Wardrobe mistress of home turf as touring company heads for Bay
HELEN Lillington, who works as the touring wardrobe mistress for English Youth Ballet, will be on home turf when their production of Giselle rolls into the Princess Theatre in Torquay.
Helen has lived in Newton Abbott for 20 years and, when she is not touring the UK with the ballet company, she runs a small home-based textile and soft furnishings company and works as a costume-maker.
She enjoys spending time with her 21-year-old daughter Melissa, who also lives in Newton Abbott.
Helen is also in demand teaching circus skills to children.
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She has been touring the UK with English Youth Ballet for 12 years.
The unique company combines the talents of international principal dancers with 100 of the most-talented young dancers living locally to each theatre.
She is responsible for more than 260 costumes for each of the five productions in the current repertory of the company.
"At the theatre my day begins early with the washing, ironing and steaming of the costumes.
"There are always plenty of last minute alterations and fittings.
"It's my job to make sure all the costumes, headdresses, shoes and accessories are immaculate and they are all in the correct dressing rooms for the 100 young dancers and seven professionals in each production."
When Helen is not carrying out emergency costume repairs or quick changes with the professional principals, she finds time to inspect all the young dancers before they step on to the stage.
"I have always loved travelling — getting into my car and setting out on an adventure. I enjoy meeting some of the best young dancers in the country. Also, the job is never boring. Each new venue is unique, you never know what will happen next."
English Youth Ballet's production of Giselle is set in Edwardian England.
Helen is part of a team of professional costume makers who created the lavish costumes for the ballet.
There are a diverse range of costumes in the ballet from the servants of the country house to the aristocratic ladies and gentlemen.
In act two of the ballet, the action takes place in the forest with muted and autumnal colours. Helen made the Wili Spirits of the Forest costumes.
"The dancers wear an amazing jade eye makeup to mirror the green contained in the skirts," she said.
"I am proud of Torbay and I can't wait to show the company around.
"I'm also really excited for my friends and family who have only heard of our adventures, to see the ballet in the flesh."