Notes by Claudia Potamkin: Miami City Ballet Fashions Lifesaving Masks for Local Hospitals

MCB's costume department responds to Covid-19 with cheerful creations

MCB Costume Director Eleanor Wolfe

When the Miami City Ballet closed its doors due to Covid19 one month ago, MCB Costume Director Eleanor Wolfe knew that her skill set would come in handy in support of a community that has championed the ballet troupe for decades. With a shortage of protective masks at local hospitals, Wolfe researched a pattern for face masks, and sought and received approval for the design from Dr. Chad Perlyn, Pediatric Surgeon and director of Operating Rooms at Nicklaus Childrens’ Hospital. Within days, the talented and creative costume department of MCB – consisting of Ricardo Asturias, Ibis Hernandez, Julia Villa Lobos and Carmen Wilson – began producing masks.

Headband to protect the ears for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Staff

“It has never been lost on me that sewing is a valuable skill,” says Wolfe. “That it would become a lifesaving one is humbling at least and motivating at best.”

The bright and colorful prints being used are designed to be a cheerful sight for the children being treated.

“There is a great expression that says, ‘dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another,'” says Dr. Perlyn, expressing his gratitude. “Their efforts to turn their costume shop into a mask factory is a dance from the heart.”

Wolfe furnished the requisite tightly woven cotton knit fabric from her own personal stash and was also able to farm loads of t-shirts belonging to the Miami City ballet from years past.

Dr. Chad Perlyn, Pediatric Surgeon and director of Operating Rooms at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

“Costumers tend to keep extensive collections of their own fabric and having worked in NY during 911, my work ethic is such that I am motivated to help out where I can,” says Wolfe.

Nicklaus Children’s was the natural choice to receive the masks as MCB has been collaborating with them on various dance medicine related initiatives since last year. Jay and Lisa Massirman were instrumental in the beginnings of this collaboration, with Jay and Lisa sitting on the Nicklaus Childrens’ Health Systems board and the MCB board respectively.

In addition to providing masks to MCB staff, dancers, donors and trustees, MCB has since begun distributing the masks to Joe DiMaggio hospital in Broward, as well. With close to 400 masks having been fashioned and the dance company closed until further notice, Wolfe cannot anticipate the number of masks that will be created in all, but will continue production of these masks as long as they are needed. Anyone wishing to contribute to the initiative can call the MCB office at 305-929-7000.