Sequins, jewels and secrets make "The Nutcracker" costumes magical

Secrets are sewn into The Nutcracker costumes: jewels and silks bought off the streets in Singapore, the Snow King’s sleeves tailored for lifting, gloves sewn in the mice costumes so they can battle the Nutcracker and his soldiers. These are just some of the insights University of North Carolina Dance Costume Shop will tell, but not all secrets can be revealed.

“There needs to be a little Drosselmeyer magic,” says Kathy Grillo, director of the UNCSA Dance Costume Shop.

The Nutcracker ballet is a story about a girl who travels to magical lands. Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives at a Christmas party in the opening scene of The Nutcracker, charms the party attendees with illusions and gives his niece Clara a beautiful nutcracker. Later that night a battle between the Nutcracker and Mouse King ensues and the Nutcracker turns into a Prince and takes Clara to the lands of snow and sweets. Along the way, she meets the Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy, Mother Ginger and bands of Spanish, Arab, Chinese and Russian dancers.

The staff of the UNCSA professional Dance Costume Shop work their magic each year to make the costumes not only sparkle with jewels and sequins, but to move and flow for some of the most athletic moves the dancers need to perform. Part puzzle, part design, part technology – all fit together in building and maintaining theses costumes.

Read More

See more behind the scenes


Accessibility options

Adjust the interface to make it easier to use for different conditions.
This renders the document in high contrast mode.
This renders the document as white on black
This can help those with trouble processing rapid screen movements.
This loads a font easier to read for people with dyslexia.