CriticalDance Forum

Dance costume wasteland
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Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Apr 19, 2001 2:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Dance costume wasteland

Maybe it's just here in the SF Bay Area, maybe not. I'd like to here from those of you all over.<P>Is it just my imagination or is everyone wearing there pajamas on the modern dance stage? You as choreographers take the time, money and effort to hire a lighting designer, but not a costume designer. And all I see are ugly baggy ill-fitting unflattering clothes that have no business being on a stage. OR I see thift shop mix and match with no connection to the choreography or the other clothes on stage. PLEASE PEOPLE, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL! We see things you do not, because we are trained to see them.<P>Any comments? Is this just my pet peeve? Does this bug anyone else?

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Apr 19, 2001 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

LMCtech, I'm with you. However, some choreographers can't afford professionals, so I cut them some slack.<P>It would be neat though to see some kind of community interaction whereby individuals sponsor the designs. "Costume design made possible by Sandra and Alex Manninger." "Sound design supported by JW Butznick Grocery Store."

Author:  Marie [ Fri Apr 20, 2001 7:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

That's a good idea Azlan, it's one way to bring the community into the theatre.<P>Most choreographers would like to hire a costume designer and it usually does come down to money--lack of it, that is... <P>But on the flip side, I find it interesting that there are choreographers out there who work in such a visual medium but have little interest in costuming and would leave it totally up to the designer if they did have the cash. This applies to other visual aspects of the presentation such as the lights and sets. It seems to me that there are two kinds of choreographers, those with a strong kinesthetic sense of presentation and those who visualize in a wider scope. I know I have worked with choreographers who are far more interested in the process than the product (who would be the former) and those who consider the choreography to be but one element of the production. The former usually work well in a production team, the latter tend to fight for their vision with those they must rely on to bring it to fruition, lol.<BR>

Author:  LMCtech [ Sat Apr 21, 2001 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

As for the money issue: I like the sponsorship idea, but ther are other ways. I have bartered my services for free dance classes and pilates sessions.<P>I think part of the problem is that some choreographers think (especially female choreographers)," I can dress myself, therfore I can dress my dancers." This can lead to problems. I am not saying this as a generalization, because I have seen many lovely exceptions ( Lea Wolf and Monique Jenkinson in particular).<P>There is also this problem. You finally have the money to hire a costume designer. S/he shows up and you talk. You wait forever to get something. When you do get something to try on, they are completely unusuable because they look great but the dancers can't move in them. You ask the designer what they can do, and s/he is at a loss because they have never dressed dancers nor have they ever taken a dance class so they would know what you are talking about. This could lead a choreographer to never hire a costume designer again. A frustrating situation and from what I have heard not an uncommon one.

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Apr 23, 2001 4:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

And, for HEAVEN SAKES DO THEY ALWAYS HAVE TO BE BLACK?!?<P><I>Okay, I feel better</I>

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Apr 23, 2001 4:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

I should add, that pajamas are alive and well in Pittsburgh; and judging by stuff I've seen, in all of Pennsylvania.

Author:  trina [ Mon Apr 23, 2001 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Puleeezze-Seattle wins the "ugly award" for costumes. I'm not talking about the "cutting edge, up and coming" choregraphers, I'm talking established, grant-winning, "look Ma, I made it" choreographers!! Ugly, shin-kicking boots, garish, scary color combos, ripped underwear over puke green leotards, fish net stockings (no they're not doing tap dancing!)...well you get the picture. Help, is this a "generational issue", a grunge thing (I thought that was over?),a feminist thing (I'm a feminist, so please, no nasty cards and letters folks) or WHAT THE HECK IS THE DEAL? It's like they spend hours in front of a mirror trying to pick the most unflattering, bizarre, scary outfits??? Whew, I'm done, I feel better now!!!Lololol

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Apr 23, 2001 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Image <P>Didy Veldman's '7 Deadly Sins' for Rambert<P><BR>This is my candidate for the ugliest costume of all time. Yes the skirts were transparent plastic. But this was a pro job not a DIY exercise. <P>Apart from the cossies the work was 'not Ms Veldman's strongest piece'. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited April 24, 2001).]

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Apr 24, 2001 2:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Having a pro designer does not guarantee that you'll have good costumes, sets, and lighting; it just increases the chance.<P>As to why some choreographers (even those who could afford it) don't bother to hire pros, I've thought a lot about this over the years (usually while trying desperately to salvage a show with bad costumes and sets *). Sometimes, choreographers will hire a lighting designer but not a costume designer because they <B>know</B> that they know nothing about lights -- but <I>anyone</I> can pick out clothes, right? (and to hell with concepts such as line, color symbolism, and color teaming). Sometimes they give short shrift to all design disciplines because they don't truly understand the difference between working in a theatre and working in a studio. Sometimes they deliberately choose to work in a small, poorly-equipped black box theater rather than in a well-equipped house in which their works could be fully produced, because they feel intimidated by the larger venue -- there are too many elements that they don't understand and they have to trust other people. I've seen designers hired for reasons other than competence ("He's such a nice guy", or my <I>least</I> favorite reason for selecting a lightng designer: "He does lighting for Channel 2!").<P>And, frankly, sometimes they just have bad taste.<P><BR>* You have <I>no</I> idea how much the perceived quality of the lighting can be affected by sets and costumes.<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>

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Apr 24, 2001 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

I'm with you Babs and salz. I agree on all counts. I think many costume designers are really glorified Fashion Institute grads ( no offense I've seen some great things come out of FI grads) who know NOTHING about theater. I agree that many choreographers think that any street clothes can go on stage, which they can't and a good designer knows the difference. I recently saw a piece here in SF which had decent costumes with a few problems, but the problems were glaringly obvious to a trained eye. I think some designers becaome TOO tied to the concept and won't compromise when it is obvious a costume makes the dancer look bad or overcomes the entire piece.<P>As for the black...I try to steer all of my clients away from black entirely. My husbands a LD, maybe he's rubbed off on me a little.

Author:  BabsLights [ Tue Apr 24, 2001 1:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

I had no idea there were so many male lighting designers! Wow!<P>

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Apr 24, 2001 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

Hey, what's wrong with black? I've seen some sexy black outfits on both male and female dancers!

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

When black-clad dancers are placed in front of a black background, they tend to sort of fade into it.<P><BR>It takes a lot of equipment and a brilliant lighting designer such as Babs or (ahem) myself to prevent that from happening.<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 5:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

As those of you know who have read my frequent moanings and groanings about putting black clad dancers in front of a black back drop know, this is my bane of banes.<P>However, I would like to take it a step further. If the dancers are costumed in black, against a black backdrop, and then brilliantly lit (of course by crtiicaldance's resident lighting experts LOL), BUT - then the production is subsequently televised - the scene changes quite a bit.<P>I remember that happening in some of the "Live from Lincoln Center" productions. I got the feeling that for the theater audience it was probably lit sufficiently - but not for television. And, yet they knew it would be televised.<P>I often wondered, don't these folks ever look at how it comes across on the television screen to the viewer at home? But production after production seemed to have this problem. And I still see it happening to this day.<P>But, then I am not an expert in this field - and perhaps it is impossible to adequately light in such a situation. Therefore, it would seem that a costume/back drop change would be in order.<P>Your thoughts?

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Apr 25, 2001 6:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance costume wasteland

It's almost impossible to light dance well for video and for the naked eye simultaneously, especially under such extreme conditions as black costumes against a black backdrop.<P>The solution is to have a separate video shoot, with the levels adjusted appropriately.<BR>

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