Behind the Scenes: Dressing Up

Behind the Scenes: Dressing Up

If it’s true that “clothes make the man,” do costumes make the performance?

Not to take anything away from the spectacular scenery and, of course, the amazing local and professional dancers in the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia’s shows, but… those costumes!

Behind the taffeta and velvet, bows and braiding are a small, dedicated team of board members and volunteers with mad skills. Throughout the year, they manage the more-than 125 high-value costumes gracing the stage in six performances (including one for area students).

What does it mean to “manage” these? Current costumes are kept in a large room at the Jean Evans Weaver Center for Dance, along with older costumes no longer in circulation. Here, the team hangs them appropriately (tutus require special storage to maintain their shape, for example), checks them regularly and, when needed, fixes them up.

It’s also where the magic happens when costumes are ready for a new look. Headpieces for the snow scene were re-imagined based on the Artistic Director’s design, and dazzle with hand-sewn Swarovski crystals (now worth 3x the original setting). And the Marzipan dancers received a sunny new look for 2023, thanks to the costume mistress.

Sometimes, despite all the care taken, stuff happens. A recent minor flood in the room soaked some fabric bolts – which were taken home by one of the unsung heroes of the costume room, washed and dried to be ready for the next update.

When it’s showtime, additional volunteers help load all of these costumes into moving vans, unload them at The Grand, and then reload after the last performance to retire them to the Weaver Center until next year.

Since the costumes are re-used, dancers have to take special care when wearing them, to help preserve and extend the life of the garment. In the Nutcracker’s early years, many costumes were rented or borrowed, so the inventory built up over more than three decades represents a treasure trove for the organization.

Have you seen these costumes in action? Now you have a better appreciation for what happens behind the scenes!