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Class Act Tutu Blog

  • 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

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty Returns Better Than Ever

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty. Nakamura is one of four dancers performing the lead role in PNB’s presentation of the classic story ballet, running January 31 – February 9, 2014. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Lavish storybook sets, decadent costumes and gorgeous dancing provide the stunning backdrop to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.

    Kaori Nakamura and Seth Orza brought the house to its feet in a standing ovation during Friday’s opening as Princess Aurora and her beloved Prince Florimund. Their technique was amazing, and the way they looked at each other? Hello! Talk about your fairytale romances! I loved how the two of them can take a character, even one as well known as Aurora and Florimund, and make them their own. Orza is just one of those dancers you love to watch…over ‘n over again. I’ve yet to see an “off” performance from him or one where I wasn’t fully enraptured with his character. He *IS* the Prince…every time, all the time.

    I was also highly impressed by how quickly Nakamura went from bubby teenage Princess in Act I, to delicately composed bride in Act III. While this electrifying ballerina recently announced her plans to retire at the end of the season, her performance proved that she still has what it takes to rock the ballet world for many years to come.

    Jonathan Poretta provided a breath of comedy (as well as a serious hint of creepy!) as the wicked fairy, Carabosse. I loved how he’d peek out from under his “hag hoodie” and how the strobe lights would “flash” whenever he (she?) flew through the air. (Mmmwwa ha ha haaa!) In fact, I was almost sad when he died at Florimund’s hand (just before that glorious kiss), but as we all know, good always triumphs over evil especially in fairy tales.

    Laura Tisserand’s Lilac Fairy was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The depth of her storytelling ability seems every bit as endless and beautiful as her extension (which is really saying something, folks!). Everything she does is just incredible.

    The king and queen (Otto Neubert and Maria Chapman) plead with the wicked fairy Carabosse (Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta) in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    The

    And speaking of incredible, Act III’s Gold and Silver Pas de Trois (featuring Lindsi Dec, Andrew Bartee and Jerome Tisserand) was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Bartee has really come into his own as an artist (can’t wait to see more from him!), while Tisserand almost oozes with delicious charisma. Dec’s thousand-watt smile and clean technique shined brighter than any diamond, easily re-solidifying her place as an audience favorite.

    Just before the show, Artistic Director Peter Boal announced five (!!) well deserved company promotions: Elizabeth Murphy, Margaret Mullin and William Lin-Yee were officially recognized as soloists, while Lindsi Dec and Laura Tisserand were bestowed the title of Principal. Talk about putting a big, luscious cherry on top of a fantastic opening night!

    The Sleeping Beauty runs through February 9th. Tickets available at PNB.org.

  • Sightings: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Waltz of the Flowers

    It is so fun to see what various companies do in presenting The Nutcracker Ballet (and pretty fun to find they are wearing our tutus when doing it!).

    Aspen Santa Fe Ballet   Photo: Rosalie O'Connor Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

    In Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Nutcracker, instead of the Land of the Sweets, Clara is brought to a beautiful turn-of-the-century carousel, complete with blinking light bulbs and vintage carousel animals.  We found this photo of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's "Flowers" wearing  Class Act Tutus posted in the Photo Essay: Nutcrackers Around the Nation Display Regional Flair from PBS.   Check Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's performance information on their website and get your tickets to see this lovely version of The Nutcracker Ballet.

    These Waltz of the Flowers Tutus feature Class Act Tutu's Scoop Neck Bodice with  a Color-Layered Romantic Tutu with Basque.  Embellishment by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Costume Shop.

    Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Time Out Magazine Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Time Out Magazine
  • Sightings: The Ballerina Supremacy

    The Ballerina Supremacy, Madison in Seattle Washington

    The

    Class Act Tutu had lots of fun this summer!  We got to dance around the Seattle area with Day Kol (Photographer, The Ballerina Supremacy).  Day is looking for ballet dancers in the Seattle area.  Head on over to The Ballerina Supremacy 's Facebook page to message him if you are interested in collaborating.

    The Ballerina Supremacy, in Seattle Washington with Madison

    The

    The Ballerina Supremacy, Madison at The Evergreen State Fair

    The

    Model:  Madison Abeo, student at Pacific Northwest Ballet

    Styles shown:  "Pancake" Style Classical Tutu Skirt, White worn with (Top & Bottom Left Photos): Vala Dancewear's Cross-Back Corset Leotard in "Lipstick" (Style #22003 - New style coming 2014) and (Bottom Right) Photo "Siren" Leotard in Steel (Style #22001-New color coming 2014).

  • Quick Tip: Easy Tutu Skirt Embellishment

     Lilac Fairy Tutu design© CJDL Design

    Make your tutu skirt embellishment easy to place and to remove by attaching it to a lovely trim!

    1. Stitch your appliqués, petals, or whatever decorative pieces you are using to some coordinating trim.  Here we have used a metallic gold.
    2. Sew or glue some gems, beads, sequins, etc.
    3. Hand stitch the trim to the bottom of the tutu basque or waistband.
    4. Tack pieces to the tutu skirt if needed.

    Voila!

    Lilac Fairy Tutu design ©CJDL Design

  • Ballet Inspired Makeup Tutorial

    Ballet Makeup Mash-up!

    We wanted to share this Ballet inspired makeup tutorial with you because it is so fun (and because we LOVE Lisa Eldridge).

    This video features Roberta Marquez, principal, Royal Ballet.  It is styled with the Sleeping Beauty wedding tutu using "Bollywood"  inspired makeup by Lisa Eldridge.

  • How To Make a "Sugarplum" (for your Sugarplum Fairy Tutu)

    Sugarplum

    Sugarplum

    These Sugarplums were designed and created by Christine Joly of CJDL Design for this year’s Class Act Tutu Nutcracker Sugarplum Fairy tutu design.   These decorative Sugarplums are made using a combination of heat-formed thermoplastics and glued seed and bugle beads.  They are light, sturdy, can be sewn through and are drop-dead gorgeous!

    We are going to tell you step by step how to make these beautiful "Sugarplums" and if you scroll down to the bottom of this post you will find a list of sources for everything that you need for this fun project.

    If you are interested in having your Sugarplum tutu embellished by us, you may contact us for a design quote.

    What You Will Need

    1. One “Cabochon” (oval with a flat bottom) shape
    2. A stiff cardboard template of your shape
    3. Fosshape
    4. Heat gun, steam iron, steamer, or hair dryer
    5. Craft Glue
    6. Heat Proof Work Surface (foil covered metal pan or tray)
    7. Acrylic Paint(s)

    Step 1.  Make your template.

    • Trace your cabochon and add an extra 1/8 inch around the edge.  Cut out.
    • See the middle photo in the trio of pictures below.  NOTE:  The template is just a hole. You can see the tin foil lining the tray underneath.

    Step 2.  Cut your Fosshape.

    Fosshape is a fun “thermoplastic” cloth.  It feels like felt.  Fosshape starts out flexible and moldable but stiffens when heated.  It can be heated with a steam iron, hot air gun or hair dryer set on high.  This material, once formed, maintains its shape, can be sewn or glued and is wonderful for ornamentation, headpieces, masks, props, etc.  See our “Sources” at the end for more information on this fabric and where to purchase.

    • Cut your Fosshape fabric into pieces large enough to heat set over your mold.  This material can shrink up to 30%, so make sure your pieces are large enough.

    Step 3.  Shape and Heat.

    • Working on your heat proof work surface, place a piece of the cut Fosshape over the cabochon.
    • Carefully work your way around the shape holding your heat tool 4 to 5 inches from the surface.
    • When the Fosshape becomes soft and limp, press your cut-out template down and over it. (See far right photo in row below)
    • Fosshape cools very quickly, so you will have to work fast and keep pressure applied over the form.
    Cabochon, Template, Pressed Shape

    Cabochon,

    Step 4.  Paint Your Shape

    • With acrylic paints, paint the surface and base of your stiffened Fosshape.
    Painted Shape

    Painted

    Step 5.  Glue on Beads

    • Sort your beads into containers.  Christine used lighter shades as a highlight and three “plum” tones for the body.
    Sorted Beads

    Sorted

    • You will glue your beads onto the form in increments—not all at once.
    • Begin by squeezing a strip of glue along the top of your shape.  With a spoon, pour your beads over the glued area so they cover the glue.  (HINT:  Pour right back into your container so you have less to clean up!)
    • Gently tap down with your finger so that the beads are pushed into the glue.  Have a moist cloth available to wipe your fingers.
    • Let this harden at least ½ hour.  The glue can take up to 3 hours to fully dry.
    • Repeat this with all your shapes then move onto a different area of your form until the entire surface is covered.
    • IMPORTANT: Go back over your plums and gently push the beads into the glue BEFORE the glue has completely dried.
    Glueing Beads

    Glueing

    Step 6.  Finishing

    • Trim your “Sugarplums”, wrap with decorative cording, and stitch onto your project.
    Sugarplums Applied to the Tutu

    Sugarplums

    Sources

    Here is what we used and the easiest place to purchase that we could find.  If you have source suggestions, we would love to hear from you.

    Large Glass  (Fire Mountain Gems and Beads) or Acrylic (Art Fire ) “Cabochon” shape.

    Fosshape - Richard the Thread – Here you will also find additional instructions on using Fosshape.

    Aleen’s Tacky Glue & Acrylic Paint can be found easily at most craft stores like JoAnn or Michael’s

    Stay tuned!

    Next we will learn how to make the leaves.

    Sugarplum Parts

    Sugarplum Tutu ©CJDL Design for Class Act Tutu

    Sugarplum

    Sugarplum Ombre Detail

    Sugarplum

  • Amazing Costumes on a Budget: Savannah Arts Academy

    The Wizard of Oz, Savannah Arts Academy - Lollipop

    Lollipop

    To kick-off our "Amazing Costumes on a Budget" series, we'd like to take a moment and introduce you to the talented Christina Powell-Dance Department Chair of the Savannah Arts Academy in Georgia. Christina knows all about creating fabulous, professional-looking costumes--without breaking the bank! When we asked if she'd be interested in sharing some of her best "trade secrets" with our readers, she eagerly accepted. So, if your dance production is in the middle of a financial bind, you might want to take a few notes. So grab a pen (or bookmark this page), and get ready to be inspired!

    Class Act: So tell us, what initially prompted you and the Savannah Arts Academy to be "beautiful on a budget"? Was this something you've always done or did the current economy have something to do with it?

    Christina Powell: Working for a public school in a dance department that is fully supported by fundraising efforts and ticket sales to productions (we receive no funding from the local or state government), we must be extremely creative with our funds. We must work around [financial] issues to be beautiful on a budget. We ask for a lot of help from local seamstresses who donate their time and sometimes even the cost of materials to create costumes for us. For tutus, we order the skirts with basques from Class Act Tutu and the matching basque fabric for the bodices. We then have parent volunteers or local costumers make the bodices for each dancer to complete the look. In addition, we sometimes work with fashion students from our local art college, Savannah College of Art and Design.

    Class Act: Are there any specific actions that you take to do this? How does it all come together?

    Christina Powell: Well, at the beginning of the year, I take inventory of our costume closet and create a list of the most wanted items that I’d like to purchase for the year. Two years ago, we ordered an entire set of white romantic tutu skirts from Class Act Tutu. This was our first big tutu purchase! In order to save money, we had the bodices made to complete the look. We used those tutus for a Swan Lake excerpt and for the Fairy Corps in Cinderella. We used them again this year for the Emerald City Corps during our ballet, "The Wizard of Oz". Each time we use the white tutus, we change the decoration to fit the part. For the Emerald City Corps, a parent volunteer added emerald tulle overlays and a gold ribbon design on the bodice. The tulle was purchased in bulk from Class Act Tutu. Outside of ordering tutus, we also order other costumes that I feel like we’ll get a lot of use out of. For example, we ordered some Rockette-like white costumes that we wore in our Winter Dance Concert. We used them again for a local holiday event in downtown Savannah. The girls dressed up as snowflakes using these same costumes. Then in, "The Love of Broadway", our final show this year, we used these costumes again with added gold accents to perform “One” from A Chorus Line. So, my advice is that you prioritize your costumes needs, determine what costumes you can get the most out of, and take baby steps each year until you create a wonderful costume closet!

    Class Act: You know, I wonder how many other dance companies will read this and think, "Hmm. Why didn't we think of that?" Now, I also heard that you re-decorate your tutus. Would you share some examples of that with us?
    The Wizard of Oz, Savannah Arts Academy - Poppies

    Poppies

    Christina Powell: Yes, we do this a lot! For the lollipop tutus, I ordered that set of costumes at the beginning of the year. For our Winter Dance Concert, we used those tutus for a Sleeping Beauty excerpt. Then, we redecorated them for the Lollipop Corps for Wizard of Oz. We do this for all of our tutus. We always sew decorations onto the costumes so that we can easily take them off to change the look for the next performance. Never use glue! Also, skirt overlays are a great way to add color to costumes and to completely change the original look. The skirt overlays work best on white romantic tutus.

    Class Act: Do you have any final words of advice or any "Top Tips" that you'd like to share before we close?

    Christina Powell: It is so easy to get overwhelmed with costuming needs, especially if you are just starting to build a costume closet and you’re on a budget. When I took over as the chair of the Savannah Arts Academy Department of Dance, we didn’t even own a tutu! That was two years ago. Now, we own two complete sets of romantic length tutus (a white set and a pink set), a set of euro-tutus (red for the Poppy Corps for Wizard of Oz),  four romantic tutus for the Cinderella fairies (Summer, Spring, Winter, and Autumn),  and several pancake tutus (Fairy Godmother, Mazurka lead for Cinderella, Wizard for Wizard of Oz, etc). We have already used the white tutus in four shows, and the pink tutus in two shows. The red pancake tutu has been worn for the Mazurka lead in Cinderella, the Spanish variation for Nutcracker, the Don Quixote pas de deux, and the Poppy Lead in Cinderella!  Lots of use out of the red pancake tutu! Also, the winter fairy tutu was also re-worn by Glinda the Good Witch for Wizard of Oz. The best advice I can give someone wanting to build a costume closet, is to prioritize! Think about what kinds of costumes you need for your upcoming shows. Think about what you can get the most out of. Start basic (a set of white romantic tutus is a great place to start! They are so versatile and beautiful on stage!!!), and again--take baby steps! Breathe! And most of all, have fun!

    Thank you so much, Ms. Powell! Your creative ideas are going to come in handy for so many dancers out there. We wish you and the Savannah Arts Academy continued success! If you'd like to learn more about the programs available through the Savannah Arts Academy or attend future performances, please click here.

    Denise Opper ~ Media Relations

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice is Top Notch

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes and corps de ballet dancer Joshua Grant in the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic.  The newest ballet by Mr. Wheeldon is presented by PNB as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, May 31 – June 9, 2013. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Casting a luscious cherry on top of the company's impressive 40th anniversary season, is Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice - a triple bill highlighting a gorgeous World Premiere and classic favorites.

    The evening opened with George Balanchine's Agon - a fun, jazzy piece filled with glorious shapes, "legs for miles" and sassy brilliance. Joshua Grant and Ezra Thomson were particular standouts in this piece, each having grown by leaps and bounds this season as captivating, soulful artists. (I'm personally looking forward to seeing more from them next season!)

    The second piece, Christopher Wheeldon's world premiere, Tide Harmonic was every bit as awesome as one would expect - perhaps even more so! Here Wheeldon's brilliance creates a watery world of tantalizing delights; from sultry deep sea blue costumes to soothing aquatic lighting (hat tip to Randall Chiarelli), to an all-out gorgeous pas de deux featuring Carla Korbes and Joshua Grant. Quite honestly, it was here that the full scope of this gentleman's artistic development was brought to the forefront. In fact, he reminded me just a bit of (dare I say...?) Olivier Wevers. Time will tell what becomes of this unique partnership, but for now all I can say is, "Bravo!"

    The evening came to a close under the brilliant glow of Balanchine's 'Diamonds'.  This elegant piece features a shimmering chandelier, glittery tutus and jeweled tiaras - the kind of sweeping backdrop every little girl (and girl at heart!) pictures on her wedding day. Diamonds showcases the very best PNB has to offer, with its sweeping movements, delicious partnering and "Viva Imperial Russia!" opulence.

    As this banner 40th season comes to a close, it's clear that Pacific Northwest Ballet is just getting started.

    Director's Choice runs through June 9th. For tickets, please visit PNB.org.

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