When the last sequin is secured, the final ribbon tied, and the mannequin is fitted into her costume, there is one more step—preparing the figure for display. Each mannequin stands on a custom-made wooden base, and attaching him or her to that base involves precise drilling into the dancer’s feet and into the wooden base, then carefully inserting long steel rods into both, to create near invisible support. The mannequin is then positioned to suggest a dance position or a fashion pose, using the original photograph of Pavlova for reference. Museum wax, a hot glue gun, darning needles, fishing line, and other more esoteric materials are all called into play to ensure that the mannequin is held rigidly but nearly imperceptibly in place.
The other key element of each display is a small acrylic double-picture frame. In one opening is a 4″x6″ photo of Pavlova in the costume that’s being shown, and in the other I’ve prepared written information to put the piece into historical context. This photo and written material have been drawn from my extensive research on Pavlova and her times. My reason for adding this additional element to the display is to elevate the Pavlova Project from a just a lovely visual experience to an educational tool that informs the viewer about this fascinating, historically important woman.