Celia Auclair doesn’t know which came first, the dance or the tutus. All she knows is that when she and others wear her colourful, ruffled creations they want to express themselves through dancing of all kinds.
Auclair, who has been a tree planter and a cook, started sewing for her three children when they were younger and found herself fascinated by fabric, colour and pattern.
“I’m passionate about recycling and repurposing but I buy new fabric as well because the tutus take so much,” she said from her sewing studio which has taken over the living room and dining room of her home, the tutus everywhere like butterflies. “A few years ago I started going to festivals where I noticed that people were dressing up more. I think people want to have more pretty and playful things because our everyday clothes can be kind of dull. Many of us don’t have traditional cultural costumes and I think we miss that. People of all ages, women and men, are expressing themselves more through their clothes.
“I have always liked to dress up and invented games for the children where they could dress up. I have a pretty good tickle trunk with more then 40 wigs and lots of clothes.”
Her tutus are made of silks, satins, chiffons and cotton, rather than the traditional tulle used for classical ballet tutus. She does conscious dancing, which is sometimes described as meditative movement.
“I found my own way to conscious dancing, it is an awakening, a way to remove judgment and interact with the music and the self. I find my sewing is meditative as well. It can take a long time to make each tutu and while I am making one, my mind just goes on thinking of the ways I can put colours and fabrics together to make the next one.”
She has made more than 500 tutus, very few of them the same, and still has lots of ideas she wants to try.
“People love the creativity of costumes. You can let go and create a new persona which might be closer to who you really are. I love the energy when I see people enjoy the things I make and their pleasure at being creative with them. That keeps me going,” she said. “People tell me that when they put on a tutu it frees them, lets them open up. I can’t dance without a tutu. I say that I didn’t really choose tutus, they chose me.”
Auclair had been wanting to make a business of her love of tutus for several years and had been collecting the fabric and equipment. She had been selling tutus at festivals and last year she found the courage to save some money, quit her job and start making tutus full time.
“It changed my life. It’s my dream come true to be able to make a living at something that feeds my soul. I’m always trying new things. I have been having tutu house parties and cater them. Women love being able to try the tutus on at home.”
Auclair joins the other vendors who are living their dreams doing what they love at Creative Chaos.
The 36th annual Creative Chaos crafts fair takes place Friday (10 a.m.-9 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m.- 6 p.m.) and June 5 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.). at the Vernon Recreation Complex. There will be more than 200 vendors with a variety of arts and crafts, specialty food products, a creative activities section, live entertainment and a food court. Okanagan Landing school is this year’s recipient of the Creative Chaos Student’s Showcase award and will have student art work on display as well as receiving $500 to the PAC. Admission is free but people are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Food Bank. For more information see www.creativechaoscrafts.com.