Houston Ballet’s veteran wardrobe manager Laura Lynch collaborated closely with two of three choreographers featured on Houston Ballet’s The Rite of Spring mixed repertory program March 7 – 17 to help them realize their visions for the costumes for their works.
Dancers: Karina Gonzalez and Simon Ballet; Photo: Amitava Sarkar
For Edwaard Liang’s ballet Murmuration, Ms. Lynch served as costume designer, along with Mr. Liang. For Stanton Welch’s world premiere of The Rite of Spring, Ms. Lynch realized the costume designs conceived by Mr. Welch.
Here is her journal of how she worked with the choreographers to realize their different visions.
CHOREOGRAPHER EDWAARD LIANG’S MURMURATION
Guest Writer: Laura Lynch, Houston Ballet Wardrobe Manager
Edwaard Liang and I met via email. We then had a couple of phone conversations. He sent me a video of “murmuration.” (a phenomenon in Europe where starling birds flock together and make beautiful shapes and patterns in the sky), filmed in the wild. We discussed the simplicity he wanted in the design.
Edwaard was concrete in his decision that all women would have one look and that all men would have one look. The shop then took direction and created mock-ups for Liang to look at his first day here. Edwaard is a true collaborator. He thrives on hearing others’ opinions as well as seeking guidance when he is stuck.
Although he knew he wanted the ladies in a leotard, he wasn’t sure about the drape he wanted to soften the look with. After looking at the first round of mock-ups, we determined that a flat tab of fabric would better serve the simplicity he was looking for.
Dancers: Christopher Coomer and Karina Gonzalez; Photo: Amitava Sarkar
The leotard color also changed as we discussed the color of the birds. Black leotards became gray leotardss and the chiffon tabs were shortened and the hem angled. We also decided to hombre (gradation of color) the chiffon tabs to better show the body. For the men, a simple pair of pants. The decision together came in the discussion of using different fabrics to achieve the gray color for the women’s leotards. The decision was made to layer black mesh over white lycra.
The next decision was to determine the best width for the legs. A mock-up went into rehearsal so Liang could see the garment move. Changes were communicated and we were ready to purchase show fabrics and begin the build.
CHOREOGRAPHER STANTON WELCH’S THE RITE OF SPRING
Stanton created a design book with research pictures and information sketches of members of indigenous tribes charting what each character track would wear.
Dancers: Artists of Houston Ballet; Photo: Amitava Sarkar
Stanton presents his ideas, and then I ask questions to clarify.
We shopped fabrics and trims together early in the process because we had an upcoming season brochure photo shoot. I have the shop go straight to fashion fabrics when we have a definitive decision about the costume. We knew we’d use circle skirts and loin cloths – so those go right into production.
I draped all the North and South tribal women’s bras using the discussions with Stanton as my guide. Costume shop supervisor Sara Seavey draped the tribal men’s loin cloths, and incorporated the shop to assist. The tattoo mesh work was done by Monica Guerra using the research and discussion from Stanton.
Dancers: Nozomi Iijima and Artists of Houston Ballet; Photo: Amitava Sarkar
The shop follows direction from both Stanton and me as we construct all the other costumes and details. Amanda Mitchell and crew created all the wigs. All North and South tribal women have wigs, the “religious” have wigs, and everyone has some type of make-up. The tattoos are mostly created by painted mesh costumes.
Stanton Welch’s The Rite of Spring and Edwaard Liang’s Murmuration continue in performance with the company premiere of Mark Morris’s Pacific through Sunday, March 17 at Wortham Theater Center. www.houstonballet.org.