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Colorado Ballet celebrates new costumes, set after COVID-19 brought challenges

It was a difficult task without company dancers able to do fittings, but the ballet helped keep costume shops in business.

DENVER — Though the pandemic put a few wrenches in their plan, dancers at the Colorado Ballet will perform on a new set in new costumes for their annual "The Nutcracker" performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. 

"We have Nutcracker sets and costumes that were made in 1986 and we purchased them from another company back in 2005," Artistic Director Gil Boggs said.

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Costumes and set pieces before the replacements were glued, taped and sewn back together to keep them usable for each performance. This prompted the group to raise money in 2019, but when COVID-19 hit, it became increasingly difficult to get costumes.

"We would hire a dancer to go into the shop, put on the costume, we would all be on Zoom looking at the costume saying you need to fit a little better, here make this a different color, a lot of process there," Boggs said. "So the challenge was not being able to be physically with the costumes as they were being made."

Their designer was in New Jersey, and other costume shops in New York. 

Credit: KUSA

Although there was frustration, there was gratitude from the costume shops. 

"And they were so thankful that we were able to give them business, keep their employees working, keep them employed," Boggs said. "And it was a win win for all of us." 

To see the dancers' new costumes and set, get a ticket to the show and look closely for some Colorado-themed elements in their ensemble.

"So we have a zebra and unicorn, a blue horse and my favorite is the Colorado ram," Boggs said. 

Performers before had to improvise when needed and fend off disasters due to old set pieces, but now with a brand new set, they can focus on other parts of the show. 

"The old mouse heads that they wore, the guys would put on swim goggles because there was so much dust and flaking that they were falling apart that they would have to wear goggles to keep it out of their eyes," Boggs said. 

As is a tradition in ballet, each dancer to wear the costume first gets their name permanently stitched in them, preserving their legacy in the cloth for maybe a couple more decades to come. 

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