Thirty-six years ago, Pacific Northwest Ballet, then under the direction of Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, was mounting a new ballet by Vincente Nebrada, an internationally known choreographer. New costumes were needed, as well as an extra pair of capable hands to sew them. Enter Larae Hascall, whose own mother had taught her to sew when she was a girl growing up in Spokane.

Hascall took on the project at PNB in 1983, and subsequently was hired on permanently. When PNB’s then-costume shop manager, Mark Zappone, left for Europe a few years later, the company promoted her to fill his shoes.

She’s worn them ever since.

Russell and Stowell decided to embark on new sets and costumes for George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in 1997. The founding PNB directors brought this ballet into the company’s repertory in 1985, and during the next decade the Balanchine Trust gave them permission to redesign it. They chose Tony-award winning designer Martin Pakledinaz to design both the sets and costumes.

Hascall led her shop in creating all new costumes for a cast that required the whole company, as well as students from PNB school — 126 roles in total.

Hascall has fond memories of Pakledinaz and working with him on this production.

“He did a lot of research on the [Northwest’s] flora and fauna. His designs were driven by the Pacific Northwest,” she said. “… He was very generous in his teaching. He taught me more than any other designer.”

Hascall had also worked with him on Kent Stowell’s “Cinderella” in 1994.

The next season at PNB (1997-98) was its 25th anniversary, and also Hascall’s most challenging. Not only was she managing the costume shop, she was also designing costumes at the time. And Stowell and Russell had programmed all new ballets — 15 of them.

“Our 25th anniversary season was a high point in the early life of PNB. Larae was a vital player in making an entire season of new works possible,” Russell writes in an email. “As a tower of strength and good humor, she was the calm center of relentless activity. Sometimes around the clock, she supervised and encouraged nervous dance artists and exhausted costume shop artisans, who never gave up believing they could achieve the virtually impossible. Twenty-one years later, we hope she still feels proud of the amazing results.”

There have been other busy times since then, but nothing quite approached costuming 15 new ballets over nine months for PNB’s silver anniversary season, Hascall said. 

With just two more programs this season, she is looking forward to what’s to come in retirement. She and her husband, who’s also now retired, became grandparents last December, so babysitting is on her list of priorities. Hascall is also interested in volunteering with nonprofit organizations in her neighborhood, such as Woodland Park Zoo. There hasn’t been time for this given a busy work life.

“Larae and I first worked together for PNB when we were just ‘kids,’” said costume designer Mark Zappone, who now has his own studio in SODO. “…Then she took over and has maintained the highest aesthetic and construction qualities the ballet world has ever seen. My hat has been off to this genuine, kind and talented friend ever since.”

Hascall will be missed at PNB, but her enormous legacy will dance on.

Join Hascall and PNB audience education manager Doug Fullington for a conversation about Martin Pakledinaz’ scenic design and costumes at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11. Attend the hour-long discussion only or also stay for the dress rehearsal. Tickets can be purchased through the PNB Box Office at -206-441-2424. 

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs April 12-21 at McCaw Hall.