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Costumes for Birmingham Royal Ballet productions

• Unless the ballet that the Company is going to perform is a brand new one, then the costumes are usually brought in from Birmingham Royal Ballet's own stores. These are vast warehouses filled with everything that the Company needs to put one of its ballets, including the sets, props and costumes. If they have not done the ballet before, the costumes may be borrowed from another Company.

• If the costumes have been delivered from Birmingham Royal Ballet's own stores, they will first be dry cleaned, then fitted onto the dancers. As dancers are all slightly different shapes, alterations will be needed for any who have not already danced the roles, so that the costumes fit perfectly. In the running wardrobe there is a cage full of fabrics and materials from existing productions. These are used to mend or alter any costumes, and also provide the wardrobe with a source or reference if new costumes need to be made.

• Because the Company performs so many different types of ballet, the wardrobe department have material for all sorts of costumes, from heavy golden fabric to thick fur for the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. They even have feathers for the Chickens in La Fille mal gardιe!

• If the costumes have been hired from an outside company, then again all dancers will need to be fitted and any alterations made – once the production is over, any alterations have to be reversed to make sure that the costumes are returned to their owners in the exact same state that they arrived in.

• To assist the wardrobe in how the costumes are to be presented a reference book accompanies the costumes. It contains a highly detailed record of all of the original costume designs and samples of fabric which will assist not only wardrobe team but also the Wig Master and the Shoe Master.

Lili says that the best part of her job is:
'The satisfaction of getting the costumes on stage looking perfect!'

Trick of the trade
'One trick of the trade I have is for keeping tutus fresh. After they have been worn I hang them upside down – this ensures that they remain bouncy and fresh.'

To see a selection of close-up photos of some of the intricate costumes BRB dancers wear in performance, click here.

An existing costume is re-fitted

The furry beast costume

Costumes for Romeo and Juliet

Participants from the Ballet Hoo! project in costume

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