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Nathaniel Hathaway: Broadway wig supervisor.

In the Broadway production Nice Work If You Can Get It, there is a time-period polish on everything from the choreography to the wigs. The bobs, pin curls and finger waves of the 1920s are stylized but move naturally, thanks to wig supervisor Nathaniel Hathaway and his background in ballet. "Ballet carries through to everything you do: A commitment to get results, to tinker until reach your goal," he says. "And you understand line, movement and drape, and that translates to hair and clothing. You know: This is how arabesque looks. This is how the movement of hair should look."

Though Hathaway had enough potential as a dancer to study on scholarship at North Carolina School of the Arts, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and to perform with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, he had to accept that he'd never achieve his dream of dancing principal roles. His transition moment came during ballet class. "I was doing brise vole repeatedly," he recalls. "The teacher said to me, 'Your brise won't ever look the way you want. You don't have those feet or legs.' He was right. I was sad, but also relieved."

It was pointe shoe fitting that set Hathaway on the path to wigs. Working with Capezio/Ballet Makers, he became known for custom alterations. "I had a knack from working with many partners who had less-than-perfect feet at Dance Theatre of Harlem." He was eventually hired as a dresser and after sewing classes and earning a cosmetology license he nabbed a job working with Tony Curtis in a tour of Some Like It Hot.

"I have the ability to take command," he says, "which I think is natural for ballet dancers, and important as a supervisor." He subbed for supervisors at a variety of Broadway shows until he booked a show with Brooke Shields; a slew of gigs followed.

Hathaway explains his job this way: "You're the go-between for the wig designer, director and stars. You mesh all the information from these sources plus your research to make the right look happen. I think that ability to tinker until it's right is a dancer's perspective."

Being flexible to change, and realistically aligning goals with abilities, is essential, he says, to both success and happiness. "Know who you are as a performer and what's truly accessible to you," he advises. "If you aren't getting what you want, adapt and move on. We all have so many things to offer!"


Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.

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Author:Kay, Lauren
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 1, 2012
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