When silver threads fly like angels

Words are missing from the Nutcracker Ballet. Or are they? That silence, little kiddies, is precisely where the enchantment begins.

Even though he can tell you the entire plot in 20 minutes or more, I prepare my 6-year-old for his premiere night at BalletMet’s, The Nutcracker, by explaining the absence of words. This puzzles him, because the primary way the details of this story have been fed to him is by word, via books, and books on CD; he reads stories to his own Nutcracker soldiers. We are playing games from the BalletMet website, watching a sneak peak, and I explain to him the long hours of practice, the skill and the commitment of the dancers.

And, I introduce him to the costumes…

(this one is my best shot)

The glittery costumes are just one part of the ballet tapestry that will hold him spellbound.

When I learned that Rebecca Turk, the Costume Shop Manager at BalletMet, was busy re-designing 40 new costumes this year,

I grabbed my camera, took my son’s hand, and we headed to the costume shop to get an up-close look at the details.

Each year, BalletMet works to upgrade at least some portion of the Nutcracker wardrobe.

Last year, the Rat King received a new fur-lined coat — made from what else? Cat fur.

(An inside joke… the Rat King doesn’t REALLY wear cat fur.)

Clever engineering will give the soldiers new room to fly this year. Rebecca has separated the jacket body, from the jacket sleeve – two pieces that appear as one. Now, the arms have the freedom to fly, twirl and jump without the constraints of constricting seams in a traditional jacket.

More than 80 lucky volunteers have the privilege of sewing these jewels

and hundreds of buttons

into each costume.

Hand-stiching is all that is required.

When he leaves the Nutcracker Performance, the night of December 12, my hope is that the costumes themselves will be just one of many layers that will enlighten him with the beauty of what we call art.

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14 comments to “When silver threads fly like angels”
  1. I remember going to see the Nutcracker every year when I was younger. Have you ever seen the “A Very Young …” series of books by Jill Krementz? She had one – A Very Young Dancer – that I think is now out of print but you might be able to find in the library. It revolved around young dancers getting ready for the Nutcracker and the pictures (all photographs) are amazing! It’s a great way to prepare for the ballet.

  2. THAT is a very cool look behind the scenes! My oldest and I go to the Nutcracker every year, and I think my youngest is ready to join us this year – it is such a fun tradition and magical no matter how many times we see it! Have fun!

  3. Oooh, I would totally have loved to sew some of those costumes! There’s a production of The Nutcracker here next weekend…I think I’ll have to take my kids.

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