LONDON — Let there be color!
Roksanda Ilinčić sprung spring colors onto the dancers of the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House for Valentino Zucchetti’s world premiere of “Prima,” a reinterpretation of Christopher Wheeldon’s “For Four” as part of the firm’s “A Diamond Celebration.”
“He wanted a female designer to tell this story through the costumes. It was such a pleasure to be invited to be part of this incredible journey,” said the designer, who worked with the Royal Ballet in 2020 on Cathy Marston’s “In Our Wishes.”
“It was such a delight to be able to come together again for this very special project, creating a women-centered piece with an innovative design approach. Embracing this aspect all the way from discussing sketches and draping at my design studio to rehearsals at the Royal Ballet, we worked to challenge the ideas of what might be expected of classical ballerinas, incorporating modern cuts, fabrications and colors,” Ilinčić added.
The costumes designed by Ilinčić stood out on stage even against the highly decorated crystallized set of George Balanchine’s “Diamonds.” Spirals in the form of a snail shell attached to above-the-knee dresses in lightweight fabrics in turquoise, sunny yellow and teal pirouetted with the dancers, as did a burgundy, pink and orange dress with a skirt of soft drapes, and the signature piece, a burgundy turtleneck maxidress with neon pink lining and trim, which in motion spun like an aerial silk performer.
“As the piece was hugely inspired by each individual dancer, bringing elements of their personalities to the stage, I truly enjoyed spending time getting to know them from an early stage until the final moment. We worked closely together from sketch to stage and the wonderful journey allowed a beautiful understanding of the choreography, emotions and message to evolve throughout,” Ilinčić explained about the process of designing.
Her aim was to create something that reflected a modern approach to the traditional context, allowing freedom of movement and a duality expressed through unusual color combinations and structures.
Ilinčić’s designs for her own label always carry a wave of performance. “I have always been drawn to ballet and dance in general — the art form and its movements has a very special way of inspiring me,” she said, adding that visiting the annual festival for modern dance back home in Belgrade, Serbia, holds special significance for her.