The girls’ eyes lit up when they saw for the first time the shiny clothes hanging from the dance poles.
These are the costumes for the young dancers who will be the Polka Dot Clowns, Angels and Candy for the River Raisin Ballet Company’s upcoming production of “The Nutcracker” at the River Raisin Center for the Arts.
You could hear the chuckles as the outfits went over their heads.
“Is this one for me?” five-year-old Anna Linster asked, trying on one of the angel costumes.
“Their joy is contagious as they admire the costumes and, of course, spin to test the skirts for a good ‘turn factor,'” said Melissa Moore, RRCA Dance Director and Artistic Director of the River Raisin Ballet Company. .
The girls were fitted by seamstress Dyanne Morehouse, who has been designing and altering the dance company’s costumes since 2002.
“There’s such a buzz of energy when Ms. Dyanne arrives for costume fittings,” Moore said. “It’s absolutely heartwarming to see the dancers’ eyes light up as they smile at themselves in the mirror.
Moore’s seven-year-old daughter, Cassidy, was more than happy to wear the polka dot clown costume.
“I love the polka dot costume, it’s fun and silly,” Cassidy said. “Trying it got me so excited for the show. Ms. Dyanne is the best.”
The company’s first Nutcracker performance was in 2006. Morehouse said she initially started making the costumes for the production to help offset some of the cost of her daughters’ school fees.
“But now my girls have grown up and I (still) love doing it,” she said.
Morehouse does her own ballet as she flies here, there and everywhere in between on fitting day, sticking pins and making necessary adjustments to each dancer’s costume. There are 75 different costume styles for a total of 216 dancers. New to the show this year are the Palace Peppermints’ duds, who dance in Act 11: “Land of Sweets.”
“We are so lucky to have such a talented seamstress who makes all of the costumes for our productions,” Moore said.
But Morehouse says she’s happy to help.
“Ballet is my family,” she said. “Gail Choate-Pettit, Melissa Moore, Karen Keith and many more behind the curtain put together the best performance possible. There’s nothing quite like watching the faces of the kids (as they try) on costumes for the first time, and the ultimate is when they bring the costumes to life by dancing on stage.”