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With extended schedule, ballet costumiers busy this time of year

Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom Campbell is now on her 39th year with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and so, her 39th season of the ballet classic The Nutcracker. With the music written by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky at the end of his life i the early 1890's, the first time that the ballet was modified for children and performed in Russia in 1892, making this year the 120th anniversary of the ballet worldwide. Janet Groom Campbell fits PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson in the Sugarplum fairy costume in the costume shop at PBT's Strip District studios on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. The Sugarplum tutu is built with a peach brocade bodice and overskirt, trimmed in green silk, adorned with more than 2,500 Swavarski crystal, pearls, beads and applique.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom Campbell is now on her 39th year with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and so, her 39th season of the ballet classic The Nutcracker.  With the music written by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky at the end of his life i the early 1890's, the first time that the ballet was modified for children and performed in Russia in 1892, making this year the 120th anniversary of the ballet worldwide.    Janet Groom Campbell fits PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson in the Sugarplum fairy costume in the costume shop at PBT's Strip District studios on Wednesday, December 5, 2012.  The Sugarplum tutu is built with a peach brocade bodice and overskirt, trimmed in green silk, adorned with more than 2,500 Swavarski crystal, pearls, beads and applique.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater principal dancers cycle roles throughout each performance of the Nutcracker, so one cast member can end up playing 20 different roles in one week of performances. This means that one role will have several replica costumes made in different sizes for different dancers by Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell and her costume assistants. Dancer's dance in 'snowflake' costumes during Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>   Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater principal dancers cycle roles throughout each performance of the Nutcracker, so one cast member can end up playing 20 different roles in one week of performances.  This means that one role will have several replica costumes made in different sizes for different dancers by Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell and her costume assistants.  Dancer's dance in 'snowflake' costumes during Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater student Katie Klodowski, left, puts on a butterfly costume backstage at the Benedum Center before a dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker on Thursday, December 6, 2012 Downtown with fellow dancer Emma Horowitz, right. Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell commissions puppet makers and craftsmen to make the sculpted masks of the rats, butterflies, and the Nutcracker himself, with these butterfly costumes coming from craftspeople in NYC.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater student Katie Klodowski, left, puts on a butterfly costume backstage at the Benedum Center before a dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker on Thursday, December 6, 2012 Downtown with fellow dancer Emma Horowitz, right.  Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell commissions puppet makers and craftsmen to make the sculpted masks of the rats, butterflies, and the Nutcracker himself, with these butterfly costumes coming from craftspeople in NYC.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - The shoe closet at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater studios shows stacks of point shoes and character shoes organized by size on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Costumier Janet Groom Campbell is in charge of ordering and cataloging each principal dancer's specific shoe measurements which are handmade with up to ten specifications in London. A principal dancer will go through anywhere between 55-110 point shoes in a season, Campbell says, who will also dye the shoes to colors to match the rainbow of Nutcracker costumes.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>The shoe closet at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater studios shows stacks of point shoes and character shoes organized by size on Wednesday, December 5, 2012.  Costumier Janet Groom Campbell is in charge of ordering and cataloging each principal dancer's specific shoe measurements which are handmade with up to ten specifications in London.  A principal dancer will go through anywhere between 55-110 point shoes in a season, Campbell says, who will also dye the shoes to colors to match the rainbow of Nutcracker costumes.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater soloist Elysa Hotchkiss dances during a dress rehearsal for Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's version of The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012. The headpiece she wears is one of over a thousand that Pittsburgh Ballet Theater uses during their performance of the ballet. The female Arabian costume that Hotchkiss is wearing has pant legs embroidered with five motifs, which each took 25 minutes to embroider for a total of nearly five hours to embroider the whole pant.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater soloist Elysa Hotchkiss dances during a dress rehearsal for Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's version of The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012.  The headpiece she wears is one of over a thousand that Pittsburgh Ballet Theater uses during their performance of the ballet.  The female Arabian costume that Hotchkiss is wearing has pant legs embroidered with five motifs, which each took 25 minutes to embroider for a total of nearly five hours to embroider the whole pant.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom Campbell smooths the fur around the eyes of a rat mask in the wig room backstage at the Benedum Center before a dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker Downtown on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Campbell commissions puppet makers and craftsmen to make the sculpted masks of the rats, butterflies, and the Nutcracker himself, and personally checks each rat head before each show to make sure the glowing eyes are working and that the fur is smoothed to the right position.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom Campbell smooths the fur around the eyes of a rat mask in the wig room backstage at the Benedum Center before a dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker Downtown on Wednesday, December 5, 2012.  Campbell commissions puppet makers and craftsmen to make the sculpted masks of the rats, butterflies, and the Nutcracker himself, and personally checks each rat head before each show to make sure the glowing eyes are working and that the fur is smoothed to the right position.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell meticulously inspects each costume for fraying or other wear backstage at the Benedum Center on Thursday, December 6, 2012 Downtown. With dancers sweating and dancing in each costume night after night, Campbell stays busy with upkeep and repairs.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell meticulously inspects each costume for fraying or other wear backstage at the Benedum Center on Thursday, December 6, 2012 Downtown.  With dancers sweating and dancing in each costume night after night, Campbell stays busy with upkeep and repairs.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell adjusts dancer Kaori Yanagida's costume backstage before a dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012 as PBT student Andrew Kaczmarek adjusts the cape for his role as the Ringmaster in the background. At the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, costumier Campbell works with a small group of costume assistants to create 210 costumes for the annual production, which this year has been staged by Terrence S. Orr to take place across scenes of Pittsburgh, starting at a home in Shadyside. With the principal dancers of the company and the children from the ballet school all playing multiple roles, there are multiple versions of many costumes to fit different dancers.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater costumier Janet Groom-Campbell adjusts dancer Kaori Yanagida's costume backstage before a dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012 as PBT student Andrew Kaczmarek adjusts the cape for his role as the Ringmaster in the background.  At the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, costumier Campbell works with a small group of costume assistants to create 210 costumes for the annual production, which this year has been staged by Terrence S. Orr to take place across scenes of Pittsburgh, starting at a home in Shadyside.  With the principal dancers of the company and the children from the ballet school all playing multiple roles, there are multiple versions of many costumes to fit different dancers.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater student Will Robichaud waits backstage in a clown costume to go on during a dress rehearsal for PBT's version of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Center Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Different costumes have specific makeup that is laid out with the outfit accessories, along with a photo of how the face is to look for each individual character. Even the paste-on mustaches are specific to different roles.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater student Will Robichaud waits backstage in a clown costume to go on during a dress rehearsal for PBT's version of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Center Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012.  Different costumes have specific makeup that is laid out with the outfit accessories, along with a photo of how the face is to look for each individual character.  Even the paste-on mustaches are specific to different roles.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School student Mei Kotani dances in a 'snowflake' costume during a dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012. At the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, costumier Campbell works with a small group of costume assistants to create 210 costumes for the annual production, which this year has been staged by Terrence S. Orr to take place across scenes of Pittsburgh, starting at a home in Shadyside. With the principal dancers of the company and the children from the ballet school all playing multiple roles, there are multiple versions of many costumes to fit different dancers.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School student Mei Kotani dances in a 'snowflake' costume during a dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater Downtown on Thursday, December 6, 2012.    At the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, costumier Campbell works with a small group of costume assistants to create 210 costumes for the annual production, which this year has been staged by Terrence S. Orr to take place across scenes of Pittsburgh, starting at a home in Shadyside.  With the principal dancers of the company and the children from the ballet school all playing multiple roles, there are multiple versions of many costumes to fit different dancers.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Characters from across the many worlds of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker swarm the stage at the end of The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's version of the ballet as 'Ringmaster' Andrew Kaczmarek stands in the center on Thursday, December 11, 2012. The PBT's interpretation of the ballet includes over 200 costumes and around 1200 headpieces for the many roles throughout the show. First shown in Russia in 1892 to mixed reviews, 2012 marks the 220th anniversary of the holiday production across the globe.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Characters from across the many worlds of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker swarm the stage at the end of The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's version of the ballet as 'Ringmaster' Andrew Kaczmarek stands in the center on Thursday, December 11, 2012.  The PBT's interpretation of the ballet includes over 200 costumes and around 1200 headpieces for the many roles throughout the show.  First shown in Russia in 1892 to mixed reviews, 2012 marks the 220th anniversary of the holiday production across the globe.
Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, 11:48 p.m.
 

She has dressed Cinderella and Peter Pan, even “the queen of the Nile.”

This time of the year, though, Janet Groom-Campbell is up to her neck in sugarplum fairies.

“With ‘Nutcracker,' it's sort of wonderful ... a constant friend,” said Groom-Campbell, 59, of Moon, in her 39th year with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.

As costumier, she and her team of stitchers build all the costumes for the ballet company.

It can be a daunting task.

When they decided to make swans for the 2010 production of “Swan Lake,” they made 22 tutus. Each took a week.

From a backstage workshop, Groom-Campbell and her team built 110 of 215 costumes for “The Nutcracker.” Costumiers made the rest at shops in New York and Washington.

The ballet “Cleopatra” required 119 costumes, 44 wigs and 76 headpieces. Cleopatra herself made six costume changes.

“That was crazy. It was a joint production with the Boston Ballet and the Houston Ballet, and each of us took one-third,” said Groom-Campbell, who started working here in 1973 as a stitcher.

Her connections with quality suppliers — from Fort Pitt Leather, Uptown, to The Fabric Place in Mt. Lebanon, to Ullrich Shoe Repair, Downtown — helps the ballet touch a multitude of everyday people, said David Seals, communications director for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

“She's integrating ballet into unlikely communities,” Seals said.

Groom-Campbell can't guess how many costumes she has built over the years, but it's a far cry from the six in her first year.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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