One major project being worked on right now is OBT's first-
ever tutu build for our upcoming prodution of Raymoda. Two designers and consultants from Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle are working with the OBT department, but this is the first time OBT has ever built a significant number of tutus in its own shop. Fitting and construction of the basic underlayers began a couple of months ago and has now progressed to the stage where they're actually recognizable as tutus.
Here is a photo of a tutu BEFORE it's recognizable. The skirt has many layers and this one has not been patched together yet:
Here, Kathy is holding a tutu that's been pieced together. These are being built "Russian style", which means that the tops (the bodices) will be attached to the tutu skirt. This is a tutu before it's been built to the bodice:
The two designers from Seattle were down last week to do some fittings and check on the progress so far. Kathy said it went very well and there were only a few minor tweaks to make. The basic underlayers of the tutu are crucial-- if that doesn't fit the dancer perfectly, the tutu itself will never sit quite right and the costume will need endless "band-aid" fixes to make it workable. Our first several fittings (back in January and February) were for what looked like a basic pair of underwear, which is the very first element in building an elaborate and gorgeous tutu. The underwear has to fit absolutely just right in every way-- the length, placement of the waistband, size of the leg openings, and overall "Hugginess". Then layers of ruffles are added, which are not just decor. They're really the very first layers of tutu, which the audience may hardly see but will make the tutu on top sit correctly. (I've often felt like a fuzzy duck with all my rear end feathers under that tutu).
Kathy also said that they're figuring out that "There is no substitute for actually putting the tutu on the dancer it is being made for. Putting it on the dress form gives you an idea of how it is sitting, but only on the actual dancer can you see how the skirt is going to sit. The stack of finished tutus on top of the tutu drums is turning into "Mount Tutu". We now have 5 skirts completely finished and ready for decorating with the others all in progress. All of the dancers seem very excited about this process and seem to be looking forward to the new tutus."
Here's "Mount Tutu":