Dans l’Atelier de costumes des Grands Ballets

Dans l’Atelier de costumes des Grands Ballets


My name is Mélanie Ferrero and I head the costume workshop here at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. I’ve been here for 14 years. and I work with a team of about 20 full time staff during Nutcracker season, in particular, with about 6 full-timers here during the rest of the year. We have close to 400 pieces to tend to, and they can take up lots of room. The minimum for just the costume budget, for the Nutcracker, can vary between 160k$-190k$ a year. A restoration project for these costumes can span the course of several years. An example being the Rosebud tableau There two “rosebud” colours—pink and blue— that occur on scene at the same time. But about 15 dancers are on stage for this scene at once, so we organize that these tutus be on rotation. Right now we have about 18 tutus. They go for about $3k – 5k each, depending on the level of craftsmanship invested, so things like beadwork, textile processing, dyes, etc. So if we’re looking at 14-15 tutus, plus a $50k – 60k budget, it brings up to about $3k a piece. One project that was interesting in terms of restoration (and reconceptualization, really) was Harlequin and Colombine. It’s one of Francois Barbeau’s creation that he made exclusively with silk shantung. Of course, silk wears down with dry cleaning and time and it loses its colour… This is one of the most striking pieces on stage, in terms of brightness of color and contrast. Barbeau really highlights it by using this black line to divide the colours but also give them dimension. Here’s our famous “King of Sweets”. This costune has quite the reputation here…. It cost about $15k to make, overall, if you consider the amount of research going in, the structure of the garment, and then the materials…. So in restoring, we took the base of the piece. We’ll be restoring the material especially, all the little snags and tears. So for these, one by one, they’ll all find their way into the hands of our seamstresses, each of whom is very talented, very passionate, but most of all, very patient when it comes to all these restorations!

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