It is almost here.  Opening night of SWAN LAKE is Friday, February 16, 2018.  One of my favorite ballets.  We are especially excited this year because we have all new scenery designed by Peter Farmer.  He designed the costumes for us in 1994 but we could not have new sets at that time.  Now the production will be perfect with the scenery and costumes by the same designer.  Peter once said that the scenery was the backdrop for a painting and the costumes were a part of the foreground.  Now our painting will be complete.  Can’t wait to see everything together.

I said that Peter designed the costumes in 1994, but all the costumes are not that old.  For instance we just built two new Siegfried costumes for Alejandro Diaz.  We also replaced all the over skirts on the Guest costumes, added new tulle and new sleeves.  New sleeves for the Jester.  Six new Court costumes.  New Guest shirts for the men.  New elastic for all the Swans.


Alejandro slipped his jacket on between rehearsals

There are also a lot of shoes and boots in this production.  Joanna had to strip Luca’s boots and repaint them beige.  There are pointe shoes, ballet slippers, character shoes, ballet boots and character boots in this production.  And they are all different colors.




The first step is to use a leather prepare and a deglazer  to prep the boots for painting.

Joanna is painting them with  a leather spray paint to match the color of the tights.


It will all be worth it to see it onstage.  Like I said, “Can’t Wait”.


Summer is almost over !

Summer was very busy this year.  We had two rental going out,  one was BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which we purchased from San Francisco Ballet a few years ago.  It is a beautiful production designed by Jose Verona.  I loved working on BEAUTY there were a few costumes missing from the production and we recreated them from the original sketches that we received from the Dance Museum in San Francisco.  They were the most magical ones in the production.  Beauty’s beautiful dress that the Beast gave her, the Beast prince costume when he becomes a Prince.

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Alexandra Kochis as Beauty and Alejandro Diaz as the Beast

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The fittings at Texas Ballet Theatre went well for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  It was nice to get it out again and share it with a new audience.

We also rented our brand new GISELLE out for the first time to the Joffrey Ballet.  Fittings are occuring even as we speak.  We made two new Albrecht jackets that we never finished for our production, lucky them.  I hope the fittings go real well.  We made it user friendly.


Julia Erickson as Bathilde, Steven Annegarn as the Duke, Alexandra Kochis as Giselle and Christopher Budzynski as Albrecht

We have also been repairing and rebuilding parts of DRACULA that we open our season with.  Always something happening at the Ballet.

If you are in Fort Worth or Chicago in the next few months treat yourself to the BALLET!

NSAL’s Red Rose National Award Gala

Saturday, June 3rd was the National Society of Arts and Letters Awards Gala. It was a wonderful evening with performances by many talented young artists. The judges for the competition were: Steven Caras, Maurice Brandon Curry, Cynthia Harvey and Christopher Wheeldon.


Judges and Winners (Masanori, 2nd from Left)

Masanori Takiguchi, a student from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School won the honorable mention award.  Seventeen dancers were in the competition from all over the United States.  The scholarships they win can contribute to their careers in the Arts.


All NSAL contestants with the Scottish Bagpiper, Bill Paul.




Remembering Peter

IMG_2164May 10th, David and I attended Peter’s memorial service at St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden.  It was a wonderful service for a wonderful person.  Tributes were given by Wayne Eagling, Kevin O’Hare, Maina Gielgud and Monica Mason.  Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake– Tchaikovsky was played by Roman Simovic (violin), Linn Rothstein (piano).Adagio Giselle Act II – Adam was played by Milena Simovic (viola) Linn Rothstein (piano)Finale from Sleeping Beauty – Tchaikovsky was played by Simon Gutteridge ARCM GRSM (organist).

photo 1His wit, charm and generosity will be greatly missed.  He left us with a great gift the beauty of his art.

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Peter’s self portrait –1970


The National Society of Arts and Letters will have their competition for Classical Ballet at the Pittsburgh Ballet Studios this Saturday, March 11.  We will have 11 contestants competing.  Each dancer will perform a 6 minute variation.

The first place winner will be awarded $2,500.00, and will go on to compete in the National competition in Boca Raton, Florida, June 1-3, the winner will also receive a $150.00 gift card from The Dancer’s Pointe

The second place winner will be awarded $ 1,200.00 and a $75.00 gift card from The Dancer’s Pointe.

The third place winner will be awarded $700.00 and a $75.00 gift card from The Dancer’s Pointe.

Merde to all the competitors

(All are invited to attend and cheer on the competitors.  Pittsburgh Ballet Studios at 10:00A.M.)




In Wonderland

We opened ALICE IN WONDERLAND last week.  It is a wonderful ballet, I am so happy it is apart of our season.  Derek Deane came in to set it about four weeks ago.  He choreographed it originally for the English National Ballet.  Sue Blane designed the costumes and scenery and she was in Pittsburgh for production week.  Very nice and talented lady.

We are now working on the Rose costumes for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in the costume shop.  They are very pretty.  I will put a photo of one in when we get a little further along on them.  They really do look like roses.

We also started making a few costumes for the Schools Spring Performance.  I really  enjoy building costumes.



NUTCRACKER has opened and we are more than halfway through the run.  We close on the 27th.  We made quite a few new costumes this year.  Fun and rewarding.  We are also in the process of making a new Sugar Plum Fairy costume.


Amanda trying on the new Sugar plum Fairy costume

Also made a wintery pointe shoe wreath for The Dancer’s Pointe


This is it before being crystallized 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Wonderful, Wonderful!!!!

Well GISELLE met all our expectations, we thought it was wonderful and so did everyone that we talked to.

Opening night was so beautiful and the dancers were perfect!  The orchestra sounded fantastic!  Sets, costumes and lighting a beautiful addition to the talents displayed by the dancers and the orchestra.


Act I Bathilde, Duke, Giselle  and Albrecht                 Photo by Rich Sofranko    

Bathilde – Julia Erickson,  Duke – Steven Annegarn,  Giselle – Alexa Kochis  Albrecht – Chris Budzynski

We are so fortunate to now have this beautiful production of GISELLE.  Thank you Peter Farmer for your vision and your outstandingly beautiful artwork.


Act I  Friends and Peasants                                                                 Photo by Rich Sofranko

Act I was full of color just like I was dreaming it would be.  It was a great time to open this production, so colorful outside as well with all the fall leaves changing.


Joanna took this photo just before Act II started 

GISELLE is not yet finished, because of time issues we still have a few more costumes to build.  I would say around a dozen or so.  Luckily I still have some money in the budget.


Load out

It has always amazed me how we enter a theater, load in, have a few rehearsals, do the performances and load out.  It reminds me of the Jackson Browne song.

After a quick inventory and cleaning we are now diligently working on NUTCRACKER.  Load out is in one week.  Yikes!!

Production Week

The week we have all been waiting for.  It is Production Week, now we see if we made all the right decisions during this wonderful build.

Remember all the beautiful white Wilis?  Well they aren’t white any more.  It was a little scary painting all those beautiful new white tutus.  But they are even more beautiful now.  Because of the painting we did something we never do.  We had a studio dress of  Act II on Tuesday of production week.  After the dress we had to tack ivy on all the wilis.  Big job.


Diane as Myrta 

Beautiful!   Svi painted all the wilis, it took about 3 days.


Look how nicely it moves, this costume still needs jeweled

We also finished the Abrecht Act II costume. .


Embroidering  gold motifs on Albrecht’s sleeves.

I also embroidered a message inside Alexa’s Act I Giselle bodice. On saturday Chris will be dancing his final performance as Albrecht.  Alexa and Chris are married and have been dancing together for years.  Inside her tutu I embroidered “He Loves Me”and 10-29-16  the date of his last performance.  Loved adding that personal message for them.

Last night was wonderful.  It is so nice to see it all coming together.  The sets were beautiful!  I am so excited for tonight’s rehearsal.  The orchestra will be playing so it will sound so wonderful.  Lighting is looking great,  soon everything will be perfect!

Today we made a new peasant costume, added a peplum to Wilifred, made another cape for one of the Court men, a new headpiece for Giselle Act I and Act II.  Redyed Hilarion tights and Joanna also dyed some ostrich plumes for the Court hats.  We also adjusted the Friend headpieces and sprayed all the wili headpieces.

Tomorrow night is opening,  so very exciting, hope to see you there.