Ballet’s origins date back to the majestic era of the 15th century Italian Renaissance Courts. Ballet costumes during this period were made of extravagant cloths with heavy brocades, huge ornaments and head pieces that restricted movement. As a result, during the 18th century, a shorter version of ballet skirts was introduced and caught the attention of ballet critics and audiences alike. Ballerinas donned calf length ballet costumes accompanied by pointed satin shoes making it easier for them to perform. Men on the other hand, wore tights and long sleeved shirts. These shirts were usually covered with shorter jackets. The sleeves of the ballet costumes for men and women were determined upon by the theme of the ballet. As a result, there were various styles of ballet costumes, a tradition that can be seen even today!
South Bay Ballet’s elaborate Nutcracker costumes – from Mother Ginger’s immense skirt that conceals a dozen children underneath to Dream Clara’s multilayered tutu embellished with hundreds of crystals – were created under the original direction of celebrated local set designer, Jenny Tomich. The fanciful costumes were brought to life for the inaugural 2004 performance by many trained hands headed by Diane Padelford, Diane Fresquez and Janelle Ozeran. Each season, most of the costumes receive small makeovers as parts begin to wear and fray; as well as new costumes fashioned for South Bay Ballet’s ever-increasing company of dancers. Measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, and fitting an array of tutus, vests, jackets, coats and dresses, takes hundreds of hours of work by our faithful volunteers.