Dean Mogle holds the white and black swan design sketches for CCM's production of Swan Lake.

From Sketch to Stage: The Making of CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’ Costumes

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There is a shortage of tutu makers in the world, said CCM Professor and Head of the Costume Design and Technology Program Dean Mogle, who faced the daunting task of designing costumes for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

CCM is working to fix that shortage by training the next generation of costume designers and technicians, whose work will debut on stage in the conservatory’s first ballet production to have costumes designed and built in-house.

A timeless tale of love, magic and mystery, Swan Lake will grace the Corbett Auditorium stage from April 22-24, marking the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Staff and students within the Costume Design and Technology program have worked on the ‘Swan Lake’ costumes for the past 18 months.

Presented by CCM’s Department of Dance, the ballet uses three different casts and the principal roles are all double cast ­— which is challenging for the costume shop students and staff responsible for ensuring the pieces fit each dancer correctly.

“You have to understand what dancers go through—what they need,” Mogle said. “Balance becomes really important.”

Costume designers and technicians must consider the weight of the fabrics and headpieces so the dancer can retain their natural balance. There is also limited “real estate” on the costume for artistic expression or characterization, Mogle said. If a female dancer needs to be lifted, safety dictates the fabric around her waist can’t be too slick and can’t get caught on anything.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast.”

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Newly designed costumes for the Hungarian Czardas in Act III of ‘Swan Lake,’ made by costume students and staff. To the far right is Prince Siegfried’s jacket, made by Jessica Barksdale.

Mogle, with a team of students and faculty within the Costume Design and Technology program, has worked on the Swan Lake costumes for the past 18 months. They’ve borrowed and modified some costumes from a previous CCM performance of Brigadoon and the Broadway production of Cyrano, The Musical. Costumes for the principal and specialty roles in the ballet are newly designed and made.

Iconic white tutus, bodices, vibrant dresses and rich fabrics have taken over their workshop. The costumes are designed in the traditional style typically associated with the classic ballet. CCM plans to reuse and rent out some of them after the performance.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Jessica Barksdale is building Mogle’s design for Prince Siegfried’s costume, which will be worn in Acts III and IV.

Mogle, who previously designed costumes for the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker, watched five or six different productions of Swan Lake to prepare for his costume designs. The pieces are still evolving on a daily basis, he said.

“Since we are making the production to last about 30 or 40 years, we don’t ever want to get too wild and crazy with the concept because it is pretty traditional,” Mogle said. “The things that really change in a traditional ballet like this are going to be the specialty characters.”

Those include the newly designed and made pieces that will be worn at the ball in Act III, where the Queen invites potential wives from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Naples and Poland to match with her son, Prince Siegfried.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A sketch and sleeve of Von Rothbart’s Act III costume, made by Erin Winslow.

At the ball, Prince Siegfried will wear a newly designed black and gold jacket made by Jessica Barksdale, first-year costume technology graduate student. Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who cursed the prince’s love Odette, will wear an intricately detailed costume made by senior costume technology student, Erin Winslow, as part of her capstone project.

Barskdale and Winslow are also making the iconic white and black swan costumes for leading female characters Odette and Odile. Associate Professor of Costume Technology Regina Truhart is managing all costume production for the ballet.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

The in-progress white and black swan costumes for characters Odette and Odile are being made by Jessica Barksdale and Erin Winslow, respectively.

After 27 years at CCM, Mogle is familiar with the 30,000 costume pieces the conservatory has in stock. Luckily, the costume department was able to pull pieces from past performances of Brigadoon and Cyrano to modify them for courtier and peasant costumes in Swan Lake.

The costume department dyed some of the costumes in bright jewel tones and added details such as sashes, sleeves, aprons and hats. Net petticoats were used to make the costumes lighter and easier to dance in.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costumes from the CCM production of ‘Brigadoon’ are being modified for the female peasants in Act I of ‘Swan Lake.’

“Every time we do [Swan Lake], we’ll add more to it and rely less on our costume stock,” Mogle said, adding that when the ballet is performed again in 6 years they will likely build new peasant costumes.

“That’s how some companies do it anyway. They’ll use tutus from many kinds of shows. Pulling together a show like this from all of these different places is a great exercise.”

Acquiring materials is one hurdle but then, of course, the costumes must actually fit.

It helps that musical theatre bodies and dancer bodies are similar in stature, Mogle said. It would cost around $5,000 to reproduce one of the Cyrano costumes today.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costume technicians included three clasp sizes on the ‘Swan Lake’ bodices so they can be adjusted for different dancers.

With three different casts, and double-cast principals, it was important to make the costumes interchangeable for different dancers. The technicians included three clasp sizes for the bodices to make them more adjustable and, in some cases, built extra costumes.

The process and pieces are evolving daily, with more adjustments expected after fittings and the dress rehearsals. A beautiful design can look perfect on a mannequin but flawed when put on a body that needs to breathe, dance and kick. That is why it’s important for the costuming students to learn each step in the creative process, said Mogle.

 “The whole focus of our program is teaching design and technology so designers know how to make stuff and makers know how to design stuff. So they all have the same sensibility as to how things should look and how they should be handled. If the knowledge base in those two roles isn’t strong then things fall apart.”

After the designs are sketched, the appropriate fabrics need to be found, Mogle said of the costuming process. Then there’s making the patterns and cutting them out of the cloth and stitching them together. There’s also fabric painting and dying and mask and jewelry making.

“Each one of those is a profession in itself,” Mogle said. “The more skills you have as a technician and the more kinds of plays and operas and ballets that you can design as a designer, your job market opens up. It’s a good part of training and real life experience.”

Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program. The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

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Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake runs April. 22 – 24 in Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s
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Story by Rebecca Butts

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‘Cincinnati Enquirer’ and ‘News Record’ Preview CCM’s Fall Dance Concert

'The Kingdom of the Shades' photography by Will Brenner.

‘The Kingdom of the Shades’ photography by Will Brenner.

Both the Cincinnati Enquirer and the News Record provide extensive previews of this weekend’s Fall Dance Concert, featuring George Balanchine’s Serenade and other masterworks. Running Nov. 16 and 17, this concert kicks off CCM Dance’s 50th anniversary celebration!

Learn more about the history of Serenade courtesy of David Lyman and the Cincinnati Enquirer here.

Learn more about the rest of the Fall Dance Concert’s program courtesy of Emily Begley and the News Record here.

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Experience CCM’s Department of Dance In Concert This Weekend!

CCMFallDancePoster2013

Celebrate the kick-off of CCM Dance’s 50th anniversary with an exciting program of mixed repertoire on Nov. 16 and 17! This concert showcases George Balanchine’s masterpiece SERENADE, set to music by Tchaikovsky and staged by guest répétiteur and Balanchine authority Joysanne Sidimus.

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CCM Dance Kicks-Off Anniversary Season with Fall Dance Concert Nov. 16 and 17

Photograph from 'Serenade' by Rene Micheo. Choreography by George Balanchine, copyright The George Balanchine Trust.

Photograph from ‘Serenade’ by Rene Micheo. Choreography by George Balanchine, copyright The George Balanchine Trust.

CCM’s Department of Dance opens its 50th Anniversary Season with a demanding and impressive Fall Dance Concert on Saturday, Nov. 16, and Sunday, Nov. 17, in Corbett Auditorium. Department Chair and Professor of Dance Jiang Qi directs. As part of the department’s yearlong anniversary celebration, CCM Dance welcomes honored guests from Cincinnati Ballet for a special performance on Sunday.

The concert features George Balanchine’s ballet Serenade, restaged by guest répétituer and pre-eminent Balanchine scholar Joysanne Sidimus. Sidimus studied under Balanchine at the School of American Ballet and later joined him as a dancer at the New York City Ballet. This is the first ballet that Balanchine choreographed in the United States and is considered to be a masterpiece of 20th century choreography.

CCM seniors Ellyn McCarthy, Christine Humbach, Olivia Lafrenz, Kelly Korfhage and Martin Roosaare, as well as junior dance major Trevor Misplay and exchange student Haojun Xie from the Beijing Dance Academy, will be featured in Serenade. It is a wonderfully energetic piece set to Tchaikovsky’s composition of the same name: Serenade for String Orchestra in C Major, Op. 48. The audience will be delighted by the extensive corps work and enchanted by the poise and mastery of the dancers.

CCM News

CCM Fall 2013 Calendar of Major Events – October, November and December Updates

Please note the following corrections and updates to CCM’s schedule of major events for the fall:

  • CCM’s Verdi Intensive Conducting Workshop will present a FREE exhibition concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, in Corbett Auditorium. The performance will feature selections from Verdi’s La Traviata and Don Carlos in a concert setting. Maestro Mark Gibson and 12 aspiring conductors from all corners of the United States will lead CCM’s Philharmonia and Concert Orchestras during this unique performance. Featuring Christopher Bozeka, tenor; Summer Hassan, soprano; Joseph Lattanzi, baritone; and Xi Wang, soprano.
  • Michael Fiday’s Oct. 12 Faculty Artist Recital has been rescheduled for Jan. 29, 2014.
  • The CCM Philharmonia‘s celebration of Richard Wagner‘s bicentenary on Saturday, Oct. 12, will feature footage from the 1983 film Wagner, which includes some imagery intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • The 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, screening of Tony Palmer’s film Wagner in UC’s MainStreet Cinema has been cancelled.
  • In honor of the 50th anniversaries of both Cincinnati Ballet and CCM Dance, the 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, performance of the Fall Dance Concert will now feature a special appearance by dancers from Cincinnati Ballet! They will present excerpts from Val Caniparoli’s Caprice and from Cincinnati Ballet’s annual favorite The Nutcracker, along with excerpts from the company’s upcoming world premiere of the ballet King Arthur’s Camelot.
  • Due to overwhelming demand, CCM has added a 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, matinee performance to this years Feast of Carols holiday concert. CCM’s fabulous choirs and outstanding guest choirs will now perform at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on both Dec. 7 and Dec. 8.
You can always find the most up-to-date information on CCM’s calendar of events at ccm.uc.edu. Define your inspiration at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music.
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