Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Beauty and the Beast tours the UK in Autumn 2014. Here’s a detailed look at the titular terror from top to toe!

1. Face: The Beast’s mask is made of a special foam and fits the dancer like a second skin. Each dancer performing the role has an individual mask created, moulded specifically to the contours of their face.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast

2. Eyes: For the first ever performances of the ballet in 2003, many of the costumes were being created at the same time as the first photographic artwork was being taken. For the posters, an image was obviously needed of someone in the Beast’s mask, only recently completed. Rather than call one of the dancers out of rehearsals for the ballet, however, Director David Bintley stepped into the role himself, and it is his own eyes you may have seen peering out at you through the Beast’s face!

3. Muscles: In creating the look of the costume, designer Philip Prowse took elements from bears, wolves and other creatures. Says David: ‘The Beast is not specifically this kind of animal or that kind of animal, but another thing to a human being, and that’s what I think is Belle’s visual repulsion; he represents a threat to her humanity.’

Beauty being lifted by the Beast

4. Hide: The ‘skin’ of the Beast’s costume is made from a velour-like material, which restricts the dancers’ movements as little as possible, and yet still moves seamlessly like the hide of a real animal. Despite being one of the most dramatic characters in the Birmingham Royal Ballet repertory, the costume is one of the quickest to get into during preparations for each performance, as the all-in-one mask nicely eliminates the need for lengthy wardrobe sessions in Hair and Make-Up!

5. Waist: When the ballet made its debut in 2003, the Beast’s costume was so hot on the inside that the dancer performing the role lost half a stone on the opening night! Slight changes have been made since, however, meaning the cast will still have to hit the gym to stay in shape!

The Beast leaping

6. Feet: At the end of the story, the Beast is eventually transformed back into the prince, calling for a quick change on the part of the dancer. In the short space of time, there isn’t enough time to secure ballet pumps once the Beast’s boots have been removed, and they would be too large to wear underneath, so the dancer is left barefoot for the final pas de deux.

7. Name: David says he was intrigued by idea of calling people ‘beastly’ whenever they display characteristics such as pride, and malice; traits actually fairly unique to humans, rather than the animal kingdom. ‘People are more ‘beastly’ than animals are,’ he says. ‘We have a funny way of viewing things; if you call someone ‘beastly’ it’s not meant as a compliment, but to be beastly means to be like a beast, an animal. That is why the prince is turned into a beast, because he is arrogant, cruel, and as a human would say…beastly.’

Click here for details of all forthcoming performances of Beauty and the Beast.

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