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The Incredible Costumes of "The Most Incredible Thing"

Sterling Hyltin as The Princess in The Most Incredible Thing. Photo by Nina Westervelt for WWD.

New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck has balletomanes everywhere on the edge of their seat, impatiently awaiting the premiere of his first narrative work, The Most Incredible Thing. Based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the ballet will feature dozens of NYCB dancers and students from SAB (the cast numbers more than 50!).

Until now, we've only had tantalizing peeks at the costumes, with designer Marcel Dzama and Peck posting a few shots on Instagram. And we haven't heard the music at all. But with the release of NYCB's The Most Incredible Thing trailer, we finally have a chance to see some of Dzama's wildly original designs in action, worn by Peck's usual muses as they dance to music by composer Bryce Dessner (of the band The National).


The trailer looks like something Wes Anderson might direct, which bodes well for a fairytale full of both wonder and destruction. Peck's aesthetic and vision have only grown more clear as he becomes more experienced, and it's exciting to think about how his stylistic preferences will play out on such a grand scale. Fingers crossed that this ballet is full of the heart and excitement that abound in his most successful works.

Tiler Peck as The Cuckoo in The Most Incredible Thing (photo by Nina Westervelt for WWD)

If you're curious how these outrageously ornate costumes came to life, check out this Women's Wear Daily interview with Dzama. Famous for his macabre sketches and masks, Dzama doesn't seem like an obvious choice as the designer of a ballet. But with the help of NYCB's costume shop, Dzama's ideas have ended up coming to life. They're reminiscent of work by Maurice Sendak—and keep in mind that the beloved picture book author/illustrator did indeed create the designs for Pacific Northwest Ballet's former version of The Nutcracker. Maybe the minds of artists in touch with their inner child are perfect for creating a fantastical world onstage.

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