Born in Petone, Kristian Fredrikson was one of Australasia’s most esteemed designers for dance who created opulent costumes for both the New Zealand and Australian ballet companies. From The Dowse collection, a new exhibition called Bedazzled, 26 November 2011- 4 March 2012, presents over 25 costumes designed for The Royal New Zealand Ballet as well as dozens of his exquisite drawings.
Bedazzled includes costumes and drawings from nine Royal New Zealand Ballet productions. Highlights include Cinderella’s ball dress, Princess Odile’s tutu from Swan Lake, the phantoms from A Christmas Carol and the brightly patterned chorus from A Servant of Two Masters. The show offers a detailed look at Fredrikson’s designs, acclaimed for their sumptuous, jewel-like qualities, hidden meanings and underlying symbolism. Fredrikson understood the role costumes play in revealing the narratives of the ballet and the complexities of the characters on stage. His eye for detail, use of colour, decadent material choices and glittering embellishments infused the ballets with life, blurring the lines between dancer and costume.
From saris to feathers, silky satin and ripped linen rags, fabric formed the foundation of his work. Fredrikson famously collected material wherever he went, from second-hand shops and the like, transforming it into part of an exquisite costume. His extravagant use of decoration; lace, sequins, diamantes, as well as imagery, motifs and symbolism, formed the signature inherent in his design.
The Dowse holds the largest collection of Royal New Zealand Ballet costumes in the country with over 70 of Fredrikson’s drawings and garments from ten ballets gifted. The relationship between the two organisations has flourished since The Dowse’s 2003 exhibition Inside the Royal Wardrobe, which toured nationally in 2004. Read more about the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s gifting of costumes to The Dowse. The Royal New Zealand Ballet and The Dowse are also collaborating on a series of lively public events to complement Bedazzled over summer.
Kristian Fredrikson was born in 1940 in Petone as Kristian Adrian Sams, son of a Danish merchant seaman and his British born wife. He studied design in Wellington and was influenced by the work of English stage designers including Leslie Hurry and Oliver Messel. In the 1960s, he created his first designs for ballet, including The Winter Garden. In 1963, while the Australian Ballet was on tour in New Zealand, Fredrikson met Peggy van Praagh who invited him to move to Australia to design Aurora's Wedding. Over the next 40 years, he designed for The Australian Ballet, The Sydney Dance Company and The Melbourne Theatre Company, while remaining a loyal supporter of and designer for The Royal New Zealand Ballet. During this time, Fredrikson developed acclaimed partnerships with choreographer Graeme Murphy and director George Ogilvie.
Fredrikson has received many awards including Erik Design Awards, Green Room Awards and in 1999 he won the Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance. In 2003 his work on Swan Lake earned a Helpmann Award. He died in Sydney in November 2005.
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