LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

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

Production in Paris

A three-week tour to Paris is oh-so glamorous — but it is also a huge behind-the-secenes undertaking! We took a couple minutes from Production and Lighting Director John Hall’s busy schedule for a Q&A on the Paris tour.

MCB: What will Production be taking on the Paris tour?

John: We are carrying all the costumes, scenery, props, dance floor, music, and supplies we need to perform the 14 ballets in the repertory for the three weeks in Paris. Due to the difference in electrical power between the United States and Europe, our lighting system is not compatible and will stay home.

MCB: How are you getting it all there?

John: All the equipment was previously loaded into two 40’ cargo containers at our warehouse. It was taken to the Port of Miami on June 1st and loaded on an ocean freighter that sailed to Le Havre, France. From there it cleared customs and was placed onto a tractor trailer to be taken by truck to Paris. The ocean part of the trip is about 20 days. The rest will be trucking. It will arrive at Le Théâtre du Châtelet on July 2 for our load-in. The return trip is the same.

MCB: What is Le Théâtre du Châtelet like?

John: The theatre was built in 1862 and it’s right on the Seine. My impressions after the February scouting trip I took to Paris is that Le Châtelet is a well run professional facility that is well equipped to handle MCB. The performance space will be comparable to the Broward Center, while the auditorium seats approximately 2,000 people. The theater got a renovation in 1999.

MCB: How will it be different working in a foreign theater?

John: The first difference will be language, of course. There was a lot of English spoken when I went in February, but I’m sure there will be a lot of finger pointing and head nodding! We are learning the basic theatrical terms in French to try to help the process; we are in their country after all! After that there are work rule differences and different departments have different responsibilities. For example, in the U.S., our props department is responsible for the orchestra pit setup among many other things. At Le Châtelet, the props department only handles actual performer used props. There is a separate department for the orchestra pit.

MCB: How many people from Production will be traveling to Paris?

John: We have seven members of the Production team coming along: myself, our stage manager, carpenter, head props, head electrician, electrician, and head sound. Two members of the Wardrobe department will travel with us as well: the costume designer/director and the wardrobe master.