Some people train for decades to perform in “The Nutcracker” with The Washington Ballet. Other people practice for about 15 minutes before the underbust corset show. Last week, I found myself in the latter category.
It all started in September, when I got an email from the ballet company’s public corset skirts sets relations manager, Jessica Fredericks, asking if I’d like a walk-on role for one night of the show. Once she assured me I would not have to dance, I enthusiastically agreed. I’d never seen the company’s American-flavored version of “The Nutcracker,” which christmas costume premiered in 2004. In my role as the Merry Widow, I’d get to see nearly half of the ballet from the best seat in the house: onstage.
A few weeks later, I met up with wardrobe supervisor Monica Leland to try on the Merry Widow costume, which consists of a Victorian-style corset longgown dress top, two voluminous skirts and a bustle.
Since I am about twice the size of your average ballerina, the top didn’t come close to fitting, so we decided I’d wear my own similar-looking blouse. Happily, the skirts fit — though only when left completely unzipped. As for the bustle, I argued that my well-endowed posterior did not need further padding, but Leland said I had to wear it anyway.