Arts Lifestyle Reader Contributed

Ballet Theatre Company Announces ‘Through the Tulle’

Aurora Tutu: From BTC's 2019 spring performance of Sleeping Beauty designed by Pat Nurnberger. Photo Credit: Erica Marie Photography

West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company is celebrating its 22nd year with a ‘2-2’ exhibit.

From BTC’s production of The Nutcracker. The Victorian era dress worn by Clara Stahlbaum’s mother, Mrs. Stahlbaum. Photo Credit: Erica Marie Photography


West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company is turning twenty-two! For the past 22 years, the company has served Greater Hartford and beyond in offering professional performances, training aspiring dancers, and serving youth in underserved communities through enriching arts-based experiences. This 2020-2021 season, the company is ready to showcase its talents to the community in a different and exciting fashion.

What better timing than in this 2-2 (tutu) season to highlight one of the most loveable and often underappreciated parts of ballet productions; it’s tutus and their designers. The company will showcase its vast collection of tutus and performance costumes in museums and galleries throughout New England in an exhibit titled, Through the Tulle. The complete exhibit will include twenty-two selected costumes from BTC’s past productions of The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Don Quixote. Although tutus are a focus of this exhibit, they will not be the only featured pieces. Men’s character tunics and other character costumes, often fairytale creatures, will also be on display.

Ballroom: From BTC’s 2018 spring production of Cinderella designed by Tracy Dorman. Photo Credit: Erica Marie Photography

Our hats are off to the talented designers responsible for the pieces of this beautiful display.

Tracy Dorman, co-founder, Executive Director, and Head Costume Designer at BTC, is responsible for a large portion of BTC’s costume repertoire. Mostly self-taught, Dorman has been designing and constructing performance wear from simple skirts to elaborate tutus since high school and for the first five years of BTC’s existence, Dorman was the sole costume designer for the company.

Flower Petal: From BTC’s 2019 production of The Nutcracker designed by Pat Nurnberger and seen in the Waltz of the Flowers scene choreographed by Stephanie DattellasPhoto Credit: Erica Marie Photography

Today, BTC’s costume department consists of two other talented costumers, Pat Nurnberger and Norma Savarino. Nurnberger obtained her Master’s Degree in Costuming from UConn and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. After a career as a fashion designer in New York, she fell in love with designing theater costumes for her daughter’s ballet school and has since fully devoted herself to the arts designing for operas, musicals, and, of course, ballets.

Rendering of an English Bodice drawn by designer Pat Nurnberger. Courtesy image

Savarino has spent the past twenty years designing custom performance attire for individuals and large ensembles. Her experience ranges from middle school and high school theatrical productions to music videos and touring impersonators. Alongside her passion for theatrics, she developed a passion for outfitting High School Colorguard and Winterguard members for competitions and enjoys designing numerous uniforms, coordinating flags, and elaborate props for field competition.

Courtesy image

With many years of experience and truly gifted minds, these three designers are responsible for every stitch, snap, and embellishment found on the costumes presented in the exhibit.

The traveling exhibition will offer different content depending upon the location, its space, and its audience.

A first glance of the exhibit with a limited number of selected costumes opened on Oct. 1 and will be on display at the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society through Oct. 28. A grand opening event was held at the museum on Thursday, Oct. 1 and included a discussion with BTC’s artistic director, costume designers and dancers followed by a Q&A with attendees.  

The exhibit will be open in its entirety at the West Hartford Art League from Nov. 1- 22. To finish out the year, the exhibit will make its way to the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. Exhibit locations for 2021 will be released at a later date.

This exhibit would not be possible without the gracious generosity and support of Duncaster located in Bloomfield, CT.

For more information visit www.dancebtc.org and sign up for BTC’s newsletter to receive up to date information on where the tutus are headed next. Track the tutus on social media by following BTC on Facebook and Instagram (@dancebtc) and look for fun family-friendly contests, new announcements from the costume room, and more!

Ballet Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) not for profit arts organization. BTC is supported in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, Cricket Press, and Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

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