A Tradition of Handmade Costumes in Roxey Ballet's Nutcracker

During the months leading up to the Nutcracker, Roxey Ballet's costume designers Alicia Worden and Nilda "Grandma Roxey" Roxey-Jones work around the clock. Together, they have partnered up for the past 13 years to design and create Roxey Ballet's unique, handmade Nutcracker costumes.

This year, with the help of numerous, dedicated volunteers, the two designers are creating brand new costumes for the nutcracker, prince, and soldiers, just in time for opening night. After the initial stages of researching historical attire, they created numerous drawings and sketches planning out the details of each design. They ensure that each costume has a flare of originality that defines the dancing of the Roxey Ballet Company. "Our hearts are totally into our designs, as you can see by all the handwork there's a lot of love and detail that goes into these," says Alicia Worden. "Every detail is thought of, from how the garment moves when it's being danced in, to how the costume allows the dancer to not only look, but feel the part," she says. For the soldier costumes in particular, they dug all the way back to the Victorian Era to draw from characteristics of historical uniforms. Once the basic design is complete, jewels, trims, and appliqués are then hand sewn on the garments so that each dancer lights up the stage. Surrounded by antique sewing machines that are rumored to have been used for Ringling Bros. costumes, Worden and Grandma Roxey cut, design, and sew to bring these costumes to life. Though Worden and Grandma Roxey have extensive fashion design experience, they say their passion for costumes extends beyond professional training.

"When I was a little girl, about 8 years old, I created my first pattern with my mom. Designing is in my genes", says Grandma Roxey. Alicia Worden also comes from a family of artists and designers. "My grandmother sewed custom wedding gowns in New York City. My mother was also very artistic. I went to college for art and came out with a fashion design degree," she says. "It's something I definitely inherited". The love, tradition, and originality in each costume express just what Roxey Ballet's Nutcracker is all about. Roxey Ballet's 22nd Annual Holiday Classic Nutcracker runs from November 26 to December 5 at The College of New Jersey's Kendall Theatre. For more information, visit www.roxeyballet.org/nutcracker.

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