Through the Tulle Virtual Tour

Thank you you for joining us for a virtual tour of Through the Tulle, an exhibition featuring the finest costumes from Ballet Theatre Company‘s collection.

In-person Through the Tulle self-guided tours are offered on weekend afternoons from November 28 to  December 20. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Purchase tickets here!

Please note

  • To listen to the audio, click on the play arrows.
  • To read more about the costumes or ballets, click the gray boxes with the +
  • Read the full exhibition tour booklet here


About the Through the Tulle Exhibition

(length 2:07)
The Hierarchy in Ballet
A ballet company contracts dancers at different levels, which form a hierarchy within the company. The higher-ranking dancers are usually selected to perform more solos or featured roles, and have earned more critical acclaim than their peers in lower ranked positions. Typically, ballet companies in the United States offer five key positions to dancers auditioning for a part including principals, soloists, first artists or junior soloists, corps de ballet, and character artists.

The principals, or senior principals, are the top-ranking dancers who are typically cast in leading roles and often become the cornerstones of their ballet companies. Female principals will likely be seen wearing the most embellished tutus, while male principals are typically outfitted in tunics of exquisite detail.

Soloists perform solo variations and often learn principal roles as understudies, occasionally performing such roles when a principal is injured or has to miss a show. Some companies include a senior or first soloist rank that designates rising stars of the company.

The Corps de Ballet level is the lowest ranking in the company. This level features an ensemble of dancers who perform in unison. Dancers in this rank do not typically perform solo roles, but rather perform in support of the leading roles. Many classical ballets call for large groups of female dancers to create the desired atmosphere or to further develop the ballet’s story. Some companies appoint first artists, promising members of the corps de ballet who are, at times, selected for solo parts. These dancers, however, usually continue to dance as corps members after each contract.

Character artists are the final level of the ballet company hierarchy, though these dancers often outrank all but the principals. Character artists are often respected senior members of a company who perform roles that require experience in acting and skilled dancing.


The Nutcracker

(length 1:56)

Clara Stahlbaum’s Party Dress

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  2002

Photo by Erica Marie Photography



Mrs. Stahlbaum’s Party Dress

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  2002

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
Classically, the time period of the Act I “Party Scene” in The Nutcracker is of the Victorian era, therefore, all female party guest costumes are of a Victorian era style. All skirts include a crinoline or hoop skirt underneath the overlaying petticoats. The young party girls even wear bloomers! Clara’s party dress and Mrs. Stahlbaum’s party dress were specially designed to not only accentuate the importance of their characters, but coordinate with each other to signify their mother-daughter relationship.

Godfather Drosselmeyer

Designers  Tracy Dorman, JT Ghamo, and Pat Nurnberger
Date Created   2002, 2018

From the Costume Room
 Drosselmeyer’s velvet cape with pink satin lining was created in 2002, the first year BTC presented its version of The Nutcracker, by a BTC volunteer. The tuxedo was rented for many years from BTC’s long-time supporter, JT Ghamo. The company eventually bought and altered the tuxedo to include hidden pockets for the character to perform magic tricks throughout the first act. In 2018, Pat Nurnberger created a new vest for the character to match the inner pink lining of the cape.

The Story of The Nutcracker
Where better to begin than with one of the most cherished and traditionalized ballets, The Nutcracker. With visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, many young ballet dancers  have blossomed after experiencing an inspiring production of The Nutcracker. This story, however, was not always as popular as it is today. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and storyline adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the 1892 premiere of The Nutcracker was very unsuccessful. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the ballet became popular, particularly in North America, and it has since grown to become a holiday tradition for many.

The story begins with a Christmas Eve party at the Stahlbaum house. Clara Stahlbaum and her brother Fritz play with their friends while the parents mingle. Clara’s jolly godfather, Drosselmeyer, makes a dramatic entrance and bestows all of the children with toys, including a special nutcracker doll for Clara. Little does Clara know that her new toy, which she loves so dearly, is full of magic. After the party guests leave, Clara drifts off to sleep under the brightly lit Christmas tree with her nutcracker doll tucked under her arm.

Awakened by the clock striking midnight, Clara realizes that she is surrounded by mice! She slowly begins to shrink to their size and is caught among the scurrying rodents and their fearless leader, the Mouse King. Luckily, the nutcracker doll comes to her rescue with an army of toy soldiers. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King battle. When it seems the Mouse King will be victorious, Clara calls his attention away from the Nutcracker allowing time for her brave doll to defeat the Mouse King with one final stab of his sword. Seeing that the Nutcracker has been hurt, Clara rushes to his side. Drosselmeyer magically appears and transforms the doll into a handsome Prince. The Prince, thankful for Clara’s bravery and care, leads her into the Land of the Snowflakes, where they are greeted by the Snow King and Queen. The royals and their snowflakes dance for Clara and the Prince before sending them off to visit the Land of the Sweets.

The Dew Drop Fairy welcomes Clara and the Prince into the Land of the Sweets, where they enjoy a celebration of dances from all parts of the world. Each dance offers Clara gifts such as tea from China, coffee from Arabia, chocolate from Spain, and candy canes from Russia. Danish shepherdesses perform on their flutes, Gingerbread cookies emerge from under Mother Ginger’s skirt, and a string of beautiful flowers dance to a waltz. The Dew Drop Fairy, the ruler of the Land of the Sweets, presents Clara with a transformation box. Once inside, Clara is magically transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her Prince takes her by the hand and leads her into a beautiful pas de deux under the stars.

Suddenly shaken awake by her younger brother Fritz, Clara realizes her journey with her Nutcracker was all but a dream. She cradles her nutcracker doll and reminisces on her wonderful adventure.


The Nutcracker

(length 1:35)

Mirliton Lead

Designer  Tracy Dorman and Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  Original tutu created in 2003, re-embellished to its current condition in 2018.

Photo by Erica Marie Photography



Mirliton Corps de Ballet

Designer  Tracy Dorman and Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  Originally designed in 2018 by Tracy Dorman for BTC’s Cinderella, redesigned in 2018 by Pat Nurnberger for The Nutcracker.

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
Conceivably the most varied divertissement* among different versions of the classic story, choreographer Stephanie Dattellas knew she wanted her Mirliton dancers to dance with flutes. After stumbling upon beautiful golden lace trim, Dattellas called upon designer Pat Nurnberger to add her creative touch. Nurnberger started with research on Mirliton costume designs and found a black and white tutu that had zig-zagged edging on the ends of the overlay. Inspired, she reinterpreted the idea using the golden lace, spending two to three hours laying out the pattern, and then hand stitching each piece to the top of the tutu. She carefully removed the snowflake decals from the corps costumes and added matching lace sashes and accents to the bodice, careful to not overpower the Lead’s regal quality.

*A divertissement is a short dance added to a ballet to display dancers’ talents either as a solo or a group piece. 


Don Quixote

(length 1:08)

Kitri Tutu

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  Spring 2016

Photo by Erica Marie Photography



Don Quixote Tunic

Designer  Tracy Dorman and Catherine Savino
Date Created  Spring 2016

Photo by Erica Marie Photography



From the Costume Room
The striking black and white tutu is designer Tracy Dorman’s favorite of her collection. The fabric caught the designer’s eye while out shopping and was “too good to pass up.” When the company decided to stage Don Quixote Pas de Deux for its spring repertoire performance, Dorman pulled out the stashed fabric and presented it to the Artistic Director who agreed with Dorman’s vision. Dorman thought the deep V-neck bodice style would best fit flirtatious Kitri. Luckily there was just enough material left over to create a matching men’s tunic. With some research into Spanish matador outfits, fitting embellishments were added to complete the set.

The Story of Don Quixote:
Don Quixote, based on the famous novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. It was first performed by the Bolshoi Ballet on December 26, 1869 and later elaborated and presented again on November 21, 1871. All modern productions of the classic story, however, are interpretations of a version choreographed by Alexander Gorsky first staged by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1900, and again by the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg in 1902. While the 1902 production was not well received, the ballet lived on even after the revolution of 1917, slowly becoming a part of permanent repertoire in Russian theaters.

The story begins with Don Quixote setting out on a journey with his servant, Sancho Panza, in search of adventure like his favorite literary heroes. Like any chivalrous knight, he also is in search of the woman of his dreams, his Dulcinea. During his travels, he arrives at a town square in Barcelona, where an innkeeper, Lorenzo, is entertaining guests. Kitri, Lorenzo’s flirtatious daughter, and her lover Basilio, the barber, are also a part of the festivities. Lorenzo does not approve of the poor barber and would rather see his daughter with Gamache, a rich nobleman who is very interested in marrying beautiful Kitri. Don Quixote appears, causing commotion among the crowd. Lorenzo welcomes him and offers him refreshments while the girls play tricks on Sancho Panza. Upon seeing Kitri, Don Quixote is taken aback by her beauty and wonders if he has at last found his Dulcinea.

As the party continues, Kitri and Basilio flee with the help of their friends Espada and Mercedes and wander into a gypsy camp. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza follow them. Along the way, Don Quixote sees windmills turn in the wind, which he mistakes for giants coming to attack his Dulcinea. He attempts to fight them, but fails miserably and collapses into a deep sleep where he dreams of Kitri as his Dulcinea.

Awakened by Lorenzo and Gamache, who are looking for Kitri and Basilio, Don Quixote takes pity on the young lovers and attempts to lead the two men astray. Finally discovered, Kitri is forced by Lorenzo to accept Gamache as her husband. Basilio puts on an elaborate show, making it seem as though he had killed himself, and upon learning of the farce, Kitri implores Don Quixote to persuade Lorenzo to wed her to the “corpse.” As soon as Lorenzo, who feels  sorry for Kitri, agrees, Basilio springs back to life! Triumphantly, Kitri leaves to prepare for marriage while Don Quixote and Basilio salute Lorenzo and Gamache for stoically accepting the inevitable. The village gathers to celebrate the marriage and Don Quixote congratulates the couple, bidding them warm farewell as he resumes his everlasting adventures.

Sleeping Beauty

(length 0:48)

Princess Aurora’s Birthday Tutu

Designer  Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  Spring 2019

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
Aurora’s sixteenth birthday is the first time the audience is introduced to the Princess Aurora character. The princess, being the center of attention, needs to be easily recognized, while portraying a sense of royalty and maintaining an air of youth and naivete. Pat Nurnberger was asked to take on this delicate character’s look, and was tasked with fulfilling choreographer Stephanie Dattellas’ vision for the princess, who was to be dressed in pink with gold accents, the perfect combination of youth and royalty. The tutu skirt was already created some time ago by Tracy Dorman, so Nurnberger started with creating a bodice to match the preexisting tutu and Dattellas’ vision. For embellishments, she happened to have wide, gold lace that she used first on the bodice, then incorporated onto the tutu overlay. Nurnberger admits to not liking tutu plates that are solid fabric. She says she enjoys letting her “creative ya-yas” play with geometric shapes and fussing with the geometry of the patterns. “I only enjoy sewing when it is part of the creative process,” she says, and her creativity clearly shows through on each of her designs.

The Story of Sleeping Beauty
The second of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet scores, Sleeping Beauty, was an overnight success unlike the composer’s first ballet, Swan Lake, that was not initially recognized for its musical genius. The beloved fairytale was the first collaboration between choreographer Marius Petipa and Tchaikovsky, who later went on to collaborate a second time in the creation of The Nutcracker.

The four-act ballet begins with the christening of the newly born Princess Aurora. At the King and Queen’s celebration, fairies come to offer the princess their own unique gifts showcased in their distinct movement quality and motifs. The Lilac Fairy, the last of the fairies to give her gift, is interrupted by the dramatic entrance of Carabosse, the evil fairy. Upset that she wasn’t invited to the party, Carabosse puts a curse on the young princess; on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and die. The Lilac Fairy, unable to completely reverse the curse, places a spell on the princess that she will not die, but rather fall into a deep sleep to one day be awakened by true love’s kiss.

On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the King and Queen throw a celebration inviting suitors from all the corners of the world to come and seek the princess’ hand in marriage. An old woman interrupts the party, offering the beautiful princess a bouquet of roses. Aurora, while dancing with the bouquet, pricks her finger on a hidden spindle and falls to the ground. Carabosse, disguised as the old woman, reveals herself, sending terror throughout the party guests before vanishing. The Lilac Fairy, remembering her spell, puts the whole kingdom to sleep to await the day when the evil fairy’s curse will be broken.

One hundred years later, the kingdom of Prince Desiree is celebrating May Day. The Prince, upset that he has not found a queen, wanders off into the forest alone, not wanting to partake in the festivities. While in the forest, he meets the Lilac Fairy, who shows him a vision of Princess Aurora. Overcome with love, he agrees to follow the Lilac Fairy and rescue the sleeping princess. Carabosse, unable to defeat Prince Desiree, is destroyed when he breaks her curse, awakening Princess Aurora with true love’s kiss.

The kingdom awakens with Aurora, and the two are wed surrounded by their fairytale friends including Little Red Riding Hood and the Grey Wolf, Princess Florine and Bluebird, Puss in Boots and the White Cat, and precious jewels.


The Nutcracker

 (length 1:35)

Noah Webster Doll

Designer  Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  October 2018

Photo by Erica Marie Photography



Blue-Backed Speller Ballerina Doll

Designer  Pat Nurnberger
Date created  October 2018

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
The costume creation for these historical figures involved extensive research by costume designer Pat Nurnberger. Nurnberger studied images of Noah Webster noting his style and rather well put together appearance. She used a painting of him dressed in earth-colored tones as the color palette for his ensemble. She set out to find fabrics that supported her vision. “It really came down to what I could find,” she said settling on a paisley print for Webster’s vest which worked well with a stretch wool fabric for his jacket.

Since the Blue-Backed Speller Ballerina Doll wasn’t a nameable historical figure, Nurnberger simply researched young girls’ clothing for the same time period. A portrait of a young girl in a white babydoll dress with blue ribbon accents became the inspiration for Webster’s student doll. Nurnberger, with her experience in costume design, knew that an empire style dress, as shown in the portrait image, would not offer a particularly beautiful silhouette especially when moving on stage, so she enhanced the character’s aesthetics by dropping the waist line to rest at the dancer’s actual waist. The lace and ribbon embellishments were all leftover materials from other production’s costumes that she pieced together to fit the quality of the doll character perfectly.

Gingerbread Cookies

Date Purchased  2002, revived in 2018

Photo by Thomas Giroir

From the Costume Room
The Gingerbread Cookie costumes were purchased in 2002. BTC, only being three years old, only had enough funds to purchase half of the quantity and the next year, purchased the other half to complete their set of sixteen gingerbread cookie costumes. After four years, the company commissioned new choreography which included Polichinelle—little children or clowns—instead of the Gingerbread children. The costumes went into storage for 13 years until current Artistic Director, Stephanie Dattellas, decided to restore the Gingerbread children and choreographed her version of the scene to include twelve Gingerbread Cookies (six girls and six boys), a gingerbread house replica as Mother Ginger’s skirt, and two hungry Foxes.


Sleeping Beauty

(length: 0:39)


Designer  Norma Savarino
Date Created  April 15–20, 2019

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
As the villain of the fairytale, Carabosse’s costume needed to reflect her evil disposition. Choreographer Stephanie Dattellas decided the evil fairy would perform in character shoes, offering an even bigger contrast in the good versus evil story. She would also employ ravens as her minions, assigning black raven feathers to the character’s identity. With raven feathers on the mind, designer Norma Savarino came across a black fabric lined with sequins in a repetitive swirl that she imagined could loosely resemble feathers. Without using a pattern, she began by laying the fabric on a mannequin and adjusting it so that the lines of the sequins ran vertically on the body. In order to make her skirt look feathery, Savarino inserted six triangle-shaped panels along the hipline, matching the up-and-down sequin pattern. The quality and weight of the fabric allowed the dress to maintain a thin shape when hanging, but fill out when moving, much like a raven’s wings. To add to the feather quality at the bottom, Savarino cut up into the sequins creating a frayed look. Black mesh was used to form the sleeves, and appliques were cut and added from elbow to fingertip. Later, she added a high collar to bring more attention to the character’s face, whose facial expressions played a major role in telling the story.

The cloak, worn by Carabosse in her entrance and final scenes, includes a velvet textured material with many rows of long feathers. Savarino cut neoprene, a fabric used for creating scuba suits, into feather-like shapes to create a fuller effect. The sides of the cape were split to make room for the 15-foot-wide set of raven wings that the evil fairy reveals at the end, before she is defeated by Prince Desiree. The wings, attached to a backpack-like harness and worn under the cape, are supported by reflective snow markers, and seamlessly blend into her wardrobe creating “a train of feathers on the ground.” When asked about her costume designs, Savarino says, “I engineer each costume to perform as hard as the dancer does, and when I know their personality, body type, and the way the costume needs to perform, I work to bring it to where it needs to go, and then I stop. I knew that [Carabosse] would liquify that gown.”

The payoff is always to see the kids onstage just filled with life and filling the costume with energyNorma Savarino
Parts of a Tutu
The bodice is the top corset-looking part of the tutu that wraps around the dancer’s torso and includes attached shoulder straps. The bodice must fit snugly to the dancer’s body; any wrinkles or loose fabric are indicators of an unacceptable fit. In fact, the designers cut the side pieces along the fabric’s bias* to take advantage of its stretchy nature, creating the tightest fit possible while still allowing movement.

*The bias grain of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as “the bias”, is any grain that falls between the straight and cross grains. When the grain is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads it is referred to as “true bias.” Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other.

The basque is a smooth section, made of the same fabric as the bodice, that extends from under the bodice to the top of the dancer’s hip bones. Panties are sewn to the bottom portion of the basque which forms the base for the many layers of net.

A tutu has an average of 12 layers of frills made out of net or tulle, with some designs adding up to 16 layers for extra fullness. The layers decrease in length, from the longest on the top (or outside) to the shortest at the very bottom, which helps the tutu to be self-supported. The layers are attached 15 mm from one another, determining the exact length by the height of the designated dancer. When creating a pancake or platter tutu, a wire hoop is placed in a casing on the 8th layer to support the tutu’s stark shape. 

The Process of Making a Tutu with Tracy Dorman
The creation of a pancake or platter tutu is a lengthy process that takes even a seasoned costume designer like Tracy Dorman countless hours. To begin, Dorman will create the design concept, often in discussion with the choreographer, which is used to determine the style, color scheme, and specific details for the character and the scene in which they appear. Once the design has been chosen, fabric is selected. For a traditional tutu, 15 yards of net are needed for the skirt alone, double if made with tulle. Additional fabric is needed for the panties, bodice, and overlay.

Once the fabric has been collected, Dorman begins with cutting and sewing outer casings to the underpanties. The panties are then marked to indicate where each layer of net will be attached. The net itself is cut into strips of varying widths (typically from 2”-15” wide), and arranged in piles, one for each layer of the tutu. Each layer consists of 4 to 6 lengths of fabric depending on its location on the tutu. Dorman scallops the ends to soften rigid edges, and gathers each layer into a pleat.

Next, the layers are stitched on to the panty from the bottom up, each layer being ironed flat as it is applied. When the top layer (the largest in diameter) is completed, the basque, created from the same material as the bodice for continuity, is attached. The basque is lined with twill or a similar fabric for durability and a waistband, often made from ribbon, is sewn to the top. Next comes the difficult process of sewing the seams. First, the back seam is sewn, followed by the crotch where elastic is threaded through the outer casing to ensure a snug fit. To further develop the tutu’s flat shape, Dorman lays it flat and places heavy books on it overnight.

With the end in sight, Dorman threads wire through the net casing within the layers of the tutu for support. Then, each layer is tacked by hand, “an obnoxious job,” according to the long-time costumer. The overlay, or the decorative top, is cut and hand-sewn to the top of the tulle layers. Embellishments, such as crystals, beads, or feathers are added to the overlay and bodice to enhance the design. Next, Dorman will sew a set of hooks and bars to the bodice and basque. Often, Dorman will add an additional row of hooks and bars to accommodate different dancers who may need to wear the same costume in a performance run. Shoulder straps are added, often dyed with tea or colored with make-up to match the dancer’s skin tone.

The basic tutu skirt takes anywhere from 20-25 hours to complete, and up to an additional 25-30 hours to add embellishments and ornate details. On average, a tutu costs around $2,500 with the most elaborate tutus ranging between $5,000-$10,000.

Itemized Tutu Supply List

Industrialized sewing machine = upwards of $1000
Good quality fabric scissors = $25
Needles = $3


15 yards of net = $1.50-$6 per yard
1.5 yards of overlay fabric = $35-$100/yard depending on the fabric
Matching colored thread = $12/spool, need about 4 spools per tutu
Tutu hooks and eyes = $1.25 a piece, typically spend about $15 per tutu
1.5 yards of ¼ in. elastic for the panty lining = $3/yard
1 yard of ⅜ in elastic for shoulder straps = $3/yard


Crystals = $200
Beaded braid = $1-$50/yard
Lace trim = $1-$35/yard
Appliques = $1-$25 per item or yard

Additional pieces

Sleeve puffs – includes elastics, fabric, and embellishments

Types of Tutus
The first recorded use of the word “tutu” was in 1881 – the same year Edgar Degas showcased his famous sculpture La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years). Marie Taglioni of the Paris Opera Ballet was first seen wearing a long gauzy white skirt cut to reveal her ankles in 1832 in the premiere of the classical ballet La Sylphide. This skirt was eventually given the name Romantic tutu matching the name of the era in which it was first used. The skirts gradually shortened to reveal more of the ballerina’s lines and eventually were starched to stick straight out from the hips.

The Romantic Tutu, named after the era of which it was first seen, is recognized by its long flowing tulle skirt, made of five or six layers of tulle. The tulle is cut in many lengths ending anywhere between the dancer’s knees and ankles.

 The Bell Tutu is midway between a Classical tutu and a Romantic tutu. Its many layers of netting stick straight out from the dancer’s hips, however they are not supported by a hoop and therefore fall in a bell shape usually ending mid-thigh.

The Pancake Tutu is a Classical style tutu that is most commonly associated with ballerinas. It consists of several layers of tulle and net that is supported by a wire hoop allowing the layers to stick straight out from the hips.

 The Platter Tutu, similar to the Pancake tutu, juts out from the dancer’s hips, but this style has a flat top allowing for decorations and embellishments, instead of pleats.

The Powder-puff (Balanchine) Tutu is the most modern style of tutu created and  often named after New York City Ballet’s founder George Balanchine. It consists of a short skirt with many layers of tulle all cut the same length and loosely tacked  together offering a softer appearance and allowing for more movement.


The Nutcracker

(length: 1:58)

Waltz of the Flowers Corps de Ballet

Designer  Tracy Dorman and Catherine Savino
Date Created  2006, finished 2010

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
There are a total of twelve pink tulle-skirted corps costumes covered in a beautiful, but very expensive, overlay. In fact, the overlay was so expensive that budgeting did not allow for the costumes to be fully completed for several years. Between that time, the only embellishments that were included was the still existing pink ruffle trim and white flower sewn to the bodice neckline. When the overlay was finally added in 2010, motifs from its design were individually cut and hand-stitched to the bodice to bring the set to completion.

Dew Drop Fairy

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  2006

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
This principal tutu is unlike others. While most pancake tutus are made with several layers of net and wires, Dorman used a softer tulle and lace overlay she had purchased years before after being drawn to it in a fabric store. “Because the tulle is softer than net, [the fabric] wouldn’t lay right with a wire,” she says. In order for the skirt to take the desired shape, she needed double the amount of tulle layers—and double the amount of time.

Up close [the Dew Drop tutu] appears to be less ornate than some of the other tutus, but the stage lights catch the crystals on the costume so that they sparkle and dance like the morning dew.Tracy

Flower Petals

Designer Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  November 2018

Photo by Erica Marie Photography


From the Costume Room
With such a large ensemble that includes constant sweeping movement, color coordination for the “Waltz of the Flowers” scene was essential to its design. With the addition of the Flower Petals role came the opportunity to expand upon the color scheme. Designer Pat Nurnberger set out with samples of the Corps de Ballet and Dew Drop Fairy costumes to gather options that would suggest “a mixed bouquet of flowers so all the colors would live together onstage and blend nicely.” Darker toned burgundy and deep purple colors lent more depth from stage and paired well with the existing costumes and choreographed formations without getting lost in a blur of waltzing movements. A set of eight were made—four burgundy and four purple.


Sleeping Beauty

(length: 0:29)

Canary Fairy

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  February 2019

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
The choice of bodice style for this magical whimsical fairy was one that designer Tracy Dorman has always favored. Dorman, originally drawn to the deep V neckline and its aesthetically pleasing presentation from stage, has found that the particular pattern and style always produces a well-fitting bodice for dancers of all different body types. Having made her favorite tutu from the same pattern, she thought the style would suit the fairy character as well as best fit for the dancer cast in the role.



(length: 0:36)

Cinderella’s Rags dress

Designer  Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  April 2018

Photo by Thomas Giroir



Cinderella’s Ball Gown

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  February–May 2018

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
Cinderella’s ball gown is a garment many young fairytale lovers dream about. In some versions of the ballet, Cinderella is seen in a decorated pancake tutu, but more often, her ball gown attire is of a romantic tutu style with a full, fluffy skirt that moves easily. Choreographer Stephanie Dattellas had a vision of her Cinderella princess dressed in silver at the grand ball. Designer Tracy Dorman set out to find fabric that would fit Dattellas’ vision, but that also would not fade under the bright stage lights. Although rather heavy to make an easily flowing skirt, she found gorgeous silver fabric fit for a princess. Using very pale grey-colored tulle for the underskirts, Dorman cut back on the number of tulle layers knowing that the heavy and thick fabric could interfere with the dancer’s abilities if made too heavy. While maintaining the overall desired aesthetic of having a full, elegant-looking skirt, Dorman wished to further improve the skirt’s movement after seeing it in motion during a promotional photoshoot. She added tapered pieces to the sides of the dress so that the skirt would flare out near the hem when turning without adding any more fabric to the waistline. Dorman really was Cinderella’s magical Fairy Godmother.
The Story of Cinderella
The first literary version of the Cinderella fairytale dates back to 1634. The Imperial Ballet premiered its version of the ballet in 1893. Early productions, however, were nothing like the Cinderella we know and love today. Between the years of 1940 and 1944, Sergei Prokofiev composed what is now considered to be the popular fairytale ballet’s score. In November 1945, the Bolshoi Ballet premiered the composition in its Cinderella production featuring choreography by Rostislav Zakharov. Cinderella is best known for its memorable score, often lavish set designs, and for its comedic stepsister characters who are frequently played by men.

The ballet begins with young Cinderella tending to her cruel stepmother and gawky stepsisters. The stepsisters torment poor Cinderella, but she always finds solace in her mice friends and manages to maintain a spirit of goodwill. A message arrives from the royal palace inviting all the young, eligible ladies of the kingdom to a ball where the Prince, soon to be king, is rumored to be in search of his queen. As Cinderella’s stepsisters begin to prepare, an old beggar woman appears at their door. Disgusted, the stepfamily turns her away, but Cinderella offers her food. The beggar woman tells Cinderella that her kindness will soon reward her.

The stepsisters continue preparing for the ball. Cinderella, in the midst of cleaning up their messes, puts on one of the dresses they’ve tossed aside and asks to accompany them to the ball. The stepsisters, enraged to see Cinderella in a ball gown, rip the dress to shreds and leave Cinderella broken-hearted. The beggar woman appears again, this time transforming into a Fairy Godmother who calls upon the Season Fairies to help Cinderella prepare for the ball. Before Cinderella leaves for the castle, the Fairy Godmother warns her that when the clock strikes midnight, the spell will be broken and all of her magical gifts will fade away.

Once at the palace, Cinderella is greeted by the Prince himself, who is immediately struck by her beauty and asks her to dance. The stepmother and stepsisters do not recognize Cinderella, but make several unsuccessful attempts at stealing the Prince’s attention. When the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella frantically leaves the palace, but in her haste, leaves behind one of her glass slippers that, despite the Fairy Godmother’s warning, does not fade away.

The next day, the Prince goes in search of Cinderella, trying the glass slipper on every young woman in the kingdom who attended the ball. When he arrives at Cinderella’s home, the stepsisters try mercilessly to fit the small glass shoe on their large feet. The stepmother, desperate to marry into royalty, faints after attempting to fit her own foot into the slipper. As Cinderella rushes to her aid, the matching glass slipper that she had kept from her magical night falls from her pocket. The Prince, seeing the slipper, immediately recognizes the modest Cinderella dressed in rags as the beautiful princess from the ball. The Fairy Godmother weds the reunited lovers and they live happily ever after.



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Cinderella Ballroom Corps

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  Spring 2018

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
On a shopping trip for fabrics to use in The Nutcracker, Tracy Dorman came across a beautiful, gradient turquoise overlay material. “I saw it and thought, ‘wow, that’s too good to pass up.’” When later discussing costumes for Cinderella, she decided the fabric was a perfect glass-slipper-fit for the Ballroom Corps de Ballet with its silver swirling accents complimenting Cinderella’s silver ball gown perfectly. With a total of twelve Corps de Ballet Ballroom costumes to make, Dorman worked in assembly-line fashion. With each costume taking approximately 10 to 12 hours to create, it was well worth it to see them shimmer when dancing under the stage lights.


Sleeping Beauty

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Princess Florine

Designer  Tracy Dorman
Date Created  Spring 2019

Photo by Erica Marie Photography




Designer  Pat Nurnberger
Date Created  Spring 2019

Photo by Erica Marie Photography

From the Costume Room
The overlay fabric for Princess Florine’s tutu was the first decision in the creation process. While fabric shopping, the royal blue and gold fabric immediately caught the eye of choreographer Stephanie Dattellas. After presenting it to designer Tracy Dorman, Dorman got to work creating the tutu for the princess character. Using her favorite bodice pattern, the tutu took shape within several weeks. The most tedious part of the process for this particular costume was adding the embellishments, which were motifs of the intricate overlay material, cut out and hand-sewn to the bodice.

While Dorman created the Princess’ tutu, Pat Nurnberger was simultaneously creating the Bluebird tunic. Nurnberger, who very much enjoys creating men’s costumes, began with some research into bluebird tunic styles seen in other ballet company’s versions of Sleeping Beauty. Not finding any one in particular to work from, she tapped into her own fairytale imagination to create the look. She chose her favorite tunic shape as the base, which includes a slightly pointed bodice with tabs to help cover gaps when the arms are raised. It also features tabs that stick off the shoulders to help cover any obvious indication that the sleeves are part of a secondary shirt under the tunic. Keeping these two pieces separate helps to ensure that the bodice will not ride up on the dancer when moving. Since the tutu and the tunic are a set, Nurnberger used the same royal blue, bengaline fabric that was used to create the tutu bodice, for the tunic. Nurnberger, however, thought the royal blue to be a heavy color for a bluebird, so she chose to include white sequenced allegra material that she had stashed in a drawer of fabric scraps to lighten it up and create a more bird-like, feathery feel. Nurnberger also had a stash of white venice, lace leaf fabric that she cut apart and used to create a feathery pattern all over the bodice. With leftover scraps from Princess Florine’s finished tutu, she gave the tunic its finishing touches, adding cut out motifs of the overlay design to the neckline and waist.

The Story of Princess Florine and Bluebird
Princess Florine and Bluebird appear in the fourth act of Sleeping Beauty as part of Princess Aurora and Prince Desiree’s wedding celebration. The two characters share their own unique and complicated fairytale. Princess Florine is a beautiful and kind princess who catches the eye of Prince Charming as he searches for his true love to wed and make his queen. Princess Florine’s stepmother, however, has her mind set on making her less-than-pleasant daughter, Truitonne, the Prince’s queen instead.

To keep the Prince away from Florine, the stepmother persuades the king to lock Florine in a tower. Outraged, the Prince begs to speak to her. The queen agrees, but deceives him and sends Truitonne to meet him instead. In the darkness of their meeting place, the Prince mistakes Truitonne for Florine and asks her to marry him. With the help of her fairy godmother, Mazilla, Truitonne plans to continue to deceive the Prince until they are married, but on their wedding day, the Prince realizes he has been tricked and refuses to marry Truitonne. As punishment for breaking his promise, Mazilla curses the Prince, turning him into a bluebird. The curse doesn’t discourage the Prince, as he is now able to fly up to Florine’s tower and brings her gifts of jewels and shares his beautiful song.

The queen later learns of this exchange and orders that the fir tree where the bluebird perches be covered in sharp glass and metal in an attempt to hurt the bird prince. When Florine calls for the bluebird, he lands on the sharp tree and is debilitated. When the bluebird does not answer her call, Florine believes that he has betrayed her. An enchanter hears the bluebird’s lament and rescues him. The enchanter persuades Mazilla to turn the bluebird back into a man for a few months, if after which he still refuses to marry Truitonne, he will be turned back into a bluebird. Soon after, the King passes, and the kingdom demands the release of Florine. The queen’s evil plan is then revealed, and she is killed for trying to prevent Florine from becoming the new queen.

With her new found freedom, Florine disguises herself as a peasant woman, and sets out on a journey to find her love. Along the way, she meets a fairy disguised as an old woman who tells her that King Charming has returned to his human form after agreeing to marry Truitonne. The fairy then gives Florine four magical eggs. She uses the first egg to climb a great hill of ivory. The second egg holds a chariot pulled by doves that bring her to King Charming’s castle. Due to her disguise, she cannot reach the King, but she offers to sell Truitonne the finest jewelry that King Charming had given her when she was in the tower for the price of one night in the Chamber of Echoes—a secret chamber where anything said while inside can be heard in the king’s room. Truitonne shows the jewels to the King to determine a worthy price, and the King, recognizing the jewels, is saddened. Truitonne accepts the exchange and that night, Florine laments to her love all night long. The King, however, has taken a sleeping potion and does not hear her. The next day, in distress, Florine breaks the third egg to reveal a tiny coach drawn by mice. She again trades it for a night in the Chamber of Echoes, but only the pages hear her. She opens the last egg to find a pie with six singing birds, and gives it to a page who tells her that the King takes sleeping potions at night. She bribes the page with the singing birds to let her into the chamber one last time, instructing him not to give the King a sleeping potion. That night, the King hears Florine’s laments and runs to the Chamber of Echoes, where the two lost lovers are finally reunited. The enchanter and the fairy protect the two from Mazilla’s harm, and when Truitonne attempts to interfere, she is turned into a sow. King Charming and Queen Florine are married and live happily ever after.