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su-lian

Tutus

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This might be a silly question, but what do you think tutus should be like today? What I mean is that I've been looking quite closely at the tutus while watching Swan Lake by the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin in the Bart version, and if I am not mistaken, their tutus are made in one piece, and the top ("bustier" in french) seems to be quite light, thin, a bit like a decorated leotard (no offense meant, they look nice). The thing is, I'm more used to see the tutus like at the Paris Opera Ballet which are still made in two pieces and the bustier still has a corset (at least I think, forgive me if I'm wrong) and looks quite thick, heavy and stiffer. The bottom part also looks heavier. Both look very nice, and from a distance, one can't really see the difference, but I think I prefer the heavier ones, they have a certain weight and seem to give more presence (I think I'm probably just being fussy here) although they are more difficult to wear for the dancers, and I am aware of it. So, do you think tutus should be traditional but difficult to wear for the dancers, or should ballet evolve, allow more freedom to the dancers and make them wear lighter tutus?

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Not silly at all.

It would depend on the ballet. For the 19th century classics and ballets made in their image ("Symphony in C," "Theme & Variations,"), I definitely prefer the sturdier, traditional costumes. However, in ballets like "Fanfare," (and the "Mistake Waltz" in "The Concert") Robbins has the women dressed in leotard-like tops with tutus. It's a more contemporary look for a more contemporary style, and it works perfectly for what it is.

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Thank you for your opinion! At least now I can more or less see what some other people expect, which is nice!

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Interesting question -- I hope Juliet sees this, as she makes tutus and has sewn many dancers into them! I think most people would say that costumes today should be lighter, and older designs adapted to allow as much flexibility as possible. But then we get into the "how high should they be allowed to kick?" discussions, too. Some ellements of technique were tied to costuming.

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Actually, I had always learned that the whole point of the two-piece construction was to allow for more flexibility--you can't very well do arabesque in what is essentially a stiff leotard. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that is how regular dresses were made in the 18th/19th centuries as well, with the skirt separate from the bodice. There are also those tutus often used for Le Corsaire that are clearly a modern invention: they are traditional tutus that expose the midriff.

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Originally posted by Hans

There are also those tutus often used for Le Corsaire that are clearly a modern invention:  they are traditional tutus that expose the midriff.

Some of us don't like the way those Corsaire- and Bayadere-style, bra-top costumes make so many horizontal cuts across the body's length. They chop the dancer's line.:)

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Hi again--snowed in in NYC......

It's really a matter of the ballet and the costume designer.

Hans is correct, in a separate tutu bodice which is attached to the basque of the skirt, the dancer often has more flexibility. Many costumes are made this way--even if they look like just a fitted bodice and a skirt, they are generally two pieces.

The one piece bodice can be fairly structured, too...the tutu is made with a basque of net or twill or something light and very sturdy, but the bodice is joined to the skirt at the hipline (thus, the one-piece look, as the basque is not seen, but anchors the costume at the dancer's waist under the bodice.)

Now, there are leotards with skirts attached (Serenade, for example, or Tchaikovsky Suite #3 for NYCB), but these are not just whacked on there, they are still fitted to the dancers.

I think the nature of a piece largely dictates the costumes (for me at least). I would not to see Raymonda in a plainer tutu--the fabric and structure are important to the whole "feel" of the piece. Contrary to popular opinion, properly fitted and constructed tutus are NOT uncomfortable. If the panties are cut properly, one can do a full range of movement and they will not ride up.

Hope this is useful.....

Juliet

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Thank you very much for all this everyone.

About tutus being uncomfortable, I have heard Paris Opera dancers saying that with Nureyev, the tutus were much heavier and they had to get used to it and their hips really pained at the beginning, so this is why I said they were. It is true that it is one particular type (I suppose), so you are probably right saying they are not uncomfortable. Also, I didn't mean to say the tutus I saw in Swan Lake by Bart in Berlin were decorated leotards with a basque(is it correct? I mean the skirt part) it was just a way to describe how much lighter they seemed compared to the ones in Paris.

Anyway, thank you for giving your opinions.

Su-lian.

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I cannot imagine any Nureyev staging of an opera like Sleeping Beauty or Bayadere with *plain* costumes...I just cannot, cannot imagine it....whew!

These, I have to say, are completely baroque (which is what he and his frequent collaborator, Nicholas Georgiadis, were aiming for....)

A lot of tutus with the bigger skirt take some getting used to--the reconstruction of Kirov's Sleeping Beauty is another example....although the ornamentation on these is not a patch on those aforementioned Georgiadis Sleeping Beauty togs.....

The Berlin Swan Lake may have been one-piece bodices, which look like a leotard, as compared to a two piece. I don't have my video of this at hand to check. although I recall the production overall. Swans are not supposed to have weighty tutus, so this is another difference, if I may be forgiven for pointing out the obvious.;)

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A friend of mine danced in Canada's Beauty, complained of the costumes' excessive weight, noting that those of a later Nureyev staging of same on another company where SHE had a friend, looked identical and weighed a fraction of the originals.

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Those (much shorter) 19th century dancers must have been strong! Dancing in corsets AND heavy tutus. Not to mention their jewels...... (and in the Renaissance, where ballet steps began, the clothes could weigh as much as 50 pounds).

What I love about the Paris Opera Bayadere tutus is the way they flop and bounce as the dancers dance.

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Thank you once more for all this everybody. I really like the Nureyev style tutus. Juliet, I suppose you wouldn't like to see it, but the swans at the Paris Opera do have quite heavy tutus (this is also partly why I asked the question since it really struck that they were different)!

Su-lian.

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Now that's really interesting!!

I am wondering why swans would have heavy tutus....I know they are not delicate, ethereal creatures, but grace and air also play in the usual design conception of the avian world...

Are they feathered heavily (one thinks of those unfortunate feather knickers from AMP Swan Lake...although I really liked the basic idea and it is just the haunchy-ness of them that I find ugly...looks like the leg on the Thanksgiving turkey....or Jemima Puddleduck's consort from Ashton's Tales of Beatrix Potter.....) Now, THOSE are costumes!!!!!

But, everything is a beauteous thing to someone.

(The image of the Hostess Cupcake tutus from SFB's Paquita spring unerringly to mind.....)

Sorry to get off track.....

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I find many times the "two piece" tutus where the bodice and the skirt are not sewn together have a tendancy for the bodice "V' to curl up after a few uses, and it can be distracting when watching the dancer. Sometimes this is very apparant in photos as well. I think the some tacking down in front, even if the two pieces are not sewn together circumfirentially helps the line of the tutu but still allows for some flexibility.

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Yes, of course you are correct--I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that the bodice and basque are separated...

Usually they are joined in a variety of ways, depending on the maker and the dancer's particular requirements. Some are whip-stitched together all the way around, some are joined by elastics inside, and then swing-tacked., others tacked at the front, sides and mid-back...

I *really* hate when a front bottom point on a bodice has not been properly tacked and is jutting out right there to catch your eye in a photo (I know, some of us look at feet, I look at costumes!!);)

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For a precise description, I'll try to do my best, but if you go to www.imagidanse.com, on the first page, where you choose your language, there's a photo of Elisabeth Platel in one of those tutus. They are quite large (but it doesn't really show on that photo), and a bit curved towards the floor (I mean not flat and completely horizontal) because of the weight and it shows particularly on a photo of the corps de ballet I have (I'll see if I can find it or a similar somewhere on the web). They have about 12 layers of "tulle" (I don't know what it's called in English), but I think, i'm not sure though, that each layer is already double. They don't have any feathers on them, just plastic ones.

Su-lian.

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nlkflint --- you mentioned the bodice "curling up" after a few wearings: did the bodices not have boning? That would solve the problem of the curling as well as support the dancer.

We have recently tried sewing bodices out of lycra, and have found a happy medium between the "stiff" and the leotard look. The lycra helps with having the costume fit a variety of dancers, without going through lots of alterations.

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That seems interesting! I would like to see the result! How did you manage to make the lycra not look too much like a leotard? Something in between "stiff" and "leotard look" would seem good in my opinion, especially if it's easy to wear and can fit different dancers.

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Hi! that's an interesting question su-lian, definitely not silly. i'm from the philippines and in here, we have those two types of tutus. i haven't tried wearing the one-piece tutus though that look like leotards. Since i have danced internationally in australia, i must say that costume-making is less expensive here in the philippines than anywhere in the world. one reason could be that we have the materials needed. so since the stiffer tutus look better on stage, we still choose to make them instead of the softer ones. i think this is another aspect that costume-designers should look into. it is not only because one-piece tutus break the dancers' lines but also because economically, they're less pricey. i think that's to our advantage! makes you want to have your costumes made here huh? but then again, there's freight-out costs if you order from me! haha!

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su-lian

about our lycra bodices: There were two factors in how we acheived an un-leotard look.

First of all, we used a traditional bodice pattern (pointed front) and basque, as well as all the piping around the top and bottom of the bodice and all the other details.

Second, we found a lace lycra the exact color of the regular lycra fabric, and layered them. Lucky us!:) :) :)

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One of the reasons that the Philippines and many other Asian nations have low prices for clothing is that the taxes on fabric or import duties are very low or nonexistent. I still have a beautiful barong I wear for very dressy August occasions! And I was in the RP nearly 30 years ago!

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