In some opera companies, you are fined for wearing your costume incorrectly, or with missing pieces. Does this happen (or has it ever happened) in the ballet world? If so, what is the fine? And what’s the funniest wardrobe malfunction you’ve ever seen?
During the early years of The Australian Ballet one of the ways the company disciplined you was to levy fines for breaches of stage etiquette. These fines were usually imposed by the stage management and included wearing make-up or your costume in a way that hadn’t been sanctioned in the dress rehearsal. It could also include being late on or off stage, talking on stage or the catch-all complaint “unprofessional conduct”.
However, the company no longer imposes fines on the dancers because of a ruling by the dancer’s union, possibly because one dancer’s fines added up to a third of his wage!
One memorable costume problem happened to a principal male dancer in the company performing his first Swan Lake Prince. He was so busy warming up in the wings that when he went on stage he had forgotten to take his leg warmers off and appeared in pale grey tights, navy blue jacket and YELLOW leg warmers. Amongst our female dancers the horror is always a bodice malfunction, but the funniest I have seen was when one poor girl tried to continue dancing when her ‘fluffys’ (underwear) started to come down. Eventually when they reached her knees she could no longer ignore them and had to stumble off stage. I don’t know what the audience thought but we thought it hilarious!
You can email your ballet questions to Colin at [email protected]