THE SYLVAN GLADES



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In the mock opera "Il Muto" there is a ballet called "Dance of the Country Nymphs", where feather light sylvan glades appears. These elegant dancers are dressed in mint green and pink (the key colours of the "Il Muto" design), although the actual colour scheme varies a bit within different productions. Australian and European versions tend to go for mint green and glittering fabrics, while the US ones use bolder and brighter colours. Canada appears somewhere in between, while the original costumes and the Japanese ones are rather pale.

The skirt of the costume is bell shaped as the classical 19th century tuts were, with multiple layers of different texture. Over the tutu there's a shorter glittering overskirt with trims, and over that there's a small green, draped apron. This apron is decorated flowers in front, and ending in a big bow in the back. The neck deco is similar to the apron, with a green drape with ruffle, flowers and trims. They wear a wig with an antique Greek inspired hairdo with ringlets in a bun, and a head gear of flowers. Flowers are essential to this costume. There are many similar costumes from ballet performances of the era. Brianne Kelly Morgan (Meg Giry in Las Vegas) stumbled across a very similar costume in a 19th century depiction hanging in the Palais Garnier in Paris. This might very well be something designer Maria Bjørnson saw when she was there to get inspiration. I was also intrigued to see something similar appearing in the Lon Chaney POTO movie. Furthermore there's similar creations both in Edgar Degas' sketches, and in the V&A archives. Many historical references here.

Choreographer Gillian Lynne adapted the style of the classical French ballet for this sequence of the musical: "The dance styles of the era were very different from those of today. Nowadays, the excessively opened, arrogant backs of the Russians and high legs are "de rigeur". Whereas in the era of our story all the arms were carried in front of the body and the torso was tilted and pushed forward with no excesively high legs. The "hard block" pointe shoe of today was unknown. A version of it was just coming into being and entailed the petits rats darning the ends of their shoes and inserting a little wadding to enable them to execute the fast footwork desired by the choreographers of the time - but these things are specific".












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