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.

Almost there

We have less than a week til opening night.  And I am happy to say we are almost done!  We have a cape to make for one of the court men, an Albrecht cape to line, court child to finish and one more GISELLE bodice for Act I.

But more important so much has happened in the last three weeks.  We have had multiple studio dress rehearsals.  They were all wonderful!  Nice to see the dancers in them.  This was our first studio dress three weeks ago.  The Wilis look done, but we still have to paint them, add sleeves and trim the fronts of them with ivy.  Not to mention fix all the ones that need adjusted.  But like I said this was three weeks ago and happily to say everything is done but the trimming and adding sleeves.  Svi has been painting for the last three days, he is almost done.

More to follow!

Moving On

Since my last entry many things have happened.  All Wonderful!!!  All lots of fun and very enlightening.

David and I drove to Ashville, North Carolina to see the Costume exhibit at the University of North Carolina.  Costume Design at the Turn of the Century 1990 – 2015 amazing exhibit.   It included costumes and costume renderings from artists  around the world.  It also included our Rat King headpiece and our Beast headpiece that Svi constructed.   The costume renderings were done in all different styles and all beautiful and unique.  It will also be on display in China next year.  Igor Roussanoff , Professor of Drama at UNC was the curator.  It included 1500 designs by 300 plus designers from 31 countries.  The exhibit was first hosted by the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum in Moscow.  img_0620

Igor is Svi’s Father, we know where Svi’s talent came from.  He grew up in a costume shop.We are so lucky to have him working with us on GISELLE.  img_0618

Last weekend we had our Grand Opening Celebration for our new annex – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Friday,  Reception and Performance on Saturday and Open House on Sunday.  All three events were wonderful and very well received.  Great weekend!

Throughout it all we never stopped working on GISELLE.  Today we fit the last 3 Wilis and Peasants.  We have to complete the Wilis by Wednesday because we are having our first studio dress rehearsal.  I asked Terry if we could do a few small studio dress rehearsal as blocks of costumes were completed so we could adjust them before prep week that starts on October 17th.

All but two fabrics have been purchased and we only have six more costumes to cut.  We are moving along.

We did a radio interview with Bob Studebaker.  Art from the Ground Up on WESA 90.5.  I will try to attach it.  

Joanna dyed the fabrics for Giselle’s  Act I costume today.  We still have more dying to do but in a week or two.

The scenery arrived yesterday!!!!  We are getting closer.





First and Final Fittings

We did a few first fittings on the Peasant ladies and men this week.  First fittings are exciting because you get to see the costumes on dancers and also if how you decided to make the costume really works.  It is also great to see how the dancers like the costume.  They are really excited about all the new costumes.


Joanna in her Wili costume and Marisa in her Friend costume



Marisa dancing around in her Wili costume


We also had final fittings on the Friends costumes and a few of the Wilis.  They can now be completely completed.  YES!!!!!

Stitching Away

Peasant bodices are all cut and being put together.  They look absolutely gorgeous!  I can’t wait to see them all trimmed.  We also started to cut the peasant men, five of the seven peasant shirts are cut.  We ran out of fabric and Joanna has to dye more.  She has the recipe that she used to dye the first seven yards, we always write down what colors of dye we used to get a certain color just in case we need more.  Actually we used the same recipe that we used for the Friends and Peasant ladies blouses, we wanted the men’s shirts a little darker so we doubled the recipe, not quite the color we wanted so we tripled it, PERFECT!  Three of the six vests were also cut last week.  We almost made our goal of getting all the peasants cut.


Peasant couple, the vest will get a sash

I will attach a video of Peter sketching the Giselle costume.  It is rare to see Peter sketching.  He usually sketches when no one is around.  Such a talented man.  I have been looking at his renderings for years.  In fact one of his renderings is the logo for my store,  The Dancers’ Pointe. When we bought the store Peter offered his artwork to be our logo.  Wonderful gift!  I really enjoy the store, when I make something for a ballet and it is really cool, I make a few for the store.  Last season I designed costumes for Yoshi Nakanos ballet!  The women wore Degas style skirts.  I made a few for the store in nice bright colors and also black. If you get a chance stop in and check them out!  The Dancers’ Pointe is located at 2821 Penn Avenue. (a block and a half from the ballet.)  My daughter Kerri manages the store for me, she does a wonderful job, she grew up with ballet.  Both of my daughters came to work with me until the started kindergarten.

Last week we were in Tuscany attending a wedding of a friend.  Tuscany is Beautiful!!!  The sky is so blue!!!  Grape and olive orchards everywhere.  And beautiful fields of sunflowers, that was a surprise for me.  We went to Florence one day to see David.  Absolutely awesome!  Michelangelo started sculpting him in 1501 at the age of 26.  He has little hearts in his pupils.  Sweet!  Absolutely spell binding.


David’s eye

Back to work on GISELLE.  Joanna dyed the extra shirt fabric while I was gone.  The new batch is a slightly different color.  That is fine, it just means that I can’t cut pieces from each piece to use on the same shirt.  I need cuffs and collars and fron plackets for the two remaining shirts, and one set of sleeves.  Because of the color difference I will take the front aqnd back panels from the  second shirt and cut the cuffs, and collars and front placket for the first shirt.  Then I will cut the final shirt from the new batch of fabric that is slightly different and that will be our extra shirt.  Imagine all the colors in a teaspoon of dye that makes up one color.  It is no wonder some recipes come out different that the first dye bath.  You always get different grains of color in that teaspoon of dye.

The peasant children are all cut out also, we are well on our way to completing the Peasants.





Beautiful Peasants


The great news is the Peasant skirts are finished except for the hooks and eyes and the hems.  Hip hip hooray. Svi and I also worked out the bodices.  They are very nice and they will also be very easy to fit.  Instead of adding an inch of lycra on the sides we are placing it under the chevron and adding an elastic cording to the front of the bodice.  The lace won’t be  black as shown in the picture preferably a more natural color.IMG_3103  The Peasant ladies blouses are already made, they just need trimmed and of course hardware.  Every thing takes a very long time to finish.





The video below is of Joanna trimming a Wili skirt.

Today I will hopefully work out the Peasant men costumes.   I already cut 12 yards of fabric off the bolt for Joanna to dye.  All fabric that is dyed has to be washed first.  The washing takes off any finish that may inhibit the dye.  They will be a shade or two darker that the Peasant ladies blouses.   Joanna has already dyed two of the six colors.  She will be dying up a storm next week.  This is a video of her dying the Peasant skirt layers.  We don’t always ask her to work that fast.  Good Job, or as Peter would say “Top Marks”.                                       

The park show for Hartwood Acres is all packed.  That was a challenge pulling together.We are doing LE CORSAIRE which we rented in April when we performed it and returned the rental, which means we had to pull costumes from stock to perform it.  We used alot of our own costumes in April but alot of what is in the performance is what we rented.  During the studio dress I counted 14 ballets that we pulled costumes from to put it together. (To name a few: CARMEN, ROMEO AND JULIET, THEME AND VARIATIONS, SWAN LAKE, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SLEEPING BEAUTY and NAPOLI.)  It looks good, thank goodness.   BROOD is a new ballet choreographed by one of our talented dancers, Cooper Verona.  It is  a very nice piece.  It makes you happy to watch.  It only needed 12 costumes.  We pulled the pants and skirts and bought the shirts and blouses. Then FLAMES IN PARIS, we pulled costumes from stock and added red white and blue cumberbunds and sashes.  Another day in Paradise.  It will be a wonderful performance.  It is very refreshing to watch ballet under the stars.

Stay tuned for more updates, things are happening real fast,  we only have two months til opening night.  What happened to Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of summer?   GISELLE!