Tutu Etoile History
Tutu Etoile began from the passionate love of all things dance. As a small child, I dreamt of the beautiful costumes that I would wear as a dancer. I began my dance training at the age of 6 in the Checchetti technique. I found myself quickly becoming one of the youngest to graduate from the highest level offered in the 1970's. Due to the strict body type requirements of the time, I opted to continue my dance training with my focus moving toward modern dance and classical jazz. Knowing what I wanted to do in life, I left high school early to continue my training at the prestigious California Institute of the Arts on full scholarship at the age of 16.
Cal Arts is where I got my first taste of costuming in a professional shop. With having some basic sewing skills I spent most of my free time in the costume shop soaking up as much information as I could from the renowned Martha Ferrera who was running the shop at that time. Soon after graduation I was contracted to dance and assist in magic for David Copperfield. This is where I began my professional costuming career. I first designed and built costumes for the live stage show and then continued with his television specials, all while under contract as a dancer.
After a forced retirement due to injury, I had the fortune to begin work in Houston Ballet's costume shop. This is where I honed my tutu making skills. My first tutu building experience was in the English method and then I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks training with costumers from the Kremlin, Kirov and Stanislavski Ballet companies.
One day while working on the white and black lead swans in Ben Stevensen's production of Swan Lake, one of the principal dancers came into the shop, sat down beside me and asked, "Why isn't there a company that offers high quality rehearsal tutus"? And so the wheels began turning! My initial intention was to exclusively offer rehearsal tutus. However, soon after launching the company we very quickly realized there was a large requirement for custom undecorated and decorated costumes. This all happened within our first year.
The name Tutu Etoile came about in our first photo shoot at Houston Ballet's studio. While photographing Principal dancer's Barbara Bears and Mirielle Hassenbohler, we were talking about my vision for the company and I expressed needing to decide upon a name for the company. Barbara, suggested I use the word Etoile and explained that the term Etoile is used at the Paris Opera as the highest ranking for their premier dancers. The English translation is, "Star".
Our official launch date was 1998, and over the past years we have enjoyed working with companies such as Moscow Ballet, Boston Ballet and principal dancers such as Wendy Whelan (NY City Ballet) and Sarah Webb (Houston Ballet).
Today, we continue to have the pleasure of working with dance companies large and small as well as individual dancers for guest appearances and competitions to include the Youth Grande Prix. We pride ourselves in designing and constructing one of a kind costumes and hold the highest quality in standards. Please read our "Construction Techniques", page to learn about our costumes.