My studio purchased practice tutus with seven stiff layers to use in a performance. Even after tacking the layers together, the tutus want to turn inside out when we leap and stay stuck upward. Do you have any advice? —Lisa

If you're going to use the tutus for a performance, you should probably ask your costume manager for help before taking one apart—especially if you're all thumbs when it comes to sewing. But if you don't have one at your studio, I asked costume designer Holly Hynes for her insights. She suspects the hoop inside the tutu is too tight, which is causing it to flip and, unfortunately, stay up. Luckily, you should be able to enlarge its circumference.


The hoop, which helps the tutu retain its shape, is buried within the middle layers of tulle. If you stick your finger through the layers, you should be able to find it—it's encased in a tulle sleeve. Hynes notes that making the hoop bigger will make the tutu fullness spread, so untack the layers first. Afterwards, feel around the casing until you find where the hoop's ends fasten together. Using a seam ripper, open a small slit in the casing to expose the fastener, and adjust the hoop's size by pulling the ends gently. There should be an overlap of about two inches. "You'll probably only need an inch," says Hynes. Once adjusted, stitch the casing back up and re-tack the skirt.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

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"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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