Artist Pages: Holly Hynes, The New “Nutcracker”

“How do I get into the mind of a child and the spirit of a children’s illustrated book?”

That’s what renowned costume designer Holly Hynes asked herself, when she began to design the costumes for Kansas City Ballet’s new production of The Nutcracker.

It’s a huge job, even for a designer who has worked on more than 200 productions, including 70 for the New York City Ballet. “We’re using 27 different vendors and 82 artists for the making of Nutcracker, just for the costumes,” Hynes said in a recent interview. “The tutus are coming from Newport Beach, Calif., the petticoats are being made in Colorado, the bonnets in Santa Fe, and a lot is being done in New York.”

Hynes looked at hundreds of children’s books before starting on her designs, which aim to set up visual correspondences between reality and what happens in Clara’s dream.

“Everything that happens in the first scene is fresh in Clara’s mind when she fell asleep,” she said. “Frau Stahlbaum, Clara’s mother, wears a dress in a beautiful shade of lilac. I’ve used the same color in the costume for the Sugarplum fairy.  Uncle Drosselmeier’s salt and pepper hair also makes a re-appearance in the dream.”

Hynes’ Nutcracker designs continue her trademark emphasis on “getting the right shape and the combination of color.”

“Because ballet is so much about the form of the dancer and not getting in the way of the choreography, my philosophy has always been that less is best,” she said.

Hynes, a native of Des Moines, who will celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary during the ballet’s run in Kansas City, is so excited about the production that she bought 50 tickets.

“You don’t get to do that many full-length ballets in your career,” she said. “To get to do a Nutcracker is a dream come true!”

CategoriesPerforming Visual
Alice Thorson

Alice Thorson is the editor of KC Studio. She has written about the visual arts for numerous publications locally and nationally.

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