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Travel for the Soul'''Travel for the Soul'''
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The Mariinsky Theatre's Costume Departments for the Kirov Opera and Ballet'''The Mariinsky Theatre'sCostume Departments for the Kirov Opera and Ballet'''
  
TRAVEL IS INSPIRING: While I am tolerably certainthat Vadislav Nijinski and Leon Bakst did not absolutely need to go to Greece torespectively choreograph and design the Ancient Greek themed 1911 ballet Afternoon of aFaun, I'm sure it helped. What is more, I expect that they enjoyed it too. And whilethe IRS probably (in it's wisdom) would have frowned upon them trying to deduct it as abusiness expense (had they been modern Americans), it is true that travel is one of thebest methods for any type of artist to get inspiration.
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski17.jpg]]
  
TRAVEL NEEDN'T BE NICE TO WORK:Travel need not be glamorous or expensive or comfortable to be inspiring. It is a recordedfact that Bertolt Brecht wrote most of the rough scripts for his greatest works (MotherCourageThe Good Woman of Schezuan, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle)while staying in refugee camps during W.W.II, fleeing the Nazis by walking/hitching ridesfrom Germany to Manchuria, going through Stalin's USSR. True he wrote the smooth finisheddrafts of these in the comfort of Southern California, but the inspiration, the ideas,they came from a grueling trek across hostile territory in the midst of a war. Travel isgood for an artist if it doesn't kill her.
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This Summer (1997) I went on a trip to Russia to renew sometheatrical contacts I had made previously, and to make some new ones. During this visit Iwas introduced to persons in the Mariinsky Theatre's Costume and Scenic DesignDepartments. I was given a tour of the costume shop, allowed to take photos, and activelyencouraged to post them on the web for your edification and enjoyment. The Mariinskydesign folks were planning to make a web site in future, but presently don't have theresources to do all that they wish in this area, so they were open to somebody puttingsomething about them on the web, to fill in the gap while they build their own site.
  
WHAT ABOUT MONEY?: Aftercarefully explaining that as a costumer you will never make any money to speak of, itsounds I know, perverse of me to suggest you do something as expensive-sounding as travel.However, as Brecht's experience shows, you need not travel to expensive places in style.You may also travel to wretched places in appalling conditions, the mode of travel, anddestination itself, is almost irrelevant. In fact, now that I've had a chance to travel ina wide variety of conditions, I have to say that traveling in style (good hotels, cleanrestaurants, air-conditioned buses, tour-leaders, etc.) while the most desirable mode fora relaxing vacation, is the worst possible mode for the artist. You see, all thatair-conditioning and imported toilet paper and bottled water that comes with fancy hotelsinsulates you from the real world you are trying to see. As Temple Fielding, the travelwriter put it, "As a member of an escorted tour, you don't even have to know theMatterhorn isn't a tuba." Fact is, a Holiday Inn in Helsinki is pretty much the sameas one in Honolulu or in Houston. Ah, but a cheap dorm room in London is as different froman Art Nouveau roach-ridden pension in Paris as is a rented flat in St. Petersburg or amotor-court in Tucson. All of them are more inspiring (if less restful) than a HolidayInn. Not only do you meet far more interesting people (and their clothes), but each placehas an atmosphere that is like an extractable essence of place.
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The Costume and Scenic Shops for the Mariinsky Theatre, arelocated in a number of buildings near the Theatre. They were originally established by theTsar's Government at the Turn of the Century as the shops for production of stage sets andcostumes for all the Imperial theatres (The Mariinsky, The Maly Opera, AKA The MussorskyOpera, and The Alexandrinsky Theatre). Now the shops mainly service The Mariinsky's needs,as well as the needs of The Mariinsky's two resident companies, The Kirov Ballet, and TheKirov Opera when they tour, and/or do a co-production with a foreign company. They alsotake in work during slack periods from other companies, both in Russia and, increasingly,abroad.
  
WHERE DO I GO?: "Where" is not the point.The point is to go and see someplace that is different from where you are. City dwellersare inspired by visits to the country, country folks get charged up from a trip to town.People in New England are blown away at the reds and golds of the canyons of New Mexico,New Mexicans feel the same awe at the same reds and golds in the maple forests of Maine inFall. G.K. Chesterton wrote "What effects men sharply about a foreign nation is notso much finding or not finding familiar things; it is rather not finding them in thefamiliar place." When you go to a new place, you see things, even familiar things,anew. What's more, you see new, unfamiliar things in a direct proportion to how far youtravel out of your usual venue. This need not mean traveling to Tibet (though I'm suregoing to Tibet would be cool too), but can simply be a case of going to an unfamiliarplace in or near your town. No person should dream of traveling abroad before thoroughlyexploring their home base.
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Their work has to be seen to be believed. Since their costumeswill be used for years, if not decades of repertory production, they are built with thesturdiness and quality usual to serious opera and ballet companies the world over. What isunusual is that because the staff is so huge, and the type of garments made are sopredictable ("White" ballets after all are always in white tutus, opera costumesoften are done to designs first rendered before the revolution, or shortly after), theworkers develop specialties that render them truly world-experts in the niche's theyoccupy. For example, stitchers are not generic. There are stitchers who work in men's wearonly, women's wear only, hats only, appliqué work only, soft scenery only, or semi-softsculptural scenery only. Ditto for cutters. Every pair of shoes is also made, by hand, onthe premises of a separate building. The result is that the workers are capable of beingboth fast and accurate in their specialty, and they can produce their costumes flawlesslyfor a price that gets foreign companies to beat a track to their door.
  
TRAVEL GUIDES NOT TOURGUIDES: It is real useful, even if you were born in a town, to get a travel guide to yourhome base. Careful reading will inevitably introduce you to a raft of places that younever heard of. As much as artists color schemes or natural textures are good for designinspiration, so too are the color schemes and textures to be found in urban landscapes.Museums, interesting old buildings and strange and unusual experiences can also be foundin travel books. In San Francisco, where I was born, for example there is a museum of thehistory of Levi's, the oldest Buddhist Temple in the USA, and a place hidden in an obscurecorner of Golden Gate Park where you can feed French bread to a herd of Buffalo. I'd neverheard of any of them till I found them in travel books. Using travel books you can mineyour home turf for information and inspiration and get practice at the art of travelingbefore you go further.
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While I was there they were making plans to start marketingtheir hand-made Pointe shoes abroad under their own label. Apparently they have beenselling their shoes domestically to other companies for years without any label, andsuddenly realized they had a product that could export, thus filling the gaps left fromdried up government subsidies. Expect to see their work in dancewear catalogs in thecoming years, or better still, see it on stage when they tour to your nearest majormetropolitan area.
  
DO TRY THIS AT HOME:To travel further you either need natural self-confidence, or practice in travel skills,preferably both. You need to be able to read a map, your travel books, phone books, and(ultimately) people. The last is most important once you step away from home, because"tourists" are obvious prey for an amazing assortment of undesirables anyplaceyou go. Practicing reading these four things on your home turf is easiest and least likelyto end in a disaster where you inadvertently board the train for Outer Mongolia, or areslipped a mickey in a Mafia nightclub in Moscow. If you screw up at home you are at worstgoing to be late for dinner or get your wallet stolen. Basically, you need to practiceyour travel skills at home till you have the sense of confidence to venture out further,where the difficulties are greater.
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski17.jpg]] This photo showsa small part of the huge room called "The Women's Department" where all of themain cutting and stitching of the women's dresses is done. There are tables and machinesfor about 40 workers all crowded into this room, along with literally hundreds of hangingcostumes in various stages of completion.  
  
LEARNING WITHOUT LANGUAGE: While it is certainlydesirable to know the language of any foreign country you plan to visit, it is, by nomeans necessary. Language ability will help you to make contact with the people of theplaces you are visiting more easily, and will smooth your travel as you go. On the otherhand to say, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, "No man should travel until he has learned thelanguage of the country he visits. Otherwise he voluntarily makes himself a great baby,-so helpless and so ridiculous," is to miss the point. One of the enlightening thingsabout travel is that you can survive being made to be ridiculous; not only that, -it isgood for the soul. Further, from my own experience I've noted that language ability ofteninduces a sense of false confidence that blinds one to learning the far more importantlanguages of customs, body-language, and conventions. I lived alone in St. Petersburg fora year, and though I can still barely spit out amangled sentence in Russian, I quickly learned (a.) How to safely get anywhere in the cityat night by public transport, (b.) how to silently convince ticket takers at theopera that you are a Russian, so you can use the cheaper resident rate tickets, (c.) where to find toilet paper, art supplies, andcorrection fluid in a single department of department stores, (d.) how to differentiatebetween almost identically dressed Mormon missionaries and Russian Mafia guys,and (e.) whyRussian salesclerks seem to ignore foreigners, and what you need to do to get theirattention. Daily I watch Americans with good language skills clumsily trip over the aboveitems. The key to understanding in foreign places is not language, but observation. And,since ''it is your observation skills that you are trying to hone by travel'',language is merely gravy.
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski18.jpg]] At the time this photowas taken (July 1997) they were making in the shops five complete sets of costumes for theNutcracker (note blue snowflake tutus above) to be sent to Japan in preparation forthe Kirov Ballet's tours to the five major cities of Japan. These costumes will be parkedin their respective theatres for the five years the Kirov has contracted to tour each ofthem.
  
Some possible travel photos one might include:
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski15.jpg]] All the edges on all thetulle in all the tutus is cut into pinked scallops by this huge, hand cranked rotatingpinker. I actually own two old Victorian industrial crank pinkers, and have seen others(they are wonderfully handy for certain things) but this is about four times the size I'veyet seen. The crank wheel has about an 8" diameter, and it can zip through the tulleat an amazing rate. This one likely has been doing so since Pavlova was still takinglessons.
  
[[File:RussiaVeday92911_04.jpg]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski16.jpg]] The Mariinsky's shop isfull of handy old equipment like this. They have dress forms of a huge assortment of 19thand 20th century bodice shapes, like this one for an 1890's corseted figure. Because theshops have been in continual use for the last century, they have all the originalequipment, plus succeeding time periods of equipment to satisfy their needs.
  
[[File:TravelRussia92876_17.jpg]]Russia Lots more good photos of my trip to Russia may be found
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski10.jpg]] They also have access totheir storage, which houses costumes from the original productions of a number of designs.This hat, shown here in the appliqué department is from a production of Boris Godunovfirst designed in the 1920's. This worker is laboriously matching specially dyed andpulled swatches of fabric with the 1920's hat to make a new version with identicalmarkings. Interestingly, some of the fabric she is putting on the new hat is taken from aswatch-box from the original production. This particular type of gold organza isn'tproduced any longer, but, conveniently, the Mariinsky has some old pieces. Another swatchwas made by hand painting fabric with a hot pink aniline dye, as the original fabric wasas well. This attention to detail ensures that productions designed by long-dead designersfor long dead singers and dancers still have the exact look that the designer originallyapproved.
  
[[Travel00pagesRusfoto1|here]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski13.jpg]] In yet anotherdepartment, this one The Millinery Department., a group of specialty stitchers sew on moreNutcracker items and freshen up a few hats from the new (in Spring 1997) productionof The Betrothal in the Monastery (AKA The Duenna). The workers use ordinarywire rather than hat wire, and hand stitch a thread covering over the wires on items liketiaras that have the wire as the only under-structure. Several specialty industrialmachines are also used for joining together wire and buckram frames.
  
For more conventional travel images:
+
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski14.jpg]] Here, the hat cutter ispreparing to cut out a duplicate of the shako on the right from Nutcracker, while aweird turban from The Betrothal ... sits on the left. Behind her is one of severalshelves of hat forms available to the Millinery Department.
  
[[File:Travel198992915_20.jpg]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski11.jpg]] Here is yet another shelfof hat forms, which as you can see, does not provide enough shelf space for themultiplicity of forms left on hand. Some of the forms, stretchers and other hat equipmentare even older than the theatre. I asked them if they ever found that they didn't have aform that they needed for one of their productions and I was told that they did regularly(due to larger modern hat sizes), and that if they needed one that they did notposess,they simply order one made by the carpentry shop in another building, and it is brought tothem.
  
[[File:Travel198992915_21.jpg]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski12.jpg]] Generally,however they can make do with a slightly smaller hat and then stretch it since they have19th Century wooden stretchers like this one and 1920's electric metal stretchers (seephoto above) that can pull their hats to the proper fit. Among the rare and wonderfulequipment owned by the millinery department are a tiny set of puff irons (upper left) usedto curl silk into flower petal shapes, and to curve brims edges without curving the restof the brim.
  
[[File:Travel198992915_22.jpg]] [St.Chappelle, Paris]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski5.jpg]] The area with themost amazing equipment, however, is in the steamy dark basement of the building, where thedyers work. Here in the hall outside the main dye room are huge barrels of powderedaniline dyes. These dyes are the most powerful and electric in their colors, but dangerousto work with. Dyers and scenic painters who work with them have little protectiveequipment, but get higher "danger pay" for the probable health risks involved.As a curious holdover from the days of Soviet shortages, this pay includes extra milkrations.
  
[[File:PortfolioPortfolioscans2Belgium.jpg]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski6.jpg]]The main dye roomis about as hot and wet as a steam bath, despite a wall of open windows. The water is soprevalent that the whole floor has simply been covered with a wooden grate to preventslipping, and to keep the workers feet semi-dry. In this photo you see two 3'x6' steelvats on the left that share a movable fabric rotator. The fabric being dyed is sewn into ahuge loop before dyeing then rotated round and round through the vat mixture by beingmechanically pulled by the rotator above.
  
[[File:PortfolioPortfolioscans2Stoneface.jpg]]
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski4.jpg]]While the one vatis in use, the other vat is filled up with large pipes. Nearby, other fabric is gettingrinsed out in two converted claw foot bath tubs that have been plumbed to turn them intocontinuously flowing fountains of fresh rinse water.
  
[[File:PortfolioPortfolioscans2Laceshopbruges.jpg]]...Bruges,Belgium
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[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski7.jpg]] Here anothermachine (about 5' high) rotates another fabric loop through a mixture in the bottom of themachine. This rotator has flanges on the rotating wheel so that it simultaneously stirsthe mixture at the bottom even as it pulls the fabric to the top and over.
 +
 
 +
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski8.jpg]] Here a hugewashing-machine like vat takes smaller loads that spin around in it's rotating drum.
 +
 
 +
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski9.jpg]]After dying andrinsing fabric is automatically drawn through this steamer that heat sets the dye andirons the fabric by shooting steam through it with hot rollers.
 +
 
 +
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski1.jpg]] The shoedepartment, too, has all sorts of specialty equipment, and specialty workers. The shoesare made in a separate building where cobblers sit at low benches and hand make every shoethe same way they have done for the last century. Every Pointe shoe used at theMariinsky,plus hundreds of other shoes for dancers across Russia is made here in this fashion. Theday I was there they were busy making boots for Boris Godunov that looked like normal 17thCentury boots, but whose soles could be curled up easily in one's hand like a soft balletslipper. These boots would go on the dancers in the opera so they could leap about thewooden floor of the Mariinsky without sounding like a herd of elephants.
 +
 
 +
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski2.jpg]]Other departments,like the wood shop here, located in yet another building, support the work of the costumedepartment, by making specialty equipment when needed---like the hat blocks mentionedabove.
 +
 
 +
[[File:CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski3.jpg]] The Metal WorkingShop is another case in point. While most of their work consists of stamping, welding andriveting scenic and props items, there is also a machine there that individually stampsout brass military buttons with the old Romanov eagle insignia (now the symbol of theRussian Federation). This metal worker, as you can see is producing them in the hundredsto decorate the chests of the opera choruses.
 +
 
 +
[[File:PortfolioPortfolioscans2Lasylphede.jpg]]
 +
 
 +
'''Kirov/Mariinsky Links:'''
 +
 
 +
[http://www.kirov.com/|The Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia]
 +
 
 +
[http://www.webcom.com/shownet/kirov/sppress.html|St. Petersburg Times - Ballet News]
 +
 
 +
[http://www.webcom.com/shownet/kirov/|THE KIROV BALLET]
 +
 
 +
[http://www.webcom.com/shownet/kirov/ksched07.html|Kirov-Mariinsky Theatre, July & August, 1997 Schedule]
 +
 
 +
[http://www.scantours.com/St_PETERSBURG_BALLET_OPERA_SEASON.htm|ST. PETERSBURG OPERA & BALLET SEASON]

Revision as of 00:38, 23 January 2014

The Mariinsky Theatre's Costume Departments for the Kirov Opera and BalletThe Mariinsky Theatre'sCostume Departments for the Kirov Opera and Ballet

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski17.jpg

This Summer (1997) I went on a trip to Russia to renew sometheatrical contacts I had made previously, and to make some new ones. During this visit Iwas introduced to persons in the Mariinsky Theatre's Costume and Scenic DesignDepartments. I was given a tour of the costume shop, allowed to take photos, and activelyencouraged to post them on the web for your edification and enjoyment. The Mariinskydesign folks were planning to make a web site in future, but presently don't have theresources to do all that they wish in this area, so they were open to somebody puttingsomething about them on the web, to fill in the gap while they build their own site.

The Costume and Scenic Shops for the Mariinsky Theatre, arelocated in a number of buildings near the Theatre. They were originally established by theTsar's Government at the Turn of the Century as the shops for production of stage sets andcostumes for all the Imperial theatres (The Mariinsky, The Maly Opera, AKA The MussorskyOpera, and The Alexandrinsky Theatre). Now the shops mainly service The Mariinsky's needs,as well as the needs of The Mariinsky's two resident companies, The Kirov Ballet, and TheKirov Opera when they tour, and/or do a co-production with a foreign company. They alsotake in work during slack periods from other companies, both in Russia and, increasingly,abroad.

Their work has to be seen to be believed. Since their costumeswill be used for years, if not decades of repertory production, they are built with thesturdiness and quality usual to serious opera and ballet companies the world over. What isunusual is that because the staff is so huge, and the type of garments made are sopredictable ("White" ballets after all are always in white tutus, opera costumesoften are done to designs first rendered before the revolution, or shortly after), theworkers develop specialties that render them truly world-experts in the niche's theyoccupy. For example, stitchers are not generic. There are stitchers who work in men's wearonly, women's wear only, hats only, appliqué work only, soft scenery only, or semi-softsculptural scenery only. Ditto for cutters. Every pair of shoes is also made, by hand, onthe premises of a separate building. The result is that the workers are capable of beingboth fast and accurate in their specialty, and they can produce their costumes flawlesslyfor a price that gets foreign companies to beat a track to their door.

While I was there they were making plans to start marketingtheir hand-made Pointe shoes abroad under their own label. Apparently they have beenselling their shoes domestically to other companies for years without any label, andsuddenly realized they had a product that could export, thus filling the gaps left fromdried up government subsidies. Expect to see their work in dancewear catalogs in thecoming years, or better still, see it on stage when they tour to your nearest majormetropolitan area.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski17.jpg This photo showsa small part of the huge room called "The Women's Department" where all of themain cutting and stitching of the women's dresses is done. There are tables and machinesfor about 40 workers all crowded into this room, along with literally hundreds of hangingcostumes in various stages of completion.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski18.jpg At the time this photowas taken (July 1997) they were making in the shops five complete sets of costumes for theNutcracker (note blue snowflake tutus above) to be sent to Japan in preparation forthe Kirov Ballet's tours to the five major cities of Japan. These costumes will be parkedin their respective theatres for the five years the Kirov has contracted to tour each ofthem.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski15.jpg All the edges on all thetulle in all the tutus is cut into pinked scallops by this huge, hand cranked rotatingpinker. I actually own two old Victorian industrial crank pinkers, and have seen others(they are wonderfully handy for certain things) but this is about four times the size I'veyet seen. The crank wheel has about an 8" diameter, and it can zip through the tulleat an amazing rate. This one likely has been doing so since Pavlova was still takinglessons.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski16.jpg The Mariinsky's shop isfull of handy old equipment like this. They have dress forms of a huge assortment of 19thand 20th century bodice shapes, like this one for an 1890's corseted figure. Because theshops have been in continual use for the last century, they have all the originalequipment, plus succeeding time periods of equipment to satisfy their needs.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski10.jpg They also have access totheir storage, which houses costumes from the original productions of a number of designs.This hat, shown here in the appliqué department is from a production of Boris Godunovfirst designed in the 1920's. This worker is laboriously matching specially dyed andpulled swatches of fabric with the 1920's hat to make a new version with identicalmarkings. Interestingly, some of the fabric she is putting on the new hat is taken from aswatch-box from the original production. This particular type of gold organza isn'tproduced any longer, but, conveniently, the Mariinsky has some old pieces. Another swatchwas made by hand painting fabric with a hot pink aniline dye, as the original fabric wasas well. This attention to detail ensures that productions designed by long-dead designersfor long dead singers and dancers still have the exact look that the designer originallyapproved.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski13.jpg In yet anotherdepartment, this one The Millinery Department., a group of specialty stitchers sew on moreNutcracker items and freshen up a few hats from the new (in Spring 1997) productionof The Betrothal in the Monastery (AKA The Duenna). The workers use ordinarywire rather than hat wire, and hand stitch a thread covering over the wires on items liketiaras that have the wire as the only under-structure. Several specialty industrialmachines are also used for joining together wire and buckram frames.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski14.jpg Here, the hat cutter ispreparing to cut out a duplicate of the shako on the right from Nutcracker, while aweird turban from The Betrothal ... sits on the left. Behind her is one of severalshelves of hat forms available to the Millinery Department.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski11.jpg Here is yet another shelfof hat forms, which as you can see, does not provide enough shelf space for themultiplicity of forms left on hand. Some of the forms, stretchers and other hat equipmentare even older than the theatre. I asked them if they ever found that they didn't have aform that they needed for one of their productions and I was told that they did regularly(due to larger modern hat sizes), and that if they needed one that they did notposess,they simply order one made by the carpentry shop in another building, and it is brought tothem.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski12.jpg Generally,however they can make do with a slightly smaller hat and then stretch it since they have19th Century wooden stretchers like this one and 1920's electric metal stretchers (seephoto above) that can pull their hats to the proper fit. Among the rare and wonderfulequipment owned by the millinery department are a tiny set of puff irons (upper left) usedto curl silk into flower petal shapes, and to curve brims edges without curving the restof the brim.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski5.jpg The area with themost amazing equipment, however, is in the steamy dark basement of the building, where thedyers work. Here in the hall outside the main dye room are huge barrels of powderedaniline dyes. These dyes are the most powerful and electric in their colors, but dangerousto work with. Dyers and scenic painters who work with them have little protectiveequipment, but get higher "danger pay" for the probable health risks involved.As a curious holdover from the days of Soviet shortages, this pay includes extra milkrations.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski6.jpgThe main dye roomis about as hot and wet as a steam bath, despite a wall of open windows. The water is soprevalent that the whole floor has simply been covered with a wooden grate to preventslipping, and to keep the workers feet semi-dry. In this photo you see two 3'x6' steelvats on the left that share a movable fabric rotator. The fabric being dyed is sewn into ahuge loop before dyeing then rotated round and round through the vat mixture by beingmechanically pulled by the rotator above.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski4.jpgWhile the one vatis in use, the other vat is filled up with large pipes. Nearby, other fabric is gettingrinsed out in two converted claw foot bath tubs that have been plumbed to turn them intocontinuously flowing fountains of fresh rinse water.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski7.jpg Here anothermachine (about 5' high) rotates another fabric loop through a mixture in the bottom of themachine. This rotator has flanges on the rotating wheel so that it simultaneously stirsthe mixture at the bottom even as it pulls the fabric to the top and over.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski8.jpg Here a hugewashing-machine like vat takes smaller loads that spin around in it's rotating drum.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski9.jpgAfter dying andrinsing fabric is automatically drawn through this steamer that heat sets the dye andirons the fabric by shooting steam through it with hot rollers.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski1.jpg The shoedepartment, too, has all sorts of specialty equipment, and specialty workers. The shoesare made in a separate building where cobblers sit at low benches and hand make every shoethe same way they have done for the last century. Every Pointe shoe used at theMariinsky,plus hundreds of other shoes for dancers across Russia is made here in this fashion. Theday I was there they were busy making boots for Boris Godunov that looked like normal 17thCentury boots, but whose soles could be curled up easily in one's hand like a soft balletslipper. These boots would go on the dancers in the opera so they could leap about thewooden floor of the Mariinsky without sounding like a herd of elephants.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski2.jpgOther departments,like the wood shop here, located in yet another building, support the work of the costumedepartment, by making specialty equipment when needed---like the hat blocks mentionedabove.

CostshopMaryinskishopMariinski3.jpg The Metal WorkingShop is another case in point. While most of their work consists of stamping, welding andriveting scenic and props items, there is also a machine there that individually stampsout brass military buttons with the old Romanov eagle insignia (now the symbol of theRussian Federation). This metal worker, as you can see is producing them in the hundredsto decorate the chests of the opera choruses.

PortfolioPortfolioscans2Lasylphede.jpg

Kirov/Mariinsky Links:

Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia

Petersburg Times - Ballet News

KIROV BALLET

Theatre, July & August, 1997 Schedule

PETERSBURG OPERA & BALLET SEASON

This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto, originally founded by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. from 1996-2014, now flying free as a wiki for all to edit and contribute. Site maintained, hosted, and wikified by Andrew Kahn. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in this site.