Jo Shilton describes working in the Wardrobe Department of Birmingham Royal Ballet as 'in the blood' - her father worked for The Kirov, Bolshoi Ballet and Rambert, as Master Carpenter and later Stage Manager, and his partner is an ex-Rambert Ballerina and Wardrobe Mistress who taught Jo her sewing skills.
Jo, who joined the Company in 2000, has previously described Swan Lake as her favourite ballet, explaining: 'It's a great one to watch, and the end results are definitely the most satisfying as a member of the wardrobe team.'
'I've got two favourite bits,' she reveals. 'The first is when the Black Swan comes on because I love her even though she's evil, because her costume is just amazing. Everyone working backstage comes to the wings to see her do her 32 fouettés, to see if she stays on the spot and actually makes it, and that's just amazing because you just get a massive buzz.
'Then during the interval out of Act III and into Act IV I like to watch the electric team fill the stage with dry ice. All the swans are there and just before the curtain goes up they all duck under the dry ice and it looks like there's nobody on stage. The curtain goes up and then suddenly they rise out of the smoke and it looks amazing. The audience always loves it.'
While Jo names Swan Lake as the most enjoyable to watch, it is also the second hardest to work on (the sheer number of quick changes give The Sleeping Beauty the top spot).
There are approximately 160 costumes on 30 rails, with the majority being for the female dancers. Each Principal has a white swan tutu and a black swan tutu for the dual role of Odette and Odile (the heroine and her wicked impersonator). These are especially made for each dancer, but in some cases, such as when a guest artist is performing the role, this is not financially viable.
'We have a rail of 'dead' costumes', explains Jo. 'These are existing costumes that aren't currently assigned to anyone. Sometimes the original dancer has just left, and we can't fit anyone else into the costume. These ones are still kept so we can make use of parts of them where possible, like the top skirts or the bodice, or just bits of elastic. 'In the case of guest artists, where we'd obviously not have a whole new costume especially made to fit, we'd go through the dead rails. If there's nothing there then we'll try other costumes that are still in use.'