CriticalDance Forum

Dance costume wasteland
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Author:  Basheva [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 10:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

So, then this silly woman asks herself - why oh why are dancers dressed in black against a black back drop? <P>I can understand productions run by inexperienced people making this mistake....but something like the Live From Lincoln Center productions were certainly done by professionals. <P>It's so puzzling to see the same mistake (in my opinion) made again and again.

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Well, I suspect that the production was a glimmer in the artistic collaborative team long before Live From Lincoln Center got it. And sometime black and black are called for...or at least, in this production they must have had some reason for it.<BR>

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Because:<P>A. The producers want the ambience created by having a live audience.<P>B. a separate run-through for video is very expensive, especially in NY. Besides the extra money for rent and stagehands (this would probably be thousands of dollars, since the rate goes up if there's video involved), you have union dancers whose contract limits the number of performances they can be required to give each week -- so the video shoot <I>replaces</I> (rather than serves in addition to) a performance which would have a paying audience.<P>------------------<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<BR>"Shang-a-lang, feel the <I>sturm und drang</I> in the air!"<BR>Online portfolio: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited April 25, 2001).]

Author:  Basheva [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 1:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Just suppose I was an artistic director of a major company and I was asked to arrange an evening of dance for a live audience that would also be televised at the same time.<P>It seems to me, ignorant as I am, that I would sit down with my staff - costumers, lighting designers, set designers, ballet mistress/masters, choreographers, etc., and together we would determine what program would be best to suit the performance which is seen simultaneously by the live audience and the tv audience.<P>The lighting director with his/her experience would most probably bring to my attention the difficulties of lighting this event since it is for both. If the extant costume for the male dancer/s is black and my backdrop is black - is it that difficult to change one or the other?<P>Many times I have seen where it is a single male - often the star dancer - who is in black. How difficult can it be to have him wear some other color? white? silver? blue? tan? beige? <P>ok - I know that in my ignorance I am probably overlooking something here, - but what?

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 3:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

This is why I always discourage my clients from black. Then none of these issues will come up in the future.<P>On this TV line. When the SF Opera televised " Streetcar Named Desire", they had to change all of the light levels and put some different costumes on made just for the taping. They have the luxury of doing these things. However, some scenes still looked awful. I don't think there is anyway to make live performances look good on TV.<P>But back to the original question. Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can quietly shift the tide?

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 4:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Well, Basheva, in some ways you're right and in other ways you're. . .er. . .um. . .less right than usual.<P>If the costume is one element of an overall design (as it should be), the costume designer may not welcome what s/he sees as an arbitrary suggestion that it be changed. I know that as a lighting designer, I work very hard to set the lights at what I feel is the appropriate intensity and balance for each moment of the piece as seen by the human eye; I would not take kindly to the suggestion that we "just make it a little brighter".<P>The solution: People need to take the attitude that "If we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it right". Have a separate video shoot, with the light levels adjusted so that the image on the screen looks the same as the way the live audience perceived it. Until video gear gets a lot better (and it <I>is</I> getting better), that's the only way.<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited April 26, 2001).]

Author:  Basheva [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Thank you Salzberg. That is the first time anyone ever explained it in a coherent fashion. And thank you, too, LMCTech.<P><BR>

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

A timely topic....<P>One of our dancers was selected to create a piece on two other company members. And today she went shopping for costumes.<P>And what did girlfriend come back with? Black pants and top. <P>And we had been discussing doing this work against black velour instead of a cyc. I said to her I think we should still look at doing it aainst the black, and she said - really? even though I bought black? <P>I just don't think it is a cyc piece<P>And away we go LOL<BR>

Author:  Marie [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 7:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

I'm disheartened. I just came home from a show of pajamas. Ok, they weren't really pajamas, but cotton/lycra tops and pants of various sand colours, except for the black tank top on one dancer out of 5. And the clothes were attributed in the program to someone--who may be the person who went out and BOUGHT them, but certainly didn't design them (I recognized the tag on one of the tops as a shirt made by a client I designed a website for). However, there was a large flat screen tv on stage though and a large fish tank sized glass box made for the work that was used only at the very beginning of the piece. And there was a commissioned musical score... I should say that this show was choreographed by a senior artist who has management, so it wasn't a young 'un with no budget or experience. Sigh.

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 10:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

What, Marie?<P>No chair?

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

As Barb and a few others here know, it's pretty common for dance companies to use a black scrim downstage of the cyc lights, so that the cyc can be lit behind it. This allows you to "fade to black" and also keeps stray light off the cyc, resulting in very saturated colors.<P>When dealing with the black-on-black issue, I usually bring my blue ground row (those are the lights on the floor, pointing up at the cyc) up to about 40%. With the scrim in place, it still plays as "black", but grants a significant level of relief.<P>This wouldn't work for video, though.<BR>

Author:  Priscilla [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 11:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

At the University where I spend my time it was absolutely tremendous the time our Department head (who is also High Queen of the Costumes) spent time with us after a show we'd done. She put on the video of our show and all of the choreographers were there as she tactfully instructed us on where we'd been right and where we'd missed the boat. Even just that little bit of understanding helped. None of us that are involved in the dance program are seeking Theater degrees, so we haven't had to take these courses. It helped to be sat down and asked "why do you bother to make beautiful choreography if you're going to put your dancers in really baggy clothes that hide what they're doing?" and to be told "if her shirt is bright red and shiny and no one else's is - it looks like she's someone special".

Author:  Whirlwind [ Sat Apr 28, 2001 11:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Ok, I've read the complaints and exasperations(?) which LMCtech Image has had a chance to voice. Yes these problems exist. We can name many reasons for this which include budjet, lack of proper time management, and an incomplete knowledge as to how all aspects of the production work. It is too often that choreographers can get lost in the process of making the physical movements of the dance and lose sight of the fact that there are other technical aspects which need the same amount of thought and planning in order to produce a professional looking show. I strongly encourage all choreographers and dancers to take the time and spend the effort to learn more about ALL aspects of the production. <P>As to Solutions:<BR> I leave it to LMCtech in regards to Pajamas.<P> In regards to Black However...<BR>If I get a chance to talk color with a costume designer (CD) I will try to steer them away from black towards a deep shade of some other colors (brown, purple, green,...). This color will depend of course on other motivations within the choreography, but it should have some connection. This will be extremely important to the lighting designer (LD). That being said, the CD and LD should be in comunication very early on in the process.<P>I'm sure I missed something that I wanted to say, but there's time enough for that later. Anyway...

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Apr 29, 2001 3:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Thanks for your comments, Whirlwind, and welcome to Critical Dance.<P>We don't often see a rigger/dancer.<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Apr 29, 2001 5:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Let me also warmly welcome you, Whirlwind, to criticaldance. Great to have you join us.

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