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Theatre costume

Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1960 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lancaster, Osbert (Sir), born 1908 - died 1986 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Feathers, sateen, felt, foam and gauze

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

  • Museum number:

    S.65&A to C-1981

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 105, case 10 []

Men have impersonated animals from earliest times - as fertility rites, to ensure good hunting, to propitiate the gods. When organised theatre emerged in Greece, animal impersonation was an important element in the plays, and, although its presence waned over the centuries, it continued in folklore and stubbornly clung on in entertainments such as the English pantomime or the Chinese Opera.

Frederick Ashton's ballet La Fille mal gardée opens on a French farm, where the Cockerel and his four hens are scratching about in the yard - the stylized conventions of ballet easily accommodates both animal impersonations and the very real emotions portrayed by the human characters.

Ashton's choreography ingeniously suggests a cockerel's movements, but the costume has to suggest the shape and bulk of the bird without getting in the dancer's way. Foam padding ensures the lightness, and the 'wings' are attached loosely around the arms to ensure freedom of movement. The chosen fabrics suggest the sheen and gloss of the bird's feathers.

Physical description

Costume for the Cockerel worn in Act I of La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1960

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1960 (made)

Artist/maker

Lancaster, Osbert (Sir), born 1908 - died 1986 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Feathers, sateen, felt, foam and gauze

Dimensions

Height: 130 cm, Width: 60 cm, Depth: 55 cm

Object history note

Costume for the Cockerel, worn in Act I of Frederick Ashton's ballet La Fille mal gardée, first performed by the Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 28 January 1960. The music was freely arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery after the score by Ferdinand Hérold, and the scenery and costumes were designed by Osbert Lancaster. The original cast featured Nadia Nerina, David Blair, Stanley Holden, Leslie Edwards and Alexander Grant.

This immensely popular work has featured in the repertory of many ballet companies throughout the world including the Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Bolshoi Ballet.

Descriptive line

Costume for the Cockerel worn in Act I of La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1960

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Strong, Roy, Ivor Guest, Richard Buckle, Sarah C. Woodcock and Philip Dyer, Spotlight: four centuries of ballet costume, a tribute to the Royal Ballet, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1981.

Materials

Feather; Sateen; Felt; Foam; Gauze

Techniques

Sewing

Subjects depicted

Cockerel

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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