I first witnessed ballet was when I was seven years old. My mother had taken me to see the Sadlers Wells Ballet perform Les Sylphides in London, and I was instantly mesmerized! Little did I know at the time that I would become a professional dancer, and then later transition to a costume designer.
I never lost my love of dance and dancers. I know how hard it is to train, to become really good, and how short a ballet career will most likely be. Dancers of any age speak a common language, a language of sore muscles, intense and disciplined training, and the pure joy of artistic expression through movement.
In fact, it was my experience as a dancer that got me my first costuming job. I met one of the producers of Ann-Margret’s lavish Las Vegas act, who was looking for someone to co-ordinate the 12 dancers’ and 6 singers’ costumes for her show. I thought I didn’t know anything about costumes, only having worn them, never having made them, but the brilliant producer said I must understand what dancers need, and so gave me the job! That was what started it all.
Through Ann-Margret, I met Bob Mackie and became his assistant for the lavish Las Vegas show “Jubilee,” and once again found myself costuming dancers. During rehearsals, I even took class with them from time to time if I wasn’t busy downstairs in the wardrobe department.
Many years later, while designing the show Passions, I had an unusual experience with actress Leigh Taylor Young. It turned out we had a unique connection from the past. She asked me, “Were you ever a student at the National Ballet School in Toronto?” I was surprised at the question, as that wasn’t something that was in my bio. It turns out that she was also a ballet student there, a couple of years younger, and “looked up” to me, one of the “older” students at age fourteen!
From ballet to Broadway to ball gowns in Hollywood. Who would have thought!
About the Author:
Diana Eden started her career in Toronto at the age of 15 with the National Ballet of Canada. Her career continued with dancing roles in two films and four shows on Broadway. She transitioned to costume design in Los Angeles, working with some of Hollywood’s top stars in TV and film. She is currently near completion of her book “Stars in Their Underwear, and Other Memories,” due out in June.