Ballet Ouest’s Pan! 2016 Costume Diary
At the end of each teaching year, Ballet Ouest presents a ballet production. 2016 saw Pan, Claude Caron’s adaptation. We have already presented this piece 3 years ago so most of the costumes were already designed and fabricated. My job, as the costume manager, was mostly to fit, adjust and reproduce the pieces that were going to be used again. Classes are growing at the school each year, so I was asked to create a new costume for the Fairies, replace the Shadows’ costume and update the main character, Peter.
Creating the Fairies:
We had a full class of Intermediate students this year compared to last time we had Pan on stage. Unfortunately, the costumes my friend Christina had designed and made, were not able to be used. As I was pressed for time and had all my volunteers working on the 40 + Shadow costumes, I opted to use a tutu dress already made and purchased online and make beautiful wings and headpieces for them.
I have made wings in the past, but I wanted really pretty and intricate ones! So after looking online for DIY tutorials for Fairy wings, I decided to go to my local hardware store, buy some thick gauge wire to create the shape of the wings and go to the dollar store and buy out all the nylon stockings they had! Some Krylon spray paint and some glitter glue and away I went.
I followed these 2 sites' instructions:
First, I made a form using wood and screws so that each wing would be sensibly the same shape. I then inserted a nylon over the form and had my many volunteers sew in the spots where we wanted the shape to show. My lovely daughter, Sabrina, helped me spray paint them and decorate them one afternoon. A flower was added to the center, to hide the many zip ties used to attach the wings together. My team then proceeded to sew the wings unto the tutus. Sabrina also created all the headpieces that matched the dress and wing colours.
I was extremely pleased with the result! They looked lovely on stage and the choreography was simply breath taking.
Last time we presented Pan, our Peter was much younger. The designer opted to use organza for the top. This time around, our Peter, who is the same dancer, is much older. He is now a young man and his part required some pretty fancy flying across the stage with the use of a harness, so I opted to use some stretch types of fabrics. This enabled him to fly and dance with ease. The choice of fabric also suited the role better as I used stretchy organic looking fabrics that looked like a young boy living in Neverland could have thrown together as an outfit. I also had to make him some boots and I decided to sew some old ballet shoe soles on the bottom of Jalie’s pattern #2448 and it worked beautifully! I will definitely make dance boots using this method again! I am very happy with the results and the dancer kept telling me how comfortable he was even wearing the harness
Replacing the Shadows:
The Shadows are danced by our contemporary students. It is a number at the very beginning of the production when Peter Pan loses his shadow. There are about 20 dancers on stage at the same time. Times that by many different casts and it meant I needed to make about 40 costumes, 20 small, 10 mediums and 10 larges. That is a lot of costumes!
Last time around, we put the girls in black leotards, black tights and a small black scarf around the hips. The dancing was impressive but the costume did not represent Peter’s Shadows. I put my thinking cap on and came upon the idea when I was working on re-designing Peter’s costume. Why not make ALL the dancers LOOK like Peter but in black?! My idea was approved by Mr. Caron, I then needed to execute the idea. Having so many dancers at once on stage AND also such a range of sizes, I needed to find an economical way of creating these shadows. Luckily, a really big bolt of black fabric had been donated a few years ago to the studio and it was the perfect weight and I had exactly enough to make all the tops and the hats required. My good friend Maaike helped me create the top’s pattern and I put all my volunteers on the task of cutting and sewing. The results were quite remarkable on stage. Now there was no question that these were Peter’s Shadows.
I guess that I was not the only one happy with the costumes for both our Competition Team and the end of year show. Ballet Ouest presented me with a lovely certificate to show their appreciation.