By Bianca Ladipo
“We have some of the best costumes. Come, look,” Tatyana Mazur says as she guides me to the back closet of the small dance studio she runs with her husband, Roman Mazur, in the corner of an unassuming strip-mall in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Inside, I am met with an explosion of velvet, tulle and satin. The dozens of dresses, tutus and elaborate headpieces stored here comprise a rare collection of Soviet-era dance costumes, still in use more than 40 years after they were made.
12 years ago, when I was 14, I wore one of these costumes. The bodices, bejeweled with hundreds of hand sewn sequins stood in stark contrast to the minimalist costumes of modern ballet productions. The faux gemstones may have seemed large and gaudy up close, but onstage they subtly caught the stage lights, illuminating dancers as they moved. Every decorative element was exaggerated to be visible from the last row of any theater.
Many of the pieces in Tatyana’s collection are delicate and noticeably weak from years of wear. Decades of sweat stains have discolored the fabric lining and the once vibrant satin has faded to pastel. The velvet pulls at the seams, worn-out and frayed. Columns of sizing hooks leave a record of differently shaped Russian, Ukrainian and now American dancers.
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