Thank you to Sherry Drake for taking the time to sit with us and give us an inside look at a veteran costumers experience. Sherry is a long time attendee of TutuSchools Costuming Seminars. Some costumers join us every year!
HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT TUTUSCHOOLS?
I found Tutu.com when doing a Google search for costumes ideas. I started following on Facebook and saw Tutu School. Never knew such a thing existed but was excited to see that it was so close to me – just 2 hours away!
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN COMING TO TUTU SCHOOL?
My first time was July 2016. I made a basic 8 piece bodice, romantic skirt and a basic tutu in pink. Since then, I think the only time I have missed a Charlotte Tutu School was March 2022. I learn something new every year.
WHAT KEPT YOU COMING BACK TO TUTUSCHOOLS YEAR AFTER YEAR?
Claudia is constantly refining and updating ways of doing things. I even go back to the basic bodice and tutu on occasion to re-visit those skills. When you come to Tutu School, you'll be surrounded by women who are absolutely wonderful. Many of them were professional stitchers/costumers. When I started, I was a "ballet mom" who was making costumes for the local ballet school but had never made a tutu. They took me into the “tribe” – a group of people who love ballet and making pretty things with quality and thoughtfulness of the fit and feel for the dancer. They helped me beyond anything I expected and made me realize that I could do this. Being in a room full of wildly creative people who are willing to share tips and tricks is so inspiring. I went home with a renewed interest in making tutus and more confidence that I could do it. So the next year I went back. And the next. And the next. To me, the best thing about Tutu School is the support team of Tutu School Alums that are there to help you with advice, encouragement, or even send you of a bit of lace or tulle if you run out of something that is no longer available since we all have a stash! I think of TutuSchools as a vacation to re-energize my spirit and soul. While it does NOT rest my body, it gives me deep satisfaction that I created something worth the time I put into it. I pick something different to do each time I go.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE COURSE KIT SO FAR?
I have done the 19 layer Faerie tutu, a Bell tutu, leotards, several men’s jackets and several classical tutus. Last year I did the Odalisque Classical Tutu – my favorite so far. So many kits and colors to choose from it makes it hard to choose!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TUTUSCHOOLS MEMORY?
My favorite memory is celebrating my 65th birthday at Tutu School toasting with champagne among a fantastic group of women.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COSTUME YOU HAVE DESIGNED?
My favorite was actually more of a refurb project. I found male and female costumes originally built for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre over 40 years ago in the dumpster at the studio because the director thought they were beyond saving. It took a lot of work, but they are now still being used!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO COSTUMING? WHAT AGE?
I started helping with costumes at Greenville Ballet in Greenville SC when my daughter started taking ballet – I think I was 40. She was late starting ballet and had previously been a tap/jazz dancer. One year at a dance convention, Frank Hatchett who was one of the teachers and a well known dancer at the time, told me that she needed ballet training to get to the next level in dancing. I signed her up for 1 month and she hated it. At the end of the month, she loved it!
Since the ballet studio was an hour away from home, I was at the studio a lot so started helping wherever I could. Once they realized I could sew, I started helping with costumes. The wardrobe mistress left when her daughter graduated and I took over the position as a volunteer.
My daughter moved on to UNSCA and Nutmeg Conservatory but I continued doing costumes. I did “retire” from being the costumer for Greenville Ballet after Nutcracker in 2019. We had no idea a pandemic was headed our way.
Pictured: Samples of Sherry's TutuSchools Class Projects