By Marcy Stamper
When more than 70 dancers bring the classic ballet Sleeping Beauty to the stage at the Omak Performing Arts Center this weekend, the story will come to life in part through vibrant costumes and dramatic props — including an immense dragon — that are the handiwork of Methow Valley residents Linda Dunn (costumes) and Laura Bitzes-Thomas (the dragon).
To create mesmerizing on-stage effects, they had to envision how everything would move with the dancers.
Children’s Dance Theater is performing the full Sleeping Beauty — a prologue and three acts — on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 4 – 6), with original choreography set to the music by Tchaikovsky, said founder and choreographer Lorrie Fraley-Wilson. The fairy tale includes a princess, an evil spell, 100 years of sleep that save the princess from harm, and the ultimate transformation of the kingdom.
Dunn’s costumes range from the traditional — tutus with quilted tulle and hand-sewn sequins — to the more unusual and demanding. The costume for the evil fairy Carabosse required 32 yards of fabric. “When the girls dance, the sequins sparkle as they spin,” said Dunn.
For Sleeping Beauty, Dunn drew on techniques she developed making clothes for the Trashion Fashion show last spring. Audience members will never guess that the princess’ glamorous headdress is reinforced by a plastic cat-food-bag liner.
“After the Trashion show last year, my brain exploded, writing down designs. I can use different things for costuming now,” said Dunn. “It really makes you think outside the box.”
There are half a dozen parent/child pairs dancing in Sleeping Beauty, but Dunn is proud to be part of the only grandmother/granddaughter combo. “It’s wonderful to be on stage and watch your granddaughter en pointe,” she said.
Dunn has boxes of jewels, rolls of satin ribbon, and bolts of glittering fabric in her basement studio. The sewing supplies share the space with her weightlifting equipment, which sometimes doubles as an extra garment rack.
Dunn started sewing at age 14 and made all the clothing — as well as Halloween costumes — for her four children. Today she designs and sews her own posing suits for body-building competitions, as well as outfits for other events, such as the matching bustiers that she and her daughters wore to a Lady Gaga concert.
Bitzes-Thomas has designed and created several ballet sets and props over the years. Fraley-Wilson wasn’t willing to divulge too much about the dragon, wanting to reserve the full impact for when it first appears on stage, but Bitzes-Thomas let on that the jaw alone is constructed from 4 1/2 feet of foam. And it matches the costume of the evil fairy, which has huge purple sleeves with shimmering red lining. “The dragon is really impressive. Laura just knocked herself out,” said Dunn.
Sleeping Beauty will be performed Friday and Saturday (Dec. 4 and 5) at 7 p.m. and Sunday (Dec. 6) at 2 p.m. at the Omak Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students, children and seniors. Dec. 4 is family night, when you can get four tickets for $40.