Utah Costume Designer Prepares for Final Ballet Production

By PALAK JAYSWAL, The Salt Lake Tribune

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 every little thing 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 informed 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 is going to by no means offer you that complete look until you could have 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 music” 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 circumstances, and even longer throughout 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 stated. “In these massive 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 following step, he stated, is digging into interval analysis, to ensure the costumes match the period of the story. He’s additionally trying to see what motion totally different materials will present.

“The material has to talk to me,” Heuvel stated, fastidiously. “I have to know the load and the look and the feel.”

Heuvel stated that he has at all times loved seeing how totally different materials — akin to 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 need,” he stated. “So there can be an overlay or an underlay or one thing else … to maneuver the character alongside.”

Purchasing for materials has been more durable throughout the pandemic, Heuvel stated. “I couldn’t fly to New York or to L.A. to do in-person purchasing for materials, so every little thing we did was executed on-line,” he stated. Shopping for material grew to become a “two-week course of,” he stated, due to the issue all web shoppers face: Issues don’t look the identical once 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.

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

The costumes for the Smuin work require silks, Heuvel stated. 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 function for Ballet West, and Beckanne Sisk.

Addison stated there have been “numerous adjustments throughout the academy and at Ballet West,” in regard to range.

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

Now, Heuvel stated, “the colour of the legs and the sneakers are sort of pure to their coloring, and a lot 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 one in every 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 means 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, quickly 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, aside from a 10-year stretch in Portland — till his retirement.

It’s not possible, Huevel stated, to select 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 stated he plans to volunteer, and journey when the pandemic permits it. He and his companion will keep in Salt Lake Metropolis. He stated he’ll nonetheless name Ballet West “house.”

“It’s been an extended journey, and it’s additionally been thrilling and it’s been very gratifying,” he stated. “I’ve been very fortunate to do what I do and what I like to do.”

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