Artist Clothing – OutSmart Magazine

Zach Paugh (photos by Alex Rosa for OutSmart magazine)

ZHouston Ballet costume shop manager ach Paugh is a newcomer to Houston, originally brought here out of love and the pandemic.

Paugh met her boyfriend on a gay Atlantis cruise, just months before COVID-19 shut down everything. At the time, Paugh was working for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, but the pandemic effectively put an end to his work.

“Not knowing what was going to happen, I decided, ‘Hey, let me sleep with the guy I’m dating,'” Paugh recalled of his decision to make the two-day trip to Houston . The two have been together ever since.

Paugh, of Polish and Filipino descent, is the son of two Air Force members. He was born in California City, California, near Edwards Air Force Base, and spent most of his childhood in Goodyear, Arizona. In high school, he became involved in theater, primarily as a performer. He had made exactly one costume at some point before enrolling at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, where he was encouraged to try his hand at costume.

When Paugh got his bachelor’s degree in costume design and construction, he landed an internship at Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. After six months of work on their Zarkana production, he moved to the KA Circus show that was also in Vegas. He worked there for four years until the pandemic shut him down.

He continues his association with the Cirque family through an annual fundraising event called Circus Couture, with proceeds going to Cure 4 the Kids Foundation. A wide range of designers and artists, many from Cirque, donate their talents to this foundation each year. “Fashion, art, circus, those are the hashtags for the event,” says Paugh.

“I’ve been very lucky in my career path,” he admits. “I’m 29, and hitting Cirque right out of college was a huge deal.”

Paugh started at Houston Ballet in June 2021, so he stayed in Houston for about a year before landing a full-time job in his chosen field. He describes becoming a costume shop manager as the next step in his career. “I took this job to understand the costume and backstage management side,” he explains. “TO KAit was more edits—someone running in the middle of the show with a broken zipper. Alright, how long do you have? Five minutes? Let me remove the zipper and add a new one. There you go, you’re ready to go. This kind of controlled chaos may not be his everyday life anymore, but it is no less busy.

For example, for their next cover of The sylph, a 1980s production, Paugh must pull the costumes from storage to decide what repairs to make and compare them to old design drawings or production photos to keep them true to the designer’s original intent. Once he evaluates the costumes, he works out the work schedule and assignments in the shop to get it all done. In this program, there are fittings with the dancers and meetings with other production staff.

What everyone may not know is that when a Houston Ballet production has multiple casts, the same costume must be worn by everyone dancing the same character. “It’s very exciting when you get a show with four actors and we have a costume for six different people, and they’re all different sizes,” Paugh said. “We don’t have the budget or the time to give everyone their own costume, so there’s a lot of sharing. Sometimes it’s just one or two suits, and you make it work.

Paugh also has experience as a drag performer, something he has yet to do in Houston. “I’ve looked into it, but right now, starting this position with ballet and having the majority of my drag outfits still in Las Vegas, I’m waiting to be more settled and possibly make an appearance. !”

As he enjoys his work at the ballet and contemplates his first drag performance in Houston, he has another important goal to think about. “At the end of the day, I would really like to work on spacesuits,” he says. Yes, space suits, as in NASA, Space X and Axiom Space astronauts. “I was thinking, how can I merge my love for star wars and what do I do now? He answers his own question as if a light bulb appeared above his head. “Wait, someone has to make the spacesuits!” One of his pandemic activities was taking a course on aerospace structures and materials through edX, an online training center.

From the circus to the ballet to the drag scene and finally to space, Paugh lets nothing get in his way as he literally reaches for the stars.

For more information, visit houstonballet.org.

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