The photo in Steven's earlier post shows the most recent upgrade/renovation/addition to the OBT building--- three rows of (extremely heavy duty) hooks secured onto the wall in the basement hallway, oppostite wardrobe and the women's dressing room. As Steven explained, during rehearsals for a ballet like Swan Lake all the women need to wear practice tutus, which take up a lot of space not only on stage but also everywhere else. Our dressing room at the studio is cozy enough without fifteen or twenty extra puffballs of tulle needing a place to live, so Ed Lyle, our facilities manager, put up those hooks the other day for us to store the practice skirts on. Previously they'd been stuffed on top of lockers, hung from pipes near the ceiling, or piled in the shower room. Yay!
This season also marks the first time there are actually enough practice tutus to go around. Our intrepid wardrobe department took the time this summer to make several new ones and weed out the old ones that were in such a sorry state they were pretty much useless. (One day Kathy Scoggins and I went on a "tutu hunt" in the dressing room to pull out all the old ones from their hiding places. It was like "Where's Waldo" trying to find all of them!) Again, as Steven explained, practice tutus are not the same as actual costumes, but oh the joy of having one that really fits and isn't embarrassing to wear! The old one I'd been using the past few seasons kept falling apart, so I'd been tacking it together myself from time to time with dental floss. (That's what I sew my pointe shoes with and was the only thread I had around... I'm no seamstress).
To echo Steven's comments on the importance of using these practice tutus, I'll just say that the experience is pretty much the same for the women--- without a bodice, of course things feel much different (more breathing room and freedom of arm movement), but just having a saucer around your waist is an unusual feeling to dance with. Turns need some adjustment and the view of your legs is different, so they need some extra attention to detail. The Romantic tutus are fun because you feel, well, romantic and playful, but there is a lot of material getting caught up around your legs as well as extra weight to get used to. Sometimes the actual costume is a little easier to work in for one reason or another, but I usually feel like a completely different animal in it, for better or worse!