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You can expect more than just the dancers to be on point April 28th and 29th at  TPAC’s Doña Perón. We got a glimpse into the creative process of Mark Eric, costume designer for Ballet Hispánico and let us assure you it was a privilege. From gowns spanning the whole stage to vintage Dior, this ballet will feel like a beautiful dream.

It was truly refreshing to speak with Mark, whose journey from the opera pit to dressing some of the biggest names in dance is filled with talent and tenacity.

When you have upwards of 80 costumes to design, where do you begin and what does your design process look like? 

I like to think about it as myself, the designer and the choreographer are our own fashion house. We design what we would have given to Eva Perón within the sort of codes and fashion trends of that era. Of course, there are some things that were borrowed — some things are so iconic, like Dior’s bar jacket. I worked with a costume house in NYC; Eric Winterling went to the MET and tracked down an original recording of the bar jacket pattern, which we then produced for the ballet with almost exact specifications. There is a little bit of everything in my practice, but yeah, it’s daunting to do 80 costumes. You just do one at a time. 

What costumes were the most difficult to make for this piece? 

I would say Eva Perón’s whole wardrobe was challenging because the choreographer didn’t really want her to leave the stage. She rarely wanted the energy to be broken. It was really working with the builders and dancers to rig everything so it could seamlessly come off. Things needed to be put on while they are on stage, which is pretty nerve-racking. It’s just like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.

What would you say is one of your signature design elements? 

I think something that I’m always interested in is pleating. I work with a pleater in NYC who has been around for almost 100 years, and I want to work with them so much to keep their practice alive. I feel so inspired, and I want that practice to be in NYC as amazing artisans. But I just fell in love with pleating, so I take any chance I can to incorporate some pleating.

How do you design with movement in mind?

That’s actually become part of the initial considerations in my design. They have to be able to move in it. In some ways, it’s kind of restricting, but it forces you to be more creative. It is sometimes a nightmare to find fabrics, but I’ve started to develop techniques to get around that, like working with fabric vendors, printers, fabric manipulators who can potentially mimic certain fabric finishes with printing on stretch fabric.

What kind of impact do you hope the audience walks away with?

I think it’s the overall feeling from the artistic team that we just wanted to present something new. Annabelle was really emboldened to retell a story that for the most part has been absorbed by the western world, through the lens of a Latinx perspective. I really wanted to be a part of that and make not only my vision come to life, but hers as well. It’s important to have female creatives and creatives from different ethnic backgrounds presenting their ideas. I hope people feel that it’s new and fresh, and I hope to entertain the whole house. I think of designing for the balconies— not necessarily for just the orchestra — and making sure everyone in the house has a really great time. People should be walking away with something to talk about.