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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance

Kentuckians in Dance

Ballet Costume Master Dan Fedie
Louisville, KY

Who Dan Fedie has been costume master for the Louisville Ballet for 15 years. He also has served as costume designer and costume shop manager for Stage One children's theater in Louisville and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and has worked in the costume shops of Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and the Kentucky Opera. A native of Wisconsin, Dan holds a bachelor's degree in speech and theater from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in costume design from the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana.

What “I work closely with the costume designer to bring the concept of the costume designs to life on stage. I'm involved in building the costumes, scheduling the people needed to help construct the costumes, and working to stay within budget guidelines.”

When “When the ballet is in rehearsal, I work during the day—about 8:30 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays. During performances, those tend to be really long days—8:30 in the morning to 11:00 at night. In theater they call them ‘10-out-of-12-hour days.'”

Where “We have a costume shop in the Louisville Ballet studio building. We have a nice large space with tables for cutting fabric, a fitting and dyeing room, storage for various articles, and so on.”

How “I work with the costume designer, and we have two people on staff full-time. Then we hire in on an as-needed basis. I supervise and guide the building of the costumes, work out how to coordinate and put it together in terms of the time we need. The costumer (who works for the costume master) actually supervises pattern making, stitching, and so on. Depending on the choreography, the costumes have to be light in weight. The dancers have to be able to do a lot of lifting and turning. We work a lot with the dancers. When they're in costume fittings, we have them do lots of movements—deep pliés, arabesques. Ballet costumes also have to have a grand look to them, which can be created by the type of fabric, color, texture, and ornamentation. The biggest challenge is to be able to execute the costume design according to the design that's on paper, meeting the goals of the budget and the design itself.”

Why “There's a lot that I really enjoy. The creativity of it all, the versatility—you're not stuck in one thing all year. Every time you do a show, it's something different.”

Getting There “I have an undergraduate degree in speech and theater and a master's in costume design. My assistant has a background in art, and one of my full-time stitchers has a background in the fashion industry. You need a very creative mind and an aptitude for constructing fine garments.”

Photo: Dan Dry


600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951