Letters from PNB Artists: Pauline Smith, PNB Costumer

The Pacific Northwest Ballet Future Fund ensures that the artists at PNB are able to dance, create, and bring you joy during these times of uncertainty and change. We ask that you consider a gift to the fund, which will help keep our dancers, musicians, staff, and production teams employed and insured. We could not do this without you.

Keep reading for a message from PNB Costumer, Pauline Smith.

Dear PNB Family,

My name is Pauline Smith and I have worked as a First Hand in the costume shop for PNB since 1991. In that time, I’ve worn many hats – supervisor for specialty shoes and wigs in productions like The Sleeping Beauty, The Merry Widow, Swan Lake, Cinderella, and Don Quixote; assistant to costume designers Martin Pakledinaz (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ballet Imperial), David Murin (Silver Linings) and Roberta Guidi di Bagno (Coppelia); and assistant to the production stage manager for PNB’s tours to Istanbul and Hong Kong in 2000.

But my greatest joy in all of these years was to design costumes for Kiyon Gaines’ Sum Stravinsky in 2012. There is something so gratifying about making a beautiful garment and seeing it come to life onstage. That transformation never gets old and I miss the in-person experience so much.

Assisting designer Martin Pakledinaz as he created A Midsummer Night’s Dream was an incredible education for me. The majority of the costumes were custom painted or dyed. When the fabrics came in, they were just a pile of white, off-white, and cream but one-by-one they were transformed into singular fabrics “created” for each character. While a few fabrics were sent to New York to be dyed or painted, the vast majority of the work was done in house. Marty’s rich painterly vision for this production, including the scenery, is one of the things that makes our version so beautifully unique.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned while in quarantine is that my time at PNB is so much more than a job.

My decades here have resulted in cherished relationships, opportunities, and memories that make up a life I am proud, and lucky, to have. The pandemic has created a void, to be sure, but I cannot wait until we are able to experience the magic of dance again in person.  

Until that time, please consider supporting PNB’s Future Fund, which will help sustain our company until we’re able to safely take the stage again. Your support is appreciated by all of us at PNB, and we send a truly heartfelt thank you for your generosity and for believing that Pacific Northwest Ballet and the arts are essential! Be well, stay safe, and see you soon.

Thank you!

Pauline Smith

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