Leonor was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She has been with Ballet Arizona since 2001. Joining her in the costume shop are: Luz Ruiz-Ortiz, costumer and tailor; Alejandra Sainz and Catalina Cano-Dominguez, seamstresses; Manuela Zavala, tailor; and Flor Arce, footwear artist – all of whom are from Mexico. The team is charged with sewing, creating, altering, dyeing, cutting and fitting all the costumes and toe shoes for each and every dancer, as well as arranging all the wigs and make-up for every Ballet Arizona production.
Career highlights: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico; attended the University of Barcelona, Spain, through a student exchange program at New York University where I received my Master’s degree with a specialty in Textile and Costume Design; costuming for Puerto Rico’s PBS station for over 25 years; costume manager for all period-themed commercials filmed in Puerto Rico; costume manager for the Warner Brother’s movie, La Coquito; costume manager for Telemundo’s Angelica mi Vida, filmed in Miami, New York, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles.
Most challenging production: Ib Anderson’s Topia. The idea was to create the image of a Greek nymph; the goal was to bring out the naturalness of the body while making the dancers look sublime and ethereal. The reason it was so hard was because all the costumes had to be hand stitched, so that the draping on each female dancer was unique to their body. The men’s costumes were also tailored to each of their bodies in order to simulate nudity, while remaining elegant. Another challenge was that the costumes needed to look fragile and delicate to the audience, but strong enough to endure the rigorous dancing. Each costume had to be hand washed, carefully steamed and repaired after every performance.
Tell us about the conceptualization and design process: First and foremost, you have to understand the vision of the artistic director or choreographer. The costumes are part of the toolkit that they utilize in order to transmit their interpretation to the public. Then, one has to take into account the movements and bodies of each dancer in order to make them feel and look comfortable when they dance. Lastly, one has to have extensive knowledge of the properties of textiles and colors.
Your favorite Giselle costume? The Willis (vengeful female spirits who haunt the forest by night), because they are ethereal spirits that need to float and convey a sense of immateriality. This ballet is a fantastic trip that takes to you to a dimension somewhere between the real and the spiritual.