A trip to the costume shop for Don Quixote!

The lavish, detailed costumes of Don Quixote are one of this classic ballet’s distinguishing factors. The ballet is filled with a variety of costumes including a traditional matador’s “suit of lights,” named for its rhinestones, beads and gold or silver thread, and his swirling capes to fight off the bulls. What makes these costumes so unique is that they evoke the culture and feeling of Spain — where Marius Petipa danced as an impoverished young man. For #TutuTuesday, we are taking a look at the beautiful tutus in Don Quixote that reflect the utmost elegance of a prima ballerina, but embrace the passion and flair that characterizes the rich, culture of Spain.

Mary Carmen Catoya as Kitri.

Mary Carmen Catoya as Kitri.

As most ballet companies do when performing a full-scale production with multiple sets and costumes, we rented our Don Quixote costumes from American Ballet Theatre. They were designed by famous costume and scenic designer Santo Loquasto. These costumes have been worn by some of the world’s most famous ballerinas including Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Cynthia Harvey and even Gelsey Kirkland!

Can you see some of the names?

Can you see the names of the ballerinas?

When the costumes arrived at our studios, our wardrobe team fit them to our dancers and stitched them accordingly so they fit perfectly. The seamstresses also touched up any missing beads or embellishments to ensure that the costumes looked perfect for the stage!

Seamstress XXX works on the lead dream scene ballerina's tutu.

Seamstress Ana Maria Romero works on the lead dream scene ballerina’s tutu.

The beautiful details of Kitri's bodice.

The beautiful details of Kitri’s bodice.

Seamstress Amelia works on another tutu.

Seamstress Amelia Paille works on another tutu.

After an entire month of hard work spread among four seamstresses, one cutter, one draper and one costume artist, these extraordinary costumes are not only complimenting the art form taking place onstage, but are also true works of art themselves.

Costume Arist Maria Morales adds extra plastic to the sides of the fans to ensure that they are strong enough for performing.

Costume Arist Maria Morales adds extra plastic to the sides of the fans to ensure that they are strong enough for performing.

Miami City Ballet extends a special thanks to Eugenia and Robert P. Strauss for their generous support of costumes for the original production of Don Quixote.

Make sure to see these beautiful works of art brought to life onstage during our final program of the season Don Quixote!

From Paper and Pencil to Costume

When Liam Scarlett — the young, acclaimed choreographer from London’s The Royal Ballet — brought our Costume Designer and Wardrobe Director Haydée Morales his costume design sketches for his new work Euphotic, she knew that she was up to the challenge!

Liam Scarlett's costume design sketch

The first step in bringing Scarlett’s vision to life was helping him determine the full color palette and types of fabrics that were aesthetically appealing, yet allowed the dancers to move freely.  Scarlett wanted the costume hues to include dark blue for the corps dancers, radiant yellow for the principals, and a combination of yellow and blue for the soloists to tie the piece together.  He also wanted the costumes to depict the ombré effect, which shows the consistent gradient of a color from its lightest shade to its darkest.

Fabric and color palette

Determining the color gradient

To determine the exact tones of the ombré, Costume Artist Maria Morales tested how various colors of dye displayed against the three types of fabric used in Scarlett’s piece.  For two weeks, Maria consistently performed dye work for all of the fabric used in the ballet’s costumes.  Using three pots full of different colors of dye and hot boiling water, she created beautiful ombrés for each woman’s skirt, man’s unitard, and a small detailed section on each woman’s bodice — dyeing a total of 62 pieces of fabric!

Maria dyeing fabric

While Maria was busy with dye work, the rest of the team worked on sewing the costumes.  The first step in the costume construction process was creating muslins, which are the inner piece of the bodice used for the first costume fitting, so that any necessary alterations will not affect the final fabric used on the exterior of the costume.  The seamstresses also built the mens unitards, which were sewn in two parts — the top half and the bottom half — and then dyed as separate parts to achieve a contrast of dark and light tones near the torso of the costume.

Mens unitards

Principal ladies bodice

After assembling the costumes, a second round of fittings and a dress rehearsal with the dancers rehearsing the ballet in full costume helped Haydeé determine if the costumes fit and moved properly.  A final round of fittings then took place to take care of the subtle details such as, adjusting shoulder straps or the length of the skirt.  Once Haydeé and her team completed these finishing components the costumes were ready for the stage!

See what the final costume looks like in motion during the world premiere of Euphotic during Program II: Tradition and Innovation

Becoming Mother Commedia

Mother Commedia has big shoes to fill!  With a skirt weighing 50 POUNDS that houses 8 polichinelles underneath, creating this character is quite a production.  Find out some of the backstage secrets about becoming Mother Commedia in this video.  Or, watch Mother Commedia perform LIVE during Miami City Ballet’ s classic production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™.

Dressing Viscera

Liam Scarlett not only choreographed Viscera, but he also designed the costumes for the World Premiere! Haydee Morales, MCB’s Costume Designer and Director, worked closely with Liam to bring his vision to the stage.

Haydee had a chat with us about Liam and the Viscera costumes.

Brand new ballet – brand new costumes!

As opening night rapidly approaches, the wardrobe department has been hard at work for months. This week, we visited the shop while they were working on the costumes for the company premiere of Fanfare. As many companies often do, MCB sometimes rents costumes from other companies, but not in the case of Fanfare! The wardrobe ladies are making them from start to finish.

We snapped a few shots during our visit. Although we tried our very best to capture the magic, these photos do not do the amazing costumes justice. Don’t miss them onstage when Program I opens on October 15 at Adrienne Arsht Center, November 12 at Broward Center and November 19 at Kravis Center.

the piccolo

peg crowns in the making

crown patterns

french horn pattern

creating tutus

This harp was hand stitched!

the harp

Getting Ready for Ballroom – Part 4

Your last chance to see The Neighborhood Ballroom before the dancers get back into tutus and pointe shoes is this weekend at Kravis Center. You’ve already seen the costume bibles, the costumes for the first two acts of the ballet, and “THE FOX-TROT” costumes. Now, in the final installment of our series, Haydee shows us the hot costumes for “THE MAMBO” and gives us some background on how she found them!

Getting Ready for Ballroom – Part 3

After seeing the costume bibles and costumes for the first two acts of The Neighborhood Ballroom, we are sure you’ve noticed that the attire changes with each era. In this installment of the series, Haydee shows us the costumes for “THE FOX-TROT” and some of the accessories the women wear. It is incredible the amount of details that go into all the dresses!

Don’t miss The Neighborhood Ballroom this weekend at Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Getting Ready for Ballroom – Part 2

Now that you’ve seen the costume bibles, take a look at the costumes the dancers will be wearing on stage during The Neighborhood Ballroom! Haydee actually went to the vintage shops of Miami and found amazing attire for the ballet. But not all the pieces were purchased – some were made by the wardrobe department. See if you can tell the difference.

In this installment of the costume series, Haydee shows us what the dancers will be wearing in the first two acts of the ballet.

Getting Ready for Ballroom

This weekend, the dancers will hang up their tutus and tights and suit up in dresses and jackets — The Neighborhood Ballroom opens Friday night at Adrienne Arsht Center! Haydee Morales, MCB Costume Designer and Director of Wardrobe, designed the costumes for this full evening ballet. It took lots of hard work and long hours, but with the help of her team, Haydee created an entire wardrobe for this piece.

Here’s a sneak peek at what went into designing the costumes for The Neighborhood Ballroom.

Stay tuned for more of our costume series.

Shoe Day

We just had the first Shoe Day of the Season, when dancers visit the costume shop to pick up their shoes for the month.  We spoke with Costume Designer and Director Haydee Morales on Shoe Day…you won’t believe how many pointe shoes a dancer goes through each season! Plus, we take a peek at the shoe room.

You can help keep the dancers ”on their toes.”  For more information about the Toe Shoe Fund, click here.