications?
The Australian Ballet orders 7,500 shoes each year; 5,000 are pointe shoes and 2,500 are ballet flats. There is a constant stream of pointes and flats coming in and out of the Shoe Room weekly. The shoe fitter's job is to make sure a dancer’s pigeon-hole is never empty! Without shoes, a dancer cannot do their job. Nearly all of the shoes are custom made, and have the dancer’s last names stamped on the outer soles.
The lifespan of a pointe shoe is quite short when they are used by a professional dancer. Some ballerinas go through one or two pairs of pointe shoes per performance!