Utah costume designer prepares for last ballet manufacturing | Well being and Health


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When a ballet dancer is performing a personality — whether or not a sugar-plum fairy or a dying swan or a star-crossed lover — not the whole lot about that character comes throughout within the dance strikes.

“Generally you may’t make the character fairly clear choreographically,” David Heuvel, longtime costume designer for Ballet West advised The Salt Lake Tribune. “If you need him (or her) to be sinister or evil, you are able to do that to an extent in motion, however it’s going to by no means provide you with that whole look except you’ve got a fancy dress.”

For 31 years, Heuvel has been designing these costumes for Ballet West. He formally retired final August, however due to a delay induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the manufacturing he considers “sort of like my swan tune” runs Feb. 11-19 — a manufacturing of the tragic romance “Romeo & Juliet.”

As Heuvel explains it, creating costumes for a ballet is a prolonged course of — taking six to eight months beneath regular situations, and even longer in the course of the pandemic.

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“You normally begin with the choreographer or whoever is staging the ballet and discover out what their wants are and what they intend it to seem like,” he mentioned. “In these huge classical ballets, like ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Sleeping Magnificence’ and ‘Swan Lake,’ there’s a particular character, and a particular look that the choreographers need for that character.”

The subsequent step, he mentioned, is digging into interval analysis, to verify the costumes match the period of the story. He’s additionally seeking to see what motion completely different materials will present.

“The material has to talk to me,” Heuvel mentioned, fastidiously. “I must know the burden and the look and the feel.”

Heuvel mentioned that he has all the time loved seeing how completely different materials — resembling leather-based and lightweight wools — work collectively.

“I generally tend to combine materials that you just wouldn’t usually use collectively to get the feel that I would like,” he mentioned. “So there could be an overlay or an underlay or one thing else … to maneuver the character alongside.”

Searching for materials has been more durable in the course of the pandemic, Heuvel mentioned. “I couldn’t fly to New York or to L.A. to do in-person searching for materials, so the whole lot we did was executed on-line,” he mentioned. Shopping for cloth turned a “two-week course of,” he mentioned, due to the issue all internet buyers face: Issues don’t look the identical after they arrive as they did on the web site.

Ballet West hasn’t carried out “Romeo & Juliet” for the reason that 2015-16 season — although Adam Sklute, the corporate’s inventive director, factors out that this model, choreographed by Michael Smuin, hasn’t been carried out by Ballet West in additional than 25 years.

For this manufacturing, Heuvel began from scratch; of the 130 to 150 costumes within the present, 80% are model new.

“After we determined to revive it, we determined we’d go along with the brand new design moderately than try to recreate one thing from the ’60′s,” Heuvel mentioned. “It was sort of ranging from the start.”

The costumes for the Smuin work require silks, Heuvel mentioned. The costumes for the 2002 manufacturing — which the corporate offered, then acquired a few of them again — all used velvet. There are also much more costumes within the new manufacturing than the 2002 model.

This manufacturing is groundbreaking for Ballet West — in that one of many three dancers forged as Juliet, Katlyn Addison, is Black, a primary for the corporate. Addison will alternate with two different principal dancers: Jenna Rae Herrera, who’s the primary Latina forged within the position for Ballet West, and Beckanne Sisk.

Addison mentioned there have been “plenty of modifications inside the academy and at Ballet West,” in regard to variety.

A kind of modifications includes costuming. In October 2020, Ballet West started permitting dancers to put on tights and pointe footwear that matched their pores and skin colour. This was a response to a long-standing custom in ballet towards white tights and footwear — significantly with a number of the “ballet blanc” roles of the traditional canon, in such works as “Giselle” and “Swan Lake.”

Now, Heuvel mentioned, “the colour of the legs and the footwear are sort of pure to their coloring, and many of the (ballerinas) have their very own colours now, however they nonetheless will put on a leotard or a panty or no matter to match the costume.”

“Romeo & Juliet” is certainly one of Heuvel’s favourite ballets, partly as a result of it’s one of many first he labored on when he was rising up in South Africa. His grandmother was a milliner, making girls’s hats, and taught Heuvel the fundamentals of designing and trimming.

After highschool, and transient stints within the army and as a banker, he discovered his method again to the artwork world.

He joined a fledgling ballet firm in South Africa, the Performing Arts Council, and labored beneath a fancy dress designer who died throughout a manufacturing of “Sleeping Magnificence.” Heuvel was thrown into the deep finish, briefly appointed to run the costume store and the manufacturing — which featured Margot Fonteyn, the legendary ballerina with the Royal Ballet.

Heuvel remained in South Africa for the subsequent 10 years, earlier than coming to Ballet West in 1979 — the place he labored, apart from a 10-year stretch in Portland — till his retirement.

It’s not possible, Huevel mentioned, to choose a favourite costume over his lengthy profession. He joked that his favorites are “the completed ones.”

Huevel has had a number of triumphs in his profession. In 2017, he oversaw Ballet West’s $3 million redesign of the costumes for the corporate’s signature manufacturing of “The Nutcracker” — a feat that earned him the Governor’s Artist Award from then-Gov. Gary Herbert. In 2014, costumes he created for “Swan Lake” have been rented out to pop star Taylor Swift, and used within the video to her hit “Shake It Off.”

Now that he’s retired, Huevel mentioned he plans to volunteer, and journey when the pandemic permits it. He and his companion will keep in Salt Lake Metropolis. He mentioned he’ll nonetheless name Ballet West “residence.”

“It’s been a protracted journey, and it’s additionally been thrilling and it’s been very gratifying,” he mentioned. “I’ve been very fortunate to do what I do and what I like to do.”

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