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Running Wardrobe

Lili has been working for Birmingham Royal Ballet for over 30 years. She came to Birmingham when the touring ballet company Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet was relocated from London to Birmingham in 1990, having worked at the Royal Opera House since 1969.

Head of Running Wardrobe is an unbelievably huge role at Birmingham Royal Ballet when you consider the wide and varied repertory BRB performs.
Not only is the volume of costumes huge, but the logistics of taking the costumes on tour and maintaining them means that the role is challenging, demanding and requires around six full-time costume department members to assist with the task! For a full season of a large-scale production such as The Nutcracker, an additional wardrobe member assists the full time wardrobe team.

Running wardrobe is responsible for the costumes for all of the ballets performed in the current BRB repertory. These costumes come out of the Birmingham BRB stores if BRB owns the costumes, maybe hired as part of a new-to-BRB production such as The Firebird, or are created on and off site if it is a new ballet. In addition running wardrobe has to organise costumes for marketing and press photo shoots, extra performances outside of the repertory (such as the annual Birmingham ArtsFest performances) and any guest appearances.

Costume process for a new production
• For a new production a designer will be appointed and in consultation with the choreographer will produce costume designs for approval.
• The designs will then be distributed through a costume supervisor to the costume makers. They will create the costume patterns and the prototype which will be fitted onto the dancers and the designer / choreographer will decide on any alterations needed. The dancer will also provide feedback on whether the costume is secure enough yet will still allow flexibility for dance movement.
• Once a design has been agreed, costumes must be made for each dancer taking on a role – that could be as many as 220 costumes for a production of The Nutcracker.

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Lili Sobieralska

Lili at work

A costume design from Cyrano for the character of Roxanne

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