Virtual Museum

Virtual Museum

Behind the Scenes: Set and Costume Designers for The National Ballet of Canada

Introduction

For any ballet production, the sets and costumes contribute immensely to the narrative, mood, and style of a performance. Costumes help to develop characters and embellish the dancers’ movements. Sets suggest when and where the ballet takes place and establish a tone for the story to come. Yet the set and costume designers themselves are rarely in the spotlight – their work takes place entirely behind the scenes.

To create a ballet, a strong collaborative relationship between choreographer and designer is essential. The two work together to come up with a vision and the designer helps to complete the picture onstage with sets and costumes according to that vision. Because a designer must be able to understand and create a choreographer’s dream, the choreographer must find a designer whom he or she can trust. When a partnership is successful, choreographers and designers often continue to collaborate throughout their careers.

And just as all choreographers demonstrate distinct styles in their creations, each designer has a unique and individual approach to creating sets and costumes for a ballet. This exhibit shines a spotlight on the range of extraordinary work from several designers who have developed sets and costumes for The National Ballet of Canada. From our first opening night in 1951 to the performances that audiences see today, The National Ballet of Canada engages designers who create scenes filled with magic and stories that leap from the stage.

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella

Don Quixote

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella

Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.