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Website: Evolution of Tutu Construction Through the Years?

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Does anyone know a good web resource for how tutu construction has changed through the ages? I'm looking specifically for info about tutu construction through the last 100 years. How has it changed? Boning, for example. What was used before the flexible pieces that are inserted as boning today? I assume bone really was used at one time. When? And thickness of netting: I know it varies depending on the type of ballet and I know the difference between romantic tutus (ala Les Sylphides) and a powder puff tutu, but did it also change through the years and are there differences depending on where (what country) it was made? Can one distinguish a Russian tutu from, say, a French one, etc.?

If anyone can answer these questions, which really are just a jumping off point in my quest, I'd love to hear them. But I really, really :wink: want to see pictures too.


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From my google searching it sounds like this topic is a book waiting to be written. Have you tried looking for web resources/books on costume design as well as ballet? Here are a three possible resources that might lead you to what you are looking for.

Katherine Bromberg's thesis has a chapter -- "A short history of the tutu""

This encyclopedia may give further references that could be useful: International Encyclopedia of Dance: A Project of Dance Perspectives Foundation

Victoria Looseleaf's article in Dance Magazine "The Story of the Tutu"

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It would be interesting to know how dancers have influenced costuming over the years.

In The Divine Virginia: A Biography of Virginia Zucchi by Ivor Guest and there is a wonderful story about how when Zucchi went to Russia she commanded the wardrobe mistress to cut her costume shorter as she was use to the shorter skirts of the Italian fashion at the time. The wardrobe mistress refused...

The issue had to be referred to higher authority, but the answer came back that the length of the skirt was regulated by Imperial control.

Virginia said nothing, but on the evening of her debut she took matters into her own hands and cut her skirts well above her knees. "I will have my skirts short," she insisted. "i will not dance in a costume fit for a grandmother."

Not surprisingly, the shorter length was welcomed by most of the balletomanes, and as time went by Virginia felt emboldened to cut her skirts shorter and shorter until finally the Italian fashion quietly imposed itself. page 83-4

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