In our first edition of "Behind the Curtain - Costume Style", Mrs. Williams discusses how she prepares for The Nutcracker and reveals her favorite costume.
1. How far in advance do you start preparing for The Nutcracker?
I actually begin thinking about next year's Nutcracker during this year's production. As I watch the rehearsals and see the dancers in their costumes, I notice what costumes are beginning to look tired and worn. Then I already have an idea what we need for next year. In the summer, I start gearing up for the mad rush toward Nutcracker season.
2. How many costumes do you have in storage?
Oh, my! I’m not sure, but there are hundreds!
A sneak peek into the Central Florida Ballet's costume room...lambs, bon-bons, and soldiers costumes are ready to be tried on new Nutcracker cast members.
3. What is the process of fitting dancers for costumes? (From measurements to the stage..)
During Nutcracker auditions, all the dancers who come to try out are measured. After casting, I try the costumes on each of the dancers and then make alterations as necessary. If a brand new costume is made for someone, then there will be several fittings to make sure the size is correct and the costume is comfortable for dancing. The costumes must be durable and well-made in order for them to withstand all the turning, stretching, lifting, and movement from the dancers. We also want to be able to use the costumes for several years, so it is important that they aren’t flimsy.
4. Do you have a favorite costume?
That’s a hard question because so many of them are gorgeous, but I guess I am partial to the Spanish because they are bold and bright and beautiful.
5. Are you working on revamping or creating any new costumes this year?
Right now I am working on sprucing up the Waltz costumes to make them last a little longer and look a little more colorful on stage.
Mrs. Debby Williams concentrates as she sews and adjusts a tutu for the Waltz of the Flowers dance.
6. What do you think is the most important part of your job?
I see my job as making every single person, from the Treat Carriers to the Sugar Plum Fairy, feel comfortable and confident in their costumes so they can concentrate on dancing and doing a great job on stage. I want all the dancers to be dressed beautifully and appropriately for their particular part, and for each of them to feel like they are important to the production, because they are!
7. Where do you find your fabric and what inspires you when creating new costumes?
I love looking at fabric, and I go out of my way to browse fabric shops whenever I can. I also watch other productions of the Nutcracker or look at pictures on the internet to get ideas. It’s fun to go see other Nutcracker productions and see what their costumes are like.
8. Was there a time when you thought a costume would not be ready or some other mishap that happened right before a show?
Every year I think I am not going to get everything done. The closer it gets to Nutcracker time, the less sleep I get. My friends bring me coffee and then hang out and help me sew, mend, glue, and iron. I definitely could not do it by myself. I am very grateful for the many willing and efficient volunteers who do whatever I ask, and do it with a smile! As far as mishaps, one year during a show, Drosselmeyer’s eye patch broke and I had about 30 seconds to take a few stiches to repair it before he had to rush back on stage. Another year, the zipper broke on a dancer’s Chinese costume and I had to whip-stitch it closed as she quickly dashed off to go on stage. Ultimately, it seems like everything works out, and I try to learn from experience how to make the next year better.
It can't be work all the time! Mrs. Debby Williams chats with friends and the CFB School Director while discussing changes for the Waltz of the Flowers tutus.
Discover which costume you love the most and see them in all their glory when the Central Florida Ballet takes center stage at the Orange County Convention Center on Saturday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec, 23. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.centralfloridaballet.com/.
Be sure to check back soon for an update from Mrs. Williams!