Design for Dance

For the second evening this week dance replaced politics in the beautiful setting of the City Hall Chamber.

This time English National Ballet took us behind the scenes of the costume making process for the Firebird production choreographed by George Williamson that took place earlier this year. The collaboration between the Istituto Marangoni, David Bamber and English National Ballet’s own Wardrobe Department has been extremely successful.

The evening event was proudly opened by Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture and English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Wayne Eagling. The occasion was associated with a fantastic exhibition of costume and design work on the exclusive top floor of City Hall’s ‘London’s Living Room’ and started with a short glimpse of Firebird performed by Junior Soloist Junor Souza. The extract, too short to fully appreciated Souza’s extremely long and precise lines in this beautiful setting, gave an idea of the impact of the costumes on the production.

The discussion panel that followed was led by the extremely witty and chatty Donald Hutera and included English National Ballet’s Wayne Eagling, Ksenia Ovsyanick (Artist of the Company), Archivist Jane Pritchard and Head of Costume, Wizzy Shawyer. Additionally, students Louise Körner and Ekaterine Lomtadze together with Massimo Casagrande, Senior Design Tutor of Istituto Marangoni, responsible for the creation of the costumes joined the panel. Finally, Rob Goodwin, creator of the extraordinary headpiece, epaulettes and feathers of the Firebird worn by Ovsyanick contributed.


The talk focused on the creation of a total work, marrying technology and design, and a discussion of the practical problems encountered by fashion designer in creating for dance and the proscenium theatre. The difficulties that arise lead to a constant search for innovative solutions as seen in Goodwin’s headpiece and its brilliant use of magnets. In this piece especially, design and technology come together to re-style and set a new mood in a ballet that has seen many successful productions in the past.

Katja Vaghi