NYCB dancers Peter Walker (left) and Jonathan Fahoury performing Kyle Abraham's "The Runaway," with costumes by Giles Deacon. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

Up Close and Personal with the Costumes of New York City Ballet Galas Past

Autumn in the Big Apple means one thing: New York City Ballet's Fall Fashion Gala. Since its inception in 2012 by Sarah Jessica Parker, the gala has produced dozens of new ballets, complete with original costumes designed by the fashion industry's biggest names. Ahead of this year's gala—which takes place September 26th and features new works by Lauren Lovette and Edwaard Liang, with costumes designed by Zac Posen and Anna Sui—NYCB joined forces with INTERSECT by Lexus on an exhibition showcasing the many stunning gala costumes from years past. We met up with Marc Happel, NYCB's Director of Costumes, to talk about the retrospective, the biggest lessons he's learned over the years, and the designers he'd love to work with in the future.


What's one of the biggest lessons you've learned over the many years of preparing for this gala?

As simple as it sounds, just having patience—patience, taking a deep breath, and remembering that everything will get figured out somehow. It always does.

Details of a costume for Thou Swell, designed by Peter Copping of Oscar de la Renta. Olivia Manno.

What are your favorite costumes of all time?

This is almost an impossible question, but I'd have to say any of the Giles Deacon costumes for Kyle Abraham's The Runaway; the breathtaking Alexander McQueen coat from Liam Scarlett's piece, Funérailles; the Iris Van Herpen plastic disc costumes for Benjamin Millepied's Neverwhere (people are still talking about that pointe shoe boot); and the square-necked dress by Gareth Pugh for Matthew Neenan's ballet, The Exchange—there's something so lovely about the simplicity and way it hangs. They all came alive onstage.

Former NYCB principal Robbie Fairchild modeling one of Happel's favorite costumes, a jacket designed by Alexander McQueen for Liam Scarlett's "Funérailles." Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.


Which designers are you dying to work with in the future?

Alessandro Michele, because he's got such an amazing imagination and it would be so interesting to see it interpreted as a ballet, Prada, and threeasfour.

NYCB principal Tiler Peck modeling another one of Happel's all-time favorite costumes, a dress by Gareth Pugh designed for Matthew Neenan's "The Exchange." Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.


What do you wish the audience knew about pulling off an event of this magnitude?

I wish they could see the team of people who work tirelessly to make this gala a reality—literally even right now, back at the shop, putting the finishing touches on this year's costumes. These costumes aren't pulled out of a magic closet, and I just can't emphasize enough how much energy goes into this production.

"Design In Motion" is free and open to the public through October 20th at INTERSECT by Lexus, 412 West 14th Street, New York, NY.

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After 25 Years, Victoria Morgan to Step Down as Cincinnati Ballet's Artistic Director

Last month, Victoria Morgan announced that she will step down as Cincinnati Ballet's artistic director at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. The organization's board of trustees has formed a committee to conduct a national search for her replacement.

Prior to coming to Cincinnati Ballet in 1997, the Salt Lake City native was a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West, as well as resident choreographer for the San Francisco Opera. She graduated magna cum laude from University of Utah, where she also earned her MFA, and has judged several international ballet competitions.

Entering her 25th and final season as director, Morgan has accomplished a lot at Cincinnati Ballet, not the least erasing the $800,000 in company debt she inherited at the outset of her tenure. To right the organization's financial ship she had to make tough choices early on—the first task the company's executive committee gave her was to release a third of the company's dancers. In her continuing effort to overhaul how the organization did business, in 2008 she became both the artistic director and CEO and set about building the company's now $14.5 million endowment. For the 2016–17 season, with the arrival of new company president and CEO Scott Altman, Morgan returned to being full-time artistic director and helped lead the realization of the organization's new $31 million home, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance.

A champion of female choreographers, Morgan has also choreographed numerous ballets for the company, including world premieres of King Arthur's Camelot and The Nutcracker. She has also helped orchestrate several company collaborations, including 2013's Frampton and Cincinnati Ballet Live and joint productions with BalletMet.

Pointe caught up with Morgan to talk about her recent announcement.

Victoria Morgan is shown from the side standing on stage right, turning to smile at a line of costumed dancers to her left during bows. She wears a patterned green dress with chunky green high heels and holds a red rose in her hand.

Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Why leave Cincinnati Ballet now?

It's been an amazing run and I have seen it all. I am not sure where I would go from here. I also feel there is a required stimulus and infusion of new ideas and energy that always needs to be a part of a growing, evolving and exciting arts organization.

What made you happiest at Cincinnati Ballet?

The people, from the devotion of patrons and donors to learning from and feeling the pride in work from the staff. It has also been so satisfying for me to choreograph on and watch so many dancers evolve in their dance careers and lives.

Were there things you wanted to do for the company that you weren't able to?

There were other collaborations I wanted us to explore and choreographers I wanted us to work with. It takes quite an investment to make those happen.

Your legacy includes actively creating opportunities for female choreographers. What motivated that?

I started realizing, in a profound way, the gender inequities in our art form. Because I was in a leadership position, I thought I could do something about this and try to get to a 50-50 balance of male and female choreographers. It took a little time to find women to step forward, but it happened. Now there are many more prominent female choreographers, including our resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald, and I am proud of that.

If you could handpick your successor, what qualities would you look for?

Somebody creative, charged up, and who can be visionary. Someone who has had a high-level experience in our art form. A leader who is demanding but also kind and supportive, and who opens doors to find new ideas while still embracing Cincinnati Ballet's philosophies.

What do you feel will be one of the biggest challenges for the new artistic director?

The important cause of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility). Whoever steps into that position has to have awareness of the culture of today's conversation.

Do you plan to keep choreographing?

I am not being proactive about it, but if the opportunity presents itself, it would be fun.

What's next?

I feel my next calling is bringing movement to the biggest segment of our population, baby boomers. I want to be part of an initiative that makes moving and wellness enjoyable and enlivens people.

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