The Firebird: A Ballet Costume

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
The Firebird is a ballet based on Russian folklore that opened in 1910. There was a real fad for all things Russian in the early part of the 20th century. Sergei Diaghilev created the Ballet Russes in Paris in 1909 to take advantage of this obsession. While he was at it, he decided to commission a new ballet that would be very much Russian in themes. He hired Igor Stravinsky (at the time largely unknown) to compose the work.

The Firebird is a pretty short ballet (it’s only about 45 minutes) and it tells the story of a young man, Prince Ivan Tsarevich (the Russian version of Prince Charming) who captures the Firebird while she is eating a golden apple at night. She offers him a magic feather and warns him about Koshi (also spelled Koschei or Kochi) the Deathless, an evil sorcerer. In the morning, Prince Ivan spies thirteen dancing princesses and he falls in love with one of them. Like you do. So, he decides to rescue them.

Prince Ivan confronts Koshi and uses his magic feather to protect himself from Koshi’s magic. Then the Firebird is summoned, she casts a spell on Koshi and his followers causing them to dance until they collapse (this is a ballet, after all). Prince Ivan than destroys a magical egg which holds the key to the sorcerer’s immortality. Once the spells is broken, the princesses are freed and everything is happily ever after.

Listen, it’s a ballet with a magical dancing bird- no one said there needed to be a logical plot.

Koshi the Deathless, the Firebird and Ivan Tsarevich are all figures from Russian fairy-tales and folklore, but the combination of all of them is pretty much just from the ballet.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
In ballet costumes, there is tradition stacked on tradition. The Firebird, the principle dancer role in the Ballet, is strangely one where there isn’t so much tradition stacked on tradition. Perhaps because the character is a mythological beast, or perhaps because the Ballet Russes was always a bit cutting edge and innovative, the Firebird costume isn’t very standardized. You see all sorts of versions around from traditional tutus to unitards to other.

Specific Source Images: This one was a big influence on my Firebird design.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More from the Ballet and Dancing collection
Around the Internet: The Firdbird on Wikipedia and the Danish Royal Ballet preforming the Firebird on Youtube (their costuming is fantastically non-traditional)

Last Thoughts
I love and have always loved Russian fairytales. I grew up hearing them. My favorite was Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf which I made my mother read to me over and over again. She probably got so sick of that fairy tale.

I’d like to give a shout out to my Patreon supporters, because without you all, the blog wouldn’t happen.

Ballet Practice Clothing

A set of dancing clothing with two leotards, two skirts and two wrap sweaters with tights and toe shoes for the curvy Jewels and Gemstones paper dolls.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
I love drawing pretty things like tutus, but I also wanted to draw practice clothing, because in reality many folks who dance, dance for the love of dance. They are not automatically dancing with the goal of performance before a crowd.

I have mixed feelings about ballet’s relationship with body shape, as I have said before. The stats on dancers and eating disorders are troubling. One 2003 study from the journal Psychopathology found that non-professional ballet dancers reported the highest prevalence of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa 1.8%; bulimia nervosa 2.7%; eating disorders not otherwise specified 22.1%) compared to gymnasts and bodybuilders, two other performative sports with high prevalence of eating disorders. I should add that the study looked at non-professional dancers, so I’m not saying these are the stats for people actually dancing in the National Ballet company or something.

Anyhow, I couldn’t in good conscious draw ballerina paper dolls for kids without feeling like I needed to mention the issues of body image and ballet. I try so hard not to preach on this site, but I know too many people in recovery from eating disorders, so I take that stuff really seriously.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I don’t do a lot of mix ad match sets anymore, but given that I couldn’t fit clothing and en pointe shoes on the same pages as the dolls I drew to go with this series, I thought I would make sure to give a variety of practice clothing to be mixed and matched. If you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice the en pointe shoes duplicate. I didn’t feel like drawing the same thing over and over again.

Specific Source Images: Dancewear Solutions and International Dance Supplies were two of the sites I used to find images of dance clothing.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & other Ballerina paper dolls
Around the Internet:Eating Disorders and Body Image Disturbances among Ballet Dancers, Gymnasium Users and Body Builders, Why Ballet Hasn’t Yet Caught Up to the Body Positivity Movement from Medium & Big Moves Dance Company: Beyond Body Positive Towards Fat Liberation

Last Thoughts

So, right now life is super crazy busy for me and I don’t see it slowing down for a while. I keep thinking- next month won’t be so bad and then next month rolls around and it is just as insane. So, thank you for your paitence as I work through everything happening in my life.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that becoming a patron means getting an extra paper doll/outfit every Friday.

I’m thinking I should also draw some non-ballet stuff. I specifically called this collection Ballet & Dancing. What other sorts of dance should I include? Leave me a suggestion in the comments.