The Rat King will ruin a fanciful Christmas before Susannah Lipinski will put old costumes onstage for Dancers Studio Inc.’s “The Nutcracker.”
“You certainly want them to always look different and fresh,” said Elizabethtown’s Lipinski, who has designed and created costumes for the seasonal show since 2003. “You don’t want people to think we’re just dragging outfits out of the basement.”
Starting in September, she and a team of a dozen volunteers began to tweak and
enhance each outfit for the cast of more than 220. For instance, the snow queen’s tutu this year sports a bit of light and dark blue instead of the traditional silver and white.
“That will definitely add some contrast,” said Lipinski, who also handles costumes for the studio’s spring recital.
Also, the 4-year-old puppet dancers will sport new smocks this year, which is enough of a change to make the outfits look brand new, she said of the work she does.
Yet, in her work, she also steps as gingerly as a dancer en pointe.
“You don’t want people to be looking at the costumes so much that they’re not watching the dancers,” Lipinski said.
Lipinski knows every detail of each costume, from flowers to snowflakes.
“We want everything to be perfect,” said Lipinski, who earned a textiles and apparel degree from the University of Illinois. “But we have to remember that most people are going to be seeing it from 500 feet away.”
See Lipinski’s handiwork when The Nutcracker is performed at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16 in the Columbus North High School auditorium. Organizers expect as many as 1,200 for the two shows.
How did you first get involved with the show?
I volunteered to help with costumes when my daughter, Mila, 14, began dancing nine years ago.
What’s your best creation over the years for the production?
That would be Mother Gigogne’s 25-foot-circumference hoop skirt (under which children hide) that I made in 2004. There was no pattern for it.
And we kept running out of fabric. We didn’t have enough blue. Then not enough pink. Then, we ran out of lace and ran out of ribbon.
We have lots of bits of pieces of things. And our job is to make them look like they all go together.
Why are the costumes so important to “The Nutcracker”?
I think that, right from the
beginning, they set the tone for everything else you are going to see. If you have rich colors going on, then I think you’re in for a rich experience.
Leading up to the show, you work up to 30 hours each week. Why have you continued your devotion that amounts to nearly a full-time job?
Part of it is still for my daughter and the other dancers. But a big part of it is for me and my enjoyment. I have a great corps helping me. There’s absolutely no way one person can do all of this.