Making of a World Premiere: Costumes that Rock

Stephen Galloway and costume shop staff in the Boston Ballet costume shop around a table with design ideas

Photo credit: Stephen Galloway

Go behind the scenes as Stephen Galloway collaborates with Boston Ballet’s Costume Shop on fashion-forward designs for his rocking world premiere.

Stephen Galloway and the Boston Ballet Costume Shop & Wardrobe team

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Creating a mood board for the costume designs

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Stephen Galloway and the Boston Ballet Costume Shop & Wardrobe team

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Creating a mood board for the costume designs

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

With tremendous versatility and an idiosyncratic style described as “equal parts Balanchine and voguing,” (The Wall Street Journal), Stephen Galloway has dominated the global arts scene as a dancer, designer, and creative movement director.

Over his career, Galloway has been a principal dancer at Ballet Frankfurt, consulted for fashion powerhouses (Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Yves Saint Laurent—to name a few), and coached models for the likes of Vogue and W Magazine. He designed award-winning costumes for companies worldwide including Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala, and Ballet Frankfurt. He can also be credited as the man behind “moves like Jagger,” having served as Creative Movement Director for The Rolling Stones.

His masterful combination of talents will culminate at Boston Ballet this spring in a world premiere for Off the Charts. Not only is Galloway choreographing, but he is also lending his abilities as the piece’s costume designer. Take a peek into the Costume Shop as he dreams up his fashion-forward, rock-inspired designs.  

A Fashion-Forward Collaboration
Influenced by his background in haute couture, Galloway is taking a different approach to creating the costumes for his world premiere. “I really wanted to treat it as if we were building a fashion collection,” he says.

Typically, the Boston Ballet Costume Shop team receives complete, though not necessarily finalized, renderings from the costume designer. Galloway, however, involves the team early on in the artistic process.  “I trust the fantastic Boston Ballet Costume Shop so much it really allows me to go outside my comfort zone in terms of what I want to present,” he explains.

Galloway first meets with the team to share his overall vision for the production. Together, they pore over rock-inspired images and create mood boards, which they use to test out new ideas and choose the overarching color palette. Following this, the Costume Shop team puts together a package, including dyed color swatches, meeting notes, and composite images. They also start to construct sample items and fabric treatments to present to Galloway. Once the designs are finalized, the team begins the usual process of sourcing materials, creating mock-ups, and building the final pieces, while continuing to have ongoing conversations with the choreographer.

“It was a much more back-and-forth process than we typically do,” explains Costume Crafts Person Erica Desautels. “However, many of us in the shop have fashion backgrounds, so it’s still familiar territory.”

This is not the first time Galloway has worked with Boston Ballet’s Costume Shop. He is the costume designer for several of William Forsythe’s ballets in Boston Ballet’s repertoire, including Pas/Parts 2018 and Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. However, this is the first time the Shop has worked with him on an original, new design.

“Stephen Galloway is an incredible force and presence in the Shop,” says Desautels. “He brings a playful, collaborative spirit and an energy that is very complementary to ours.”

Stephen Galloway and Boston Ballet Costume Shop by Brooke Trsioloni

Stephen Galloway in the Boston Ballet Costume Shop

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

A Unique Dancer’s Perspective
Galloway’s unique method for costume design is also born of his decades-long career as a dancer. Throughout the 25 years that he danced at Ballet Frankfurt, he designed numerous costumes for the company and eventually became Head Costume Designer and Style Coordinator.

“His background as a dancer is extremely valuable to us,” says Desautels. He understands the intense physical demands on ballet costumes from first-hand experience, as well as the adjustments and treatments necessary to accommodate those demands. The expertise Galloway brings to the table enhances the sensibility and functionality of the costumes, which is crucial to a dancer’s performance.

“The best thing about being both a dancer and a costume designer is that I know how it feels when you feel like a costume was made specifically for you,” said Galloway. “You just dance differently.”

A Rocking World Premiere
A world premiere by the former Creative Movement Director for The Rolling Stones calls for costumes that rock. Since they are being created in tandem with the choreography, one shapes the other. “I’m having so much fun with the Costume Shop and we’re coming up with such great ideas, I’m thinking of adding dancers to the work just to wear specific costumes,” he admits with a laugh.

Galloway’s multi-faceted artistry will light up the stage this May in an electrifying work alongside Jiří Kylián’s Bella Figura and William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite in Off the Charts.
 

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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