Call +1 (800) 820-1667

Class Act Tutu Blog

We Deliver Quality, Made-to-Order Ballet Costumes Quickly

  • Superstition and the Dancer: From Hauntings to Good Luck Charms

    With Halloween approaching, we always love to revisit our post about superstition and the dancer. This post was originally post 7 years ago. Enjoy!!!

    Shhhhhhh.....

    Dancers and their theatrical peers are masters of the art of fantasy and characterization. In order to be successful at their craft, a dancer must create a believable character that leaves their audiences spell-bound. It is within the confines of the theater that both performer and viewer silently agree to believe the unbelievable. “Without these unspoken agreements, there could be no theater; with these agreements, all theaters become magic places where time shifts and identity is transformed.” (Haunted Theaters by Barbara Smith. 2002)

    This “unspoken agreement” helped propagate the rich history of superstition and rituals among performers throughout the ages.

    The Ghost in the TheaterThe Ghost in the Theater

    Haunting & Superstition

    Superstitious beliefs attached to the theater originated in the continental cities of Europe where the ballet predominated.  Even in these modern times, theaters tend to have a plethora of associated superstitions and ghost stories. Here are a few:

    The Ghost Light

    According to tradition, one should always leave a light on in an empty theater.  This light either wards off ghosts—or may just provide the ghosts enough light to see.  Failure to provide this may anger the ghosts leading to pranks and other mishaps.

    Rehearsal

    It is considered bad luck if a rehearsal goes smoothly. The feared results of a perfect rehearsal include a very short performance run, or the performance itself will be disastrous. It is also unlucky to speak the last line of a play before Opening Night.

    Whistling

    It is forbidden to whistle anywhere inside the theater, especially in or near the dressing rooms. The superstition states that if a whistle is heard, someone (although not necessarily the whistler) will soon lose their job.

    Wishing an Actor or Dancer “Good Luck”

    This is by far one of the most well-known superstitions. Wishing an actor or dancer “good luck” before a performance is considered extremely unlucky and is sure to bring disaster. Instead, one should wish an actor to “break a leg”, which is symbolic of “taking a bow” at the end of a worthy performance, and wish a dancer “merde”.

    Merde is actually French slang for “dung” but has an interesting history in regard to the dance world. Before the invention of cars, Parisian streets were filled with horse-drawn carriages and plenty of horse dung. As dancers made their way to the theater, they would caution one another to “not step in the merde”. During the evenings when the people—and their horses--were in vast attendance, all the “merde” outside was considered a good thing. Dancers soon began to wish one another “merde” before going on stage as a way of saying “watch your step”.

    The Scottish Play

    Shakespeare’s Macbeth is said to be the most cursed of all plays; therefore actors avoid saying its name. Euphemisms such as “The Scottish Play” or “The Bards’ Play” are used instead. The superstition states that terrible luck will befall on any company performing the play, ranging from strange accidents to actual death. In many parts of the world, even speaking the name “Macbeth” anywhere inside the theater or quoting from its text will cause that person to lose all of their theatrical friends.

    Closed for Ghosts

    According to superstition, the theater should always be closed one night a week in order to give the ghosts a chance to perform themselves. Monday night is usually preferred, as it also provides actors with a day off following weekend performances.

    The World’s Most Haunted Theaters

    Many of the world’s oldest and most renowned theaters are said to be haunted.

    Many of the world’s oldest and most renowned theaters are said to be haunted. Ghostly encounters range from the mischievous to the deadly, and plague performers, stage-hands and ushers alike. Instead of frightening theater patrons away, these tales seem to have the opposite effect by adding to the theater’s allure and mystique.

    The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London

    London’s oldest working theater is said to be home to several spirits. Perhaps the most famous is “The Man in Grey”, who appears as a nobleman dressed in a grey cloak, powdered wig, and 3-cornered hat. According to legend, “The Man in Grey” appears just prior to a successful run, and he’s said to enjoy poking and kicking the actors. The ghost of actor Joe Grimaldi is a welcome sight by nervous thespians. Reports of his helpful guidance have surfaced on several occasions.

    The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis Tennessee

    Within the confines of the “south’s finest theater” lives the ghost of a young girl named Mary. Although no one knows exactly how she came to the Orpheum, the most accepted theories suggest she was either run over by a horse-drawn carriage or an automobile in front of the theater, or she fell to her death from a balcony while watching a performance. “Mary” tends to enjoy the view from seat C-5 and those who sit there claim to feel cold chills. Others have reportedly heard a child giggling and running through the halls, doors opening and closing on their own, and the pipe organ playing by itself. Still other accounts insist that Mary is responsible for turning all the chairs in her box backwards during performances she doesn’t like.

    The Paramount Theater, Seattle Washington

    According to local legend, this Seattle-based icon is primarily haunted by the ghost of a beautiful, red-haired woman. We first heard of this story on Halloween day a few years ago, when we used the Paramount for a company photo shoot. Built in 1928, the Paramount is one of Seattle’s oldest theaters, with more than one ghost reportedly seen by its former employees. However, having a personal encounter with one of these apparitions seems to be getting harder to come by. According to sources, this is due to all the rock concerts held at the theater, and only a select few of its eerie patrons still enjoy them.  (Ghost Stories from the Pacific Northwest, by Margaret Read MacDonald.1996 )

    Superstition in the World of Dance

    Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the fact remains that many dancers hold fast to their own unique rituals and good luck charms.

    Superstition

    Some dancers wear "lucky" jewelry for every performance.

    For example, Vanessa Zahorian a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet says a prayer and kisses the ground before going onstage. She also wears a diamond pinkie ring which her parents gave her as a child during every performance, kept hidden from view courtesy of tape.

    Some dancers such as Jon Leher, director of contemporary dance company LeherDance in Buffalo, New York, believe luck comes from a little extra sweat. Literally. “I try to wash (my warm-up clothes) as little as possible,” he says.

    Other pre-performance rituals include everything from forming a circle and linking pinkies with corps members, applying perfume, to warming up or doing one’s hair and make-up in a precise order.

    Conclusion

    However you slice it, superstitions and rituals are just as much a part of the dance world as company class and daily stretching. So whether you exit your dressing room left-foot-first, whisper a prayer, or simply say “break a leg” to your peers, every performer has their own way of avoiding the personal--and paranormal—pitfalls of the theater.

    All photographs © Angela Sterling

    Dancer/Model Stacy Lowenberg, Pacific Northwest Ballet

    We invite you to post your own performance rituals or ghostly encounters.

  • Quick Tip: Get More out of your Tutus

    Mix, Match & Share!

    Your tutu bodice and skirt separates should be attached together after they have been fit.  This is essential so that there is no gaping during performance.

    Want to get more out of your tutu bodice and tutu skirt purchase? Use this trick to pair your bodice with different skirts. This way you can pair one bodice with more than one skirt to change:

    • Tutu Style
    • Tutu Size
    • Tutu Skirt Length
    • Tutu Colors

    Use Buttonhole Elastic & Suspender Buttons

    Secure your bodice to your skirt using buttonhole elastic for the tabs. Place small, flat buttons on the inside of the waistband. These buttons and "buttonholes" can be placed all around the tutu skirt and bodice. We place our buttons and elastic at the center front, side front, side and side back seams. That way, skirts & bodices can be easily switched.

    Buttonhole Elastic

    At Class Act Tutu, we are now offering Buttonhole Elastic/Button kits. Check it out!

  • Loving Our Colors!

    We LOVE Colors

    At Class Act Tutu we LOVE our Color Layered Romantic Tutu styles.  We have so many colors of our exquisite tulle, that your options are nearly unlimited.

    Depth, Shading & a Stunning Visual

    Layering colors adds depth and shading that changes with movement and provides an absolutely stunning performance.  We think this look works very well for your Nutcracker Ballet's Waltz of the Flowers or Snow Scene. Check out our "Rose Splendor" ensemble in action in the video below.

    Ballet Academy East, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ Waltz of the Flowers.

    Dress Up Your Barbie

    One way to easily visualize how your color choices come together is to order our ruffled swatch sets and to dress up your Barbie (or soda bottle or whatever!).

    Tutu Swatches

    Order Your Color Cards and Ruffled Swatches Today!

    The price of our Tutu Bodice & Skirt Color cards and/or our Ruffled Swatch sets is deducted from your tutu order and shipping is FREE!  Order today and plan your Nutcracker Ballet tutus!

    Ruffled Swatches

    As always, if you need any assistance, contact us at 800.820.1667 or drop us an email. We are always happy to assist you.

  • Urban Nutcracker

    We are sharing this fun post from Dustin Todd Rennells that talks about creating all new costumes for Tony Williams', Urban Nutcracker.  Enjoy!

    by Dustin Todd Rennells

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

    This was one of my favorite overall projects to do for Urban Nutcracker. This tutu came to us at a great price from Class Act Tutu when I begged for a good price for our amazing show. It came naked just wine and black. Through the help of numerous volunteers all the gold window panes and sequined borders were sewn on and tacked down. First is Katrina Gould as Sugar with her backup of Sugar Plum Attendants in several beautiful images by RavenWolfe Photography. Next is my original drawing of the piece that I had envisioned. This is most likely the closest to my original idea. Lastly is the tutu we had used for 6+ years. Definitely a new concept here! Sugar embodies the city of Boston, wine/brick red like the buildings with glowing lights of a city during the holidays. Thanks to Anita Handy-Velasquez, Amanda Lapham, Yara Figueroa, Molly Mclaughlin-Drubin and Judith Alvarez for their additional work to this costume and headpiece. Based on original drawings by Rebecca Cross.

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography
    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker    Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

     

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker    Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

     

    Concept for Urban Nutcracker's Sugarplum by Dustin Todd Rennells. Concept for Urban Nutcracker's Sugarplum by Dustin Todd Rennells.
  • Quick Tip - Let the Fabric & Trim Do the Work!

    Hand work can be delightful if you have time, but in a crunch, it may not be an option. Here is what I do:

    Find nicely embellished fabric so that little or no adornment needs to be added.
    Find fabric that needs no edge finishing (that is, no hemming).

    My favorite choice is embellished (sequined, beaded, embroidered) tulle like we used in this “Spanish” tutu design:

    RedSquarelargeTutu-813

    spanish_tutu

    To create an overlay for your skirt:

    • Cut a “donut” shape with the “hole” the measurement of the bottom of the tutu basque.
    • Choose the length of the overlay.
    • Cut an 8 inch slit at the center back.

    news-overlay

    If needed, use a coordinating trim to edge the outside of the skirt circle.  This trim can be hand stitched or machine sewn.

    news-overlay-trim

    For the bodice, cut a shape that follows the lines of the bodice. Again, if needed, outline the fabric with a co-coordinating trim.

    news-overlay-bodice

    If time and budget permit, add beads or crystals.

    news-overlay-crystals

    Tack bodice & skirt overlay in place so that it is secure but easy to remove for cleaning.

    Voila!  An elegant tutu embellishment without a lot of stitching time

  • The Romantic Tutu Skirt

    While ballet tutus can take on many forms, when most people hear the word “tutu” they envision the ethereal Romantic style tutu skirt.  In honor of its timeless beauty, we would like to take a moment and share a little bit about this classic tutu style.

    The Romantic Era of Ballet

    The Romantic Tutu made its debut during the early to mid-19th century, a time in which “romanticism” in art and literature held great influence over the creation of new ballets. By many historical accounts, the Romantic period is considered to have begun with the 1827 Paris debut of La Sylphide where the Romantic Tutu skirt was first worn by Marie Taglioni.

    Marie Taglioni, La Sylphide wearing the first Romantic Tutu Marie Taglioni, La Sylphide wearing the first Romantic Tutu

    Many of these Romantic Ballet stories told tales of conflict between man and nature, society and the supernatural.  This era put the ballerina center stage “floating” on the tip of a toe in the forms of sylphs (La Sylphide), wilis (Giselle), and other ghostly spirits—who enslaved the hearts and senses of mortal men.

    Carlotta Grisi, 1841 as Giselle Carlotta Grisi, 1841 as Giselle

    The Romantic Tutu Skirt

    Due to this marked supernatural influence, the second act of these Romantic ballets (representing the spirit realm) began to be called the “white act” or “ballet-blanc”.  The corresponding costume was an elegant white skirt made of layers upon layers of tulle (fine netting). This other-worldy white skirt was what we’ve come to know as the Romantic Tutu Skirt.  This ghostly vision was enhanced with new developments in theater effects such as gas lighting (that could be dimmed), posing en pointe, and the use of wires to make dancers “fly”.

    What is a Romantic Tutu Skirt?

    Romantic Tutus are long, floating and ethereal.  They are usually 3-5 layers of soft tulle.  These soft layers can begin at the waist (Romantic Tutu) or fall from the high hip for a dropped waist look (Romantic Tutu with Basque).

    At Class Act Tutu, we LOVE romantic tutu skirts.  From the famous classic white to today’s vivid, colorful layers, we have the skill and ingenuity to create the tutu of your dreams!  We encourage you to put one on and get busy enslaving hearts!

    From Vail International Dance Festival, International Festival of Dance II, Giselle, August 4, 2012.  From Vail International Dance Festival, International Festival of Dance II, Giselle, August 4, 2012.
  • Quick Tip: From the Costume Shop at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB)

    We first published this blog entry almost exactly 4 years ago. It remains one of our all time favorite tips: How to create an elegant and very "Degas"  tutu look on a budget. Enjoy this re-post.

    In 2006, Fleming Halby (then director of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Seattle school) staged the only surviving scene from August Bournonville's "Konservatoriet". Class Act Tutu was honored to provide the white romantic tutu skirts for that performance.

    PNB School's "Konservatoriet "  ©Rex Trainter PNB School's "Konservatoriet " ©Rex Trainter

    The staging of this piece has always provided a great inspiration to us in how to create a beautiful classic look reminiscent of the early French ballet.   We were lucky to get to spend some time in the PNB costume shop learning how Victoria McFall created this lovely vision.   Here is what we learned.

    What you need:
    1. White Leotard
    2. White Romantic Style Tutu skirt
    3. Satin Ribbon
    4. Sheer Fabric for Sleeves
    5. Nude Elastic

    The Leotard
    • Start with a camisole style leotard. Remove the straps and replace them with nude elastic.
    • Create a pattern for an off the shoulder sleeve with a gusset. Here are some views of PNB’s sleeve and pattern:

    Sleeve with Gusset Sleeve with Gusset
    Sleeve and Pattern Sleeve and Pattern
    PNB Sleeve Pattern PNB Sleeve Pattern

    • Here you can find instructions for making your own pattern for gussets.
    • Stitch your sleeve onto the leotard

    Sleeve with gusset sewn to leotard Sleeve with gusset sewn to leotard

    The Skirt
    • Start with a romantic style tutu skirt. PNB used Class Act Tutu’s Romantic Style 5-Layer skirt in a mid-calf length.
    • Edge stitch a nice satin ribbon onto the waistband at the top and the bottom. Victoria used pale blue and white for Konservatoriet.

    Satin Waistband & Bow Satin Waistband & Bow

    • Sew down a faux bow if desired.

    This idea can be used for many different tutu looks and combining a professional quality tutu skirt with an inexpensive leotard can stretch your costume budget.

  • Reset

    We are so thrilled with how this custom costume turned out. This leotard/saucer tutu was created for Reset. Reset was choreographed by Justin Allen for a contemporary solo by Sarah Lapointe at the 2015  YoungArts Miami performance.

    Sarah is a student at The Rock School for Dance Education.  All Photos, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography.

    Sarah Lapointe, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography Sarah Lapointe, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's 'Jewels' Shines Brighter Than Ever

    Friday night's opening of Pacific Northwest Ballet's 'Jewels' can be best summed up in two words: Hot DAYYUMM!

    With its yummy port de bras and insane amount of bourrées, Emeralds did not disappoint! I loved every moment of this piece, from Elizabeth Murphy's gorgeous lines to Lindsi Dec's stunning pointe work. (I honestly don't think she was on flat for more than 45 seconds...or so it seemed. *Amazing*)

    For all the serenity Emeralds brought me, PNB shot my happy factor through the roof with Rubies. Seriously folks...that number was to die for! Leta Biasucci, Laura Tisserand and Jonathan Porretta were nothing short of phenomenal. My cheeks hurt from smiling *this big* the whole time, and my hands felt nearly raw from all the applause. Mr. Porretta never (ever) fails to impress, and the promoted-to-soloist-just-before-curtain Biasucci was a petite force of nature. I loved the chemistry between these two. They looked as though they were having the time of their lives up there. The ever-gorgeous Tisserand - with legs to her chin and sassy "come hither" stare - completely dominated the stage as the "Tall Girl". (Can I see more of these three, Mr. Boal? Thanks!)

    Diamonds provided the glittering cherry atop this brilliantly decadent feast. Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold danced with all the poise and benevolence of royalty. (Side note: You could've heard a pin drop the second they entered the stage! It was as if the audience knew they were about to witness something magical.) Their dancing nearly brought me to tears - it was THAT beautiful, folks. As we all know, Carla is known for her delicate phrasing and supreme presence. This woman commands and holds your attention like no other! But when paired together with Batkhurel Bold's quiet strength - yes. Magic indeed.

    The standing ovation that night was very much deserved. Bravo, PNB...bravo!

    For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit PNB.org

     

  • Talking to People

    by Madison Rayn Abeo

    The Fairy of Beauty

    The

    Yesterday was the last show of Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer to help as a greeter in the lobby before the show and during intermissions. The Pacific Northwest Ballet School gives dancers in the upper levels, the chance to wear one of the costumes from the ballet, and talk to patrons in the lobby, taking photos and talking to people about the ballet! All the dancers love to wear the beautiful costumes, but I also really love talking to people. The adults ask about my dancing and I am able to tell them about upcoming shows I am in (told a lot of people about Pinocchio!) and the little kids love touching the tutu & pointe shoes and taking photos. Sometimes just getting down on the little kids levels, asking their names and what their favorite part of the ballet has been so far - is enough to make their day! It helps make their experience even more magical than Pacific Northwest Ballet already makes it! I am very grateful to have the opportunity to do it!

    Madison is a student at Pacific Northwest Ballet.  For more information and to follow Madison's journey towards becoming a professional ballerina check out her Facebook page, Madison Rayn Abeo: Support and Update Page.
    Photos:  Mariangela Abeo

Items 1 to 10 of 251 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 26