Patrick McDowell Designs Seductive and Sustainable Costumes With New English Ballet Theatre

The costumes Patrick McDowell designed for the critically acclaimed New English Ballet Theatre’s new performance Rosamunde, will be revealed inside the London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on Friday.

Commissioned in early 2020 and put on hold due to the pandemic until now, the project is a part of Royal Opera House’s Next Generation Festival, which spotlights promising merging artists from junior companies and premier dance schools from around the world.

McDowell collaborated with choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple to create costumes that played with opacity, revealing different parts of the body throughout the piece while maintaining his sustainable ethos. The designer worked with Italian mill Carvico to use high-quality Lycra regenerated from ghost fishing nets to create these one-off costumes in London.

“As a student at Central Saint Martins, I would buy standing tickets at the Royal Opera House and be in awe of the incredible dance talent this country has to offer. For me, it was an escape to another world. I dreamed of once dressing dancers at this historic and storied institution. Creating costumes for NEBT has been a long time coming,” McDowell said.

“With over 15 design revisions and four fittings at the iconic Pineapple Studios, we eventually got to a place where together with the choreography the piece made sense. We played with different levels of opacity in regenerated materials to create mystery and ultimately costumes,” he added.

Sketches for the costumes Patrick McDowell designed for the world premiere of Rosamunde, a new dark and seductive piece.

Runacre-Temple said the starting point for the performance is Schubert’s Rosamunde String Quartet, and the dancers play with ideas of concealing and revealing the moving body, and possibilities of creating an illusion on stage.

“I was interested in the sensuality of touch and of being touched, and the amorphous nature of the growing, changing human form throughout life. Patrick worked with me to create this dark and mysterious energy by working with different opacities with black costumes on a black box stage,” she added.

The New English Ballet Theatre is considered one of Britain’s top ballet companies. It commissions new work from choreographers for dancers from the U.K. and beyond and promotes young talent in performance, choreography, music and design. Over the past 12 years, it has furthered the careers of more than 100 dancers.


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