Patrons of the ballet are transfixed by the movement of beautiful bodies, but it’s those costumes in motion that complete the performances.
Ballet Memphis peers closely at the clothing Saturday as it opens its 27th season with “En Pointe/En Vogue,” a performance that shows the importance and impact of costuming.
“I’ve figured a timeline for ballet from the 1830s to 2013,” says Kendall G. Britt Jr., a company member who is curating the show along with wardrobe manager and costume designer Bruce Bui.
The performance begins in the days when tutus and tunics ruled, up through contemporary dance fashion, particularly what’s been seen in commissioned Ballet Memphis performances.
It’s a look at 27 ballets in a runway format, but it’s not any sort of traditional fashion show.
“We don’t stand still or walk in a straight line,” Britt says. “Everything is dance. The way I think of a costume fashion show is that the costumes are meant to be shown being moved in, not walked in.”
The ballet pieces chosen are significant, Britt says, because they have shaped what the art is today.
“The last portion is seven ballets, all commissioned for Ballet Memphis (by founder and artistic director Dorothy Gunther Pugh). So you’ll see where ballet has come from.”
Britt has also chosen a score that links everything, rather than using the music associated with particular pieces.
“I think it will speak for itself,” he says. “Kind of quirky and Kendall.”
“En Pointe/En Vogue”
7 p.m. Saturday, Ballet Memphis studios, 7950 Trinity. Tickets $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Seating is general admission and limited. Ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and dessert buffet; cash bar. Information: 901-737-7322 and balletmemphis.org.