Behind the Scenes at the Cincinnati Ballet’s Costume Shop

This underground studio has been the domain of Wardrobe Mistress Diana Vandergriff-Adams since the Cincinnati Ballet moved into a former brewery in the late 1990s (and she’s been sewing costumes for the likes of the Ballet and the Cincinnati Opera since the early 1970s).

We paid a visit to Vandergriff-Adams and her team (which is actually just comprised of one other staffer, Wardrobe Assistant Laura Hoffman, who also happens to be Vandergriff-Adams’s daughter). They fitted some dancers to costumes for their October 2015 show, Lady of the Camellias, and showed us around their workspace.

Take a look at their tiny tutu kingdom:

The ballet's costume storage space, housed in a former brewery barrel cellar
The ballet’s costume storage space, housed in a former brewery barrel cellar. The lack of natural light might make the place feel like a bunker, but it’s perfect for preserving textiles and squirreling away delicate costumes.

Photograph by Evan Sgouris

A rack of costumes for Lady of the Camellias
A rack of costumes for Lady of the Camellias, on loan from the Boston Ballet
_MG_2694
The original Pinterest board
Tutu storage
Tutu storage

Photographs by Evan Sgouris

Wardrobe assistant Laura Hoffman fits a costume to soloist Maizyalet Velázquez
Wardrobe assistant Laura Hoffman fits a costume to Soloist Maizyalet Velázquez

Photograph by Evan Sgouris

_MG_2871
Velázquez models the nightgown costume from Lady of the Camellias
Photographs by Evan Sgouris
Vandergriff-Adams adjusts Velázquez’s hem

Vandergriff-Adams is committed to costume quality—and dancer safety. “We never use glue for gems,” she says. “They can come off and if a dancer slips on one, that can be the end of a career.” To make sure all costumes materials are safe and secure, she and her staff spend hundreds of hours hand-sewing them.

_MG_2773
Vandergriff-Adams holds up one of her favorite costumes, the “Diamond” from Jewels, a three-act ballet created by famed choreographer George Balanchine.
_MG_2755
A mountain of fabric samples fills out a corner
_MG_2727
Principal Dancer Cervilio Miguel Amador gets fitted for Lady of the Camellias. Male dancers have unique needs for their costumes. Diana Vandergriff-Adams sews gussets into pants to allow maximum movement—which is necessary because male dancers have been known to bust open pant seams on stage.
_MG_2735
Tutus and sewing machines fill every open space

_MG_2875

_MG_2835
Soloist Maizyalet Velázquez checks her costume (and turnout) and gives an impromptu performance.

_MG_2855

Facebook Comments