Design, and the Cult of the Ballerina: “The intricate aesthetic of balletis representative of its complex, exacting nature and enduring seduction of the public. The National Ballet of Canada in partnership with The Design Exchange are offering an intimate behind-the-stage look at the ballet company’s style in an exclusive exhibit, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet. Alina Kulesh interviewed exhibit curator and seasoned costume designer, Caroline O’Brien, on the fashion of the ballet.” (The Genteel)
Imagine designing for the ballet? You would spend your life living in dreams, elegance, and stories. That’s all I could think about during my interview with Caroline O’Brien. That, and how grateful I am that my mom used to insist to take me as a child — and our entire family — to the ballet.
Akin to many little girls, my mother also tried to put me into dance classes–I had a lot of energy and I loved to dance. She didn’t take me to a local private dance studio, she took me to one of the best ballet schools in Ukraine. There were hundreds of little girls with their mothers; the girls were all wearing baby pink dance outfits with hair coiffed tightly in a high bun, their facial expressions were way too serious for their age. This was the first time, I recall, being nervous.
There were several stages in the auditioning process, the first one was a flexibility test. The instructor had all the girls sit in a huge circle, putting the soles of their feet together, bringing them as close as possible to the torso and pushing out the knees to the sides. The instructor proceeded to come up to each girl and abruptly, without saying a word, pushing their knees to the floor. My turn came…I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was so mad at him for causing me so much pain. It was there, that I knew my career as a ballerina had ended, before it even begun.
Luckily, this did not kill my adoration for the ballet and appreciation for the ballerina. 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is a beautifully curated exhibit. If you are a fan of behind-the-scenes, dance, design, ballet, or theater–you should go.
Below are a few images from the exhibit, courtesy of Faulhaber PR.