WEEK #6: Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again!  Got the middle-of-the-week blues?  In today’s Coffee Break With the Ballet feature, “Then & Now,” it’s time for the history of the tutu!

Then & Now

Costumes for both men and women have gone through a number of variations since the earliest days of European court dancing before evolving into what we think of today as a typical ballet costume – tutus for women, tights and tunics for men.  Check out these blasts from the past and see what ballet dancers from the past wore onstage.

L to R: Henri III court dancing (1500s); Jeune Dame (1700s); Lancret painting of Marie Camargo, who raised her skirt so audiences could see her feet (late 1700’s)

L to R: Pas de Quatre in Romantic era tutus (1845); Pierina Legnani, Classical era (late 1800s)

L to R: Negri dance instruction book (late 1500’s); Louis XIV (mid-1600’s)

L to R: Male costume for a shepherd (1700’s); Romantic-era male costume, Albrecht and Giselle in Giselle (1841); Classic-era male costume, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake (1895)

 OBT Asks Wardrobe Manager David Ruble:

We’ve talked a lot about tutus, but how have costumes for men evolved from classical to contemporary ballet?”

“Men’s costumes have changed from the realistic and familiar costumes of the classical ballet. Gone are the character-driven tunic and tights of classical men’s ballet. Contemporary men’s costumes are much more streamlined to showcase the choreography and the dancer’s body, and to facilitate freedom of movement and expression. Whereas classical costumes convey the story and character of the ballet, the lack of narrative in contemporary costuming can convey more abstract ideas of physicality, emotion or even psychological states.”

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