TUTU FABULOUS

Ten of our favourite tutus, on stage and up close

Artists of the Australian Ballet in Paquita (2013)The Australian Ballet

The mutable tutu

Nothing is more iconically ballet than pointe shoes ... and tutus. Over the centuries, tutus have dramatically shortened, but on the modern stage we see every variation on the form, from long Romantic gauzes to perky 'pancakes' to ... air-conditioning mesh? Yes. Here's a small curation of some stunners from The Australian Ballet's costume department. 

The TutuThe Australian Ballet

Amy Harris as the Lilac Fairy in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty (2015)The Australian Ballet

The Lilac Fairy

Gabriela Tylesova's costume for the Lilac Fairy in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty just about steals the whole show. Its intricately layered skirt was inspired by lilac petals and the bodice is hand-painted. Its exuberant skirts are suprisingly light to wear. 

Tutu for the Lilac Fairy in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty (2015) by Gabriela TylesovaThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for the Lilac Fairy in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty (2015) by Gabriela TylesovaThe Australian Ballet

Amber Scott as the Lilac Fairy in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty (2015)The Australian Ballet

Olivia Bell in George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial (2008)The Australian Ballet

Ballet Imperial

George Balanchine's tribute to his Russian imperial past calls for a splendour to match the days of Petipa and Tchaikovsky. Designer Hugh Colman responded with rich blues and golds: the tutu as Fabergé egg. These Ballet Imperial costumes would be right at home in St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre. 

Tutu for George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial (2008) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial (2008) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Kirsty Martin as Clara in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker - The Story of Clara (2000)The Australian Ballet

Nutcracker - The Story of Clara

Another tribute to the Imperial Theatres. In Graeme Murphy's reimagined Nutcracker, Clara is a prima ballerina, and the highlight of her career is dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy before the Tsar. This spectacular confection of burnished golds and ambers, by Kristian Fredrikson, is her costume for that performance. 

Costume for the Sugarplum Fairy in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker - The Story of Clara (1992) by Gabriela TylesovaThe Australian Ballet

Detail of costume for the Sugarplum Fairy in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker - The Story of Clara (1992) by Kristian FredriksonThe Australian Ballet

Justine Summers in a publicity shoot for Stanton Welch's DivergenceThe Australian Ballet

Divergence

Vanessa Leyonhjelm's industrial tutu for Stanton Welch's Divergence became a 1990s ballet icon: part Elizabethan ruff, part futuristic club wear. The tutu's super-flexible skirt is made from air-conditioning mesh. At the finale of the ballet, the dancers rushed to the back of the stage, pulled the skirts over their hips, tossed them aside and ran back to finish the piece in their tights.

Costume for Stanton Welch's Divergence (1994) by Vanessa LeyonhjelmThe Australian Ballet

Detail of costume for Stanton Welch's Divergence (1994) by Vanessa LeyonhjelmThe Australian Ballet

Lana Jones as Dulcinea in Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote (2013)The Australian Ballet

Dulcinea

What sort of tutu does a vision wear? This. Barry Kay's costume for Dulcinea in Don Quixote is a luscious candy pink, sewn with myriad brilliants to give an unearthly shimmer. In the mind of the troubled Don, Dulcinea is his dream ideal, an air-castle princess forever leading him on. In Kay's tutu, she looks the part.

Costume for Dulcinea in Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote (1970) by Barry KayThe Australian Ballet

Detail of costume for Dulcinea in Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote (1970) by Barry KayThe Australian Ballet

Artists of The Australian Ballet in the 'Dance of the Hours' from Peggy van Praagh's Coppélia (2016)The Australian Ballet

Dance of the Hours

This tranquil, lovely moment in Coppélia, where the Hours represent the still of the night, brought forth one of Kristian Frederikson's most fanciful creations. The Hours' tutus swim with turquoise clouds, a moon and stars, and the effect of them together is like a clear summer dusk.

Costume for an Hour in Peggy van Praagh's Coppélia (1979) by Kristian FredriksonThe Australian Ballet

Detail of costume for an Hour in Peggy van Praagh's Coppélia (1979) by Kristian FredriksonThe Australian Ballet

Costume for an Hour in Peggy van Praagh's Coppélia (1979) by Kristian FredriksonThe Australian Ballet

Ako Kondo in Paquita (2013)The Australian Ballet

Theme and Variations 

The tutus so nice, we used them twice. Hugh Colman originally created these tutus for George Balanchine's Theme and Variations. We've also recently used them in productions of Paquita. With all of this gilt-edged glory (pale gold for the soloists, a deeper copper-gold for the corps), who could resist? The curlicues edging the skirts are a Colman signature. 

Tutu for George Balanchine's Themes and Variations (corps de ballet) (2007) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for George Balanchine's Themes and Variations (corps de ballet) (2007) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for George Balanchine's Themes and Variations (corps de ballet) (2007) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Artists of the Australian Ballet in Paquita (2013)The Australian Ballet

Leanne Stojmenov as Cinderella in a publicity shoot for PaquitaThe Australian Ballet

Paquita

Hugh Colman's original designs for Paquita have a charm (and a Spanish flavour) all their own. This is the tutu for pas de trois dancers, but its frothing layers of lace and cunning ribboned bodice render it worthy of the brightest limelight. 

Tutu for Paquita (1988) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for Paquita (1988) by Hugh ColmanThe Australian Ballet

Artists of The Australian Ballet in Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella (2013)The Australian Ballet

Earth 

In Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella, created for The Australian Ballet in 2013, the heroine is whisked to the ball not by a mundane coach, but by the sun, moon and planets. Designer Jérôme Kaplan let his imagination soar in creating a suite of costumes for the celestial beings. Is Earth's puffball of tulle a tutu? We'll leave the purists to argue while we admire its deep green layers. 

Costume for Earth in Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella (2013) by Jérôme KaplanThe Australian Ballet

Detail of costume for Earth in Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella (2013) by Jérôme KaplanThe Australian Ballet

Artists of The Australian Ballet in George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial (1967)The Australian Ballet

Ballet Imperial

A very different take on Balanchine's Ballet Imperial, this one from 1967. Designer Kenneth Rowell had a ball with these tutus, which blend the opulence of Tsarist Russia with a touch of circus fun. This image was taken from side of stage by the renowned filmmaker and photographer Paul Cox. 

Tutu for George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial (soloist) (1967) by Kenneth RowellThe Australian Ballet

Detail of tutu for George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial, 1967 (1967) by Kenneth RowellThe Australian Ballet

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