Friday, 26 July 2013

A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev - English National Ballet

My cousin is over from France for a few weeks, and as she is also a fan of art and dance, I have been excitedly sharing with her all the wonderful cultural sources we are so lucky to have here in London. Yesterday, we started with a visit around the National Portrait Gallery, before heading just across the street to the London Coliseum, home to the English National Opera. We watched the matinĂ©e performance of 'A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev', which was both beautiful and informative.

The show, danced by the English National Ballet, is made up of a short film followed by three different performances, each with strong links to the celebrated dancer and choreographer, Nureyev. The opening video served as a very useful introduction to Nureyev's life and work, explaining his style and influences. For someone like me who is a fan of ballet, but doesn't necessarily have much knowledge of dancers or the specific history of international companies, it was very helpful to be given a little contextual information before seeing the dances performed.

First to be performed was 'Petrushka', a piece Nureyev danced many times throughout his career. It was particularly interesting for me to see a ballet originally produced by the Ballets Russes, with designs by Alexandre Benois, as I have learnt a lot recently about their style in both dance and design - especially by studying the Ballets Russes costume collection at the Camberwell Archive. To see what I have previously only seen in black and white photographs come to life in front of me was thrilling.

The set and costumes were playful and striking, featuring plenty of traditional Russian folk design - in costume embellishment and colour - alongside the bold shapes of fur-lined 19th Century crinoline gowns. The costumes and set were supplied by the Birmingham Royal Ballet (production photos from their performance).

Original design by Alexandre Benois
The second ballet in the set was the French 'Song of a Wayfarer' by Maurice BĂ©jart. This piece, for just two male dancers, was much more contemporary. Although plain in its design, the simplicity of body suits in blue and red allowed to emotion in the choreography to flow through and capture the audience.

Piotr Stanczyk and Aleksandar Antonijevic in Canada National Ballet's 'Song of a Wayfarer' - showing the simple design and more contemporary choreography
Last but not at all least (in fact this was my favourite piece of the three!) was 'Raymonda Act III'. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, the creator of Sleeping Beauty, Nureyev reworked this ballet for the Royal Opera House in 1969. This final act is a celebration of the wedding of Raymonda and the knight Jean de Brienne - and of course the design, by Barry Kay (archive website here) , is suitably sumptuous. The ensemble wear radiant costumes: fluttering tutus sparkle lavishly while other partners twirl around in romantic skirts embellished with gold motifs, echoed on the men's bodices. The set and costumes for this piece were supplied by The Royal Ballet.

Photos of the 2012 Royal Ballet performance by Dave Morgan
'A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev' by the English National Ballet is on at the London Coliseum 25-27th July - more information here.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Tudor Costume is Finished!!!

It feels so unreal typing this, but I can finally say that the Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Forge Museum has been finished and delivered!

I won't be showing it complete on here for a while, so if you want to see everything together, you'll have to head over to the Museum! There you'll be able to see my costume with the amazing wall paintings that inspired it, as well as visiting the beautiful village that is the birth place of the Tudor dynasty. Did you know that Edmund Tudor (also known as Edmund of Hadham), father of the first Tudor king, was born in Much Hadham? While you're in the village you could also visit the Henry Moore museum.

Soon, my costume will go on a tour of the Eastern region, stopping off at various Tudor buildings to spread the word about the wonderful yet little-known wall paintings at the Forge Museum - I'll keep you updated here!

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at the finished costume!

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that inspired this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Friday, 19 July 2013

This week's work on the Tudor Costume

This week I've been finishing off the Tudor Costume for the Much Hadham Forge Museum - it is so rewarding to see everything coming together!

Some photos of this week's work:

(The sleeves, almost finished)
(Stitching the black lace trim onto the kirtle bodice)

(Constructing the neck ruff)
To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Working on the Tudor gown

Here are a few photos of the work I've been doing on the Tudor costume gown - the final layer!!! The costume is really nearly finished, which is incredibly exciting after months of slow progress. I've been working on the sleeves and ruff as well, and those will be ready to show here very soon too!

The gown is a coat-like garment, worn over the kirtle it ties at the front, and looks quite modern with it's folding collar and short puff sleeves. I have made it from a brown polyester fabric that is slightly shiny to give the effect of a more luxurious material.

NOTE: The pattern for the gown bodice is from the "Fitted English Gown" pattern in the book The Tudor Tailor, however the skirt is draped therefore does not follow the pattern from the book.

The gown bodice, which will fit the body quite tightly, made up without the sleeves

Draping the skirt - as suggested in the wall painting, I have used large box pleats to create a voluminous skirt. Although it will have a train, it won't be as long as it is in these photos!

Here is the process of creating these super cute puff sleeves! They are made up from three layers, a boned lining layer, a gathered 'puff' layer and finally six slashes.

If all goes to plan, I will be posting photos of the finished costume very, very soon! Fingers crossed!

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tudor Costume: Fitting the Kirtle

Here are a few photos from last week of the kirtle in progress. The kirtle is the dress that goes over the corset and farthingale, but under the gown.

It is made up of a bodice and skirt. The bodice is made of a rich red silk dupion and like the corset, this layer laces up at the back. The skirt has a gold and white jacquard fabric acting as the forepart (the heavily patterned and decorative front skirt panel popular in Tudor dress) and plain cotton for the back of the skirt, which will not be seen.

As you can see, the roll (see previous post) gives the skirt plenty of volume in contrast to the flat, corseted waist. The farthingale holds the skirt out and keeps it wide and circular at the bottom.

When the kirtle is completed it will have a pointed bodice waistline and black trim as in the wall painting:

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Tudor Costume: Farthingale and Roll

Here are some more photos of the Tudor costume I am creating for the Much Hadham Forge Museum. After the chemise and corset comes the farthingale - a hooped skirt used to create the fashionable cone shaped silhouette of the 16th Century. This shape is known as the 'Spanish Farthingale'.

A farthingale is the Tudor equivalent of the Victorian crinoline. Rather than using numerous heavy and hot petticoats, a hooped skirt is used as a supporting structure for overskirts. Originally, these would have been stiffened with cane or whalebone. I have used the modern equivalent - flexible steel boning, which holds its shape very well but is still lightweight.

The farthingale gives the skirt its conical shape, however there is still little volume at the waistline. In this place, a roll is used. It is a simple crescent shape densely stuffed with, in this case, wadding. In the 1500s, they would have used hair, rags, straw or feathers to make these cushion-like body paddings. It is tied with tapes under the bodies or corset, to ensure that the flat front remains uninterrupted.

NOTE: I used the 'Spanish Farthingale' and 'Medium Roll' patterns from the wonderful book The Tudor Tailor to create these pieces of costume. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in making a Tudor costume of their own!
To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk