Nikitin Creates a Costume Wonderland for Cirque Dreams Holidaze

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From the creators of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy and director Neil Goldberg comes a holiday show for the whole family. With more than 20 acts, 30 performers and 300 unique costumes, Cirque Dreams Holidaze has something for everyone and is sure to amaze.

Currently in its seventh season, Cirque Dreams Holidaze brings together snowmen, penguins, angels, reindeer, toy soldiers and Santa to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Lenora Taylor Nikitin, head costume designer for the show, said that there are more than 300 unique costumes in the show.

Nikitin is no stranger to designing costumes for Cirque shows. She started her career as a costume designer more than 20 years ago at a theme park in Virginia, and has been with Cirque for the past
10 years.

“I’ve been sewing since I was six; my mother taught me how to sew,” Said Nikitin. “After I graduated college, I had a lot of friends that were auditioning to work at a theme park. I saw that they needed a costume designer, so I figured I would give it a try. And now I’ve been working with Cirque for nearly
10 years.”

Nikitin was the head costume designer for Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy before she began her work with Holidaze. She was nominated for American Theatre Wing Best Costume Design for Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which had about 200 costumes. The costumes take anywhere from six hours to three weeks to create. Nikitin has a full team of costume designers to help her, as well as a fully operational costume shop on site.

“Each year I get to go to New York and pick out everything for the year’s costumes. We buy the fabric, the threads, the crystals, everything we could possibly need for each show. It helps to have a costume shop on site and not have to go out looking for fabric when I need to make or alter a costume,”
she said.

The costume designing process requires a lot of communication and collaboration. When a new costume is needed, Nikitin collaborates with her boss to create something that works for the character as well as the performer. For Cirque Dreams Holidaze, each character is meant to represent an ornament on a Christmas tree.

“I design each costume specifically for the performer. I have to consider what the character is supposed to represent, as well as the performers needs,” said Nikitin. “Some of them need cutouts in their costumes in order to perform. And I’m constantly making tweaks to the costumes to make things easier for the performers. They evolve as I create them.”

The ice queen, one of the stars of the show, was the most elaborate costume, as well as Nikitin’s favorite to make.

“The ice queen took us over three weeks to create. She has this long, beautiful dress, and we hand-embroidered the entire thing. We brought in stitchers and beaders to help. It took us over a week to embroider the collar alone,” she said.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze will run from Thursday, Dec. 17 through Dec. 19 in the Cobb Great Hall at Wharton Center. Tickets to see Cirque Dreams Holidaze are available now and can be purchased online at or in person at the Wharton Center Ticket Office. Michigan State University students can purchase tickets to the show for $25 with a valid student ID.


Brittney Urich is a senior professional writing major specializing in marketing and public relations. She is an avid traveler, sports enthusiast and animal lover. When she’s not blogging or reading, she can usually be found outside.


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