Stunning scenery, dazzling costumes, and many hours of intense rehearsals
are all a part of what makes a ballet extraordinary. You, the audience, will
never know the incomprehensible number of carefully constructed costume
pieces or the precise backstage bustle that combine to ensure that each and
every dancer looks wonderful. You, however, will experience the splendor
and spectacle of such an elaborate show as South Bay Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Take a closer look at what occurs behind-the-scenes at SBB from Artistic
Director Diane Lauridsen and Wardrobe/Set Designer Janice Munson.
Q. Diane, when and why did you decide to add this challenging, classic ballet to the Company’s repertory?
It was a goal to complete our repertory of Storybook ballets in 2010. I have always considered The Sleeping Beauty to be extremely challenging for a student company, and felt our wonderful dancers and creative team were prepared.
Q. How many hours were invested in choreographing The Sleeping Beauty for South Bay Ballet’s Storybook series which presents child-oriented versions of the full-length ballets?
I started working with the storyline in August of last year, and we have not stopped since! Perfecting the ballet will take place up until very the last minute.
Q. You are known for your collaborative spirit, share with us the resources and talents you drew upon for this production?
Our creative team is exceptional. Candice Davis brings her keen sense of choreographic flow; Alicia Head has an unerring sense of style and knows this ballet inside and out; Elijah Pressman is our pas de deux expert. Together, our vision was to present a child-friendly ballet that did not lose the integrity of the original.
Q. South Bay Ballet has a large company of dancers at all levels of ability, how do you find a role for everyone?
The objective is for each dancer to have a challenge, but one that can and will be met.
Q: Janice, when did you start conceptualizing the costumes and sets for The Sleeping Beauty?
Work began about a year ago, right after we finished costuming for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Thousands of hours by the entire artistic team have gone into this brand new ballet and it will be rewarding to see production come to life on stage.
Q: How did you select the color scheme for this production’s elaborate sets and magnificent costumes?
I think color is one of the most useful elements of design because it is essentially free. My approach is like a painting, you do the background – that’s the scenery; and then you do the people – that’s the costumes. Working closely with the artistic directors is the key to choosing colors that highlight movement.
Q: What are some of the most important things you have to keep in mind when you’re designing ballet costumes?
Dancers put their bodies in positions that would rip the seams of normal clothes, so we take special consideration to allow for freedom of movement as much as possible. Equal thought is given to every costume I design, no matter how small the part or how difficult the role. Also, I try to design costumes that can easily be altered for future casts.
Q: Some dancers have costume changes that have to take place within minutes. How is this accomplished?
Costume changes can be very challenging. Often dancers are required to change layers of costumes, tights, shoes, or headpieces in a matter of minutes. Thoughtful design is as important as the backstage volunteers who keep the dancers organized.
Did you know?
• This brand new production features 110 costumes consisting of 272 costume pieces, 71 headpieces, and 21 tiaras
• Except for the tutu skirt bases, some unitards and tiaras, all of the costumes are made by our in-house costume department
• More than 1,000 hooks and eyes were sewn by South Bay Ballet’s costume department
• Several thousand Swarovski crystals are sewn on by hand using invisible thread
• Hundreds of yards of trim were purchased at the Los Angeles fashion district
• The spinning wheels in our production are from Poland. The large spinning wheel is a working model, altered slightly for our use, and hand-painted and decorated with crystals. The smaller wheels are models of larger wheels with the classic look of old European spinning wheels.