dirac

Costumes: the good, the bad, and the ugly

59 posts in this topic

My biggest costume problem is with Spectre of the Rose. There is nothing enchanting or beautiful or resembling a rose on that costume. The tank top emphasises the muscles and the head cap most of the times looks like auntie's diving cap from the fifties. I realise that most people must not agree with me, since the costume is reproduced time and again but it almost ruins Spectre for me.

I’m inclined to agree, chris217. But I suspect it’s too famous to do away with.

I’ll never forget Steve Martin wearing it for a Saturday Night Live sketch, with Gilda Radner. He didn’t look bad, either. :crying:

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How did I miss Steve Martin in a "Spectre" costume? :D Manuel Legris in that costume and role.... :(

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I;'m with you, GIna--

Manuel Legris looked competely natural and absolutely beautiful in that Spectre costume, spinning, standing still, twirling his arms overhead, or doing cabrioles....

What art it must take to make all that look unaffected and natural. He's da bomb.....

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To me, a bad costume (or bad costumes) means the start of a bad performance. It can only go down-hill from there. Some great costumes I've seen are "La Fille mal Gardee" by the Australian ballet (the chicken costumes are so real!)

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Lately, the most beautiful costumes I've seen are in Eifman's 'Anna Karenina.'

I agree re the Bjornsen 'Beauty' designs. The scenery gave me the perspective of looking up through a manhole in the street. It totally distorted the dancers'

line and the choreography. How can I forget Catalabutte's black stilettos and Aurora's bedchamber? Her bed was a slide; she slid down to the floor after being kissed. Other scenery & costumes I've never cared for: Dowell's Act 3 & all of Grigorovich's 'Swan Lake' & 'Romeo & Juliet,' the Lyon Ballet's 'Cinderella' ('Chucky Goes To The Ballet'), and Alla Mikhailchenko's black leather s & m Odile tutu.

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Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale, not real life. It represents an ideal, not the way things really are. That is why everything is restored to perfect harmony in Act III.

NYCB wore some truly hideous costumes for the ballet Twyla Tharp choreographed to Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

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I hate it when tutu waists are too high. A tutu is a rather weird costume to begin with and it's hard to wear them well. But when the waist is high, she just looks stumpy. It's better if the skirt sits a little lower. I think it was in Midsummer Night's Dream, Alessandra Ferri's romantic tutu was very high and it kind of ruined everything. And she is drop-dead gorgeous, so it was a shame.

I also don't like tutus that are really huge stiff platters. I like the ones that are a little smaller in diameter and a little bit floppy so that the dancer's torso flows into the skirt smoothly while still maintaining the ballerina look.

On the other hand, my favorite tutus are the red Don Q ones. I also am a sucker for the Indian costumes from Bayadere. Very unique for a ballet.

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On the other hand, my favorite tutus are the red Don Q ones.

Any particular production, silvery_stars? (Great name, by the way!)
I also am a sucker for the Indian costumes from Bayadere.  Very unique for a ballet.
I'm actually getting awfully tired of women's bare midriffs. Most of today's dancers are so thin that their bony ribs tend to be the focus of attention, and to an unflattering effect. But I enjoy harem pants, especially when they drape softly and move well.

:D Welcome to BalletTalk, silvery_stars! I hope you'll introduce yourself on our Welcome Page.

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I also don't like tutus that are really huge stiff platters.

I wonder: where did that style originate? And why? I guess I'm used to the look, but a non-fan once told me that it looked like the dancer had stepped halfway through a frisbie.

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I wonder: where did that style originate? And why?

Don't wait for my answer--it's R-rated!

My favourite description is a Q-Tip twirling around with a dinner plate.....

Or the flying saucer-school of uptilted tutus.....

Seriously, there are many descriptions of tutus online.....different ballets call for different styles, and different companies have their own "look" which sometimes changes over the years......

Very sketchily, in a nutshell, for classical tutus:

Softer, large, almost-bell shaped tutus are used in historical reconstructions of late 19th-early 20th c. ballets (Maryinsky Sleeping Beauty) or to mimic the look of same but with a more contemporary feel (ABT Ballet Imperial corps costumes.)

English: "classical" shape, but not tacked together really tightly and angled somewhat more softly toward the leg...the tutu moves somewhat with the dancer...

Karinska/NYCB/"Balanchine: shorter skirt, more movement and less stiffness, sometimes fewer layers, tacked more loosely...

"Russian"--wider plate (size of the skirt diameter), usually tacked more tightly, sometimes enough so it resembles a pancake, higher cut leg.

These are gross generalizations, but it is a complicated topic, and everyone finds their own look that they prefer.....

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Juliet...how interesting...now that would be an interesting topic to me: The History of the Tutu! I've seen them, I've worn them..but, what is the history of the different styles, designers, eras, etc? Fascinating...By the way, for those of you who have never worn one, imagine doing something complicated with your legs and feet and not being able to SEE them sometimes! :D

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Yes, thank you, Juliet, for the catalogue. Any excuse why any tutu would not cover the wearer's rear at least to the leg-line? (Another pet peeve :D .)

By the way, for those of you who have never worn one, imagine doing something complicated with your legs and feet and not being able to SEE them sometimes!  :D

When this was first pointed out to me, I immediately pictured the transported expression Martine van Hamel had as she "watched" her feet doing those tricky, fast steps in her "Theme and Variations" variation, and realizing . . . all she saw was tutu!!! :o

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And just think about Aurora's entrance down all those stairs in the Royal Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty while wearing a tutu. Not fun at all!

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I don't really like the costumes for William Forsythe's ballets, except for the tutus in The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.

And what does everyone think of Gelsey Kirkland's Don Quixote costume, the one she hated? I like it except for those wings...

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I'm not sure which costume (act?) you refer to, Violet, but Gelsey's costume for Giselle Act II was extraordinary. The skirt was made of fabric so light it actually wafted -- not so much to obscure her dancing, but accentuating her milkweed quality.

OTOH, I hated the long sleeves on her Bayadere (Shades) costume. I suppose they were supposed to substitute for the scarf that each corps dancer had, draping from the base of her headpiece and wafting along the upper arm, elbow and wrist. Just didn't do it, IMO.

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I'm not sure which costume (act?) you refer to, Violet, but Gelsey's costume for Giselle Act II was extraordinary.  The skirt was made of fabric so light it actually wafted -- not so much to obscure her dancing, but accentuating her milkweed quality.

Well, in Dancing on My Grave, Kirkland described being extremely impressed with Carla Fracci's act 2 Giselle costume and she slipped in Fracci's dressing room and snipped a piece off. She found out it was silk tulle.

She doesn't go any further than than, but draw whatever conclusion you will.

I didn't see Kirkland as Giselle but I did see Fracci quite a few times. The tutu was huge and very cloudlike. It was very much a part of her portrayal and made a big impact. Talk about atmosphere.....

Richard

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I remember reading that it was silk nylon (maybe it's the same thing?). I wonder what I did with my copy of the book....

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As I recall, her objection to the Firebird get-up was not an issue of aesthetics but of modesty -- or lack thereof :blush:. The costume lacked a pantie.

:devil:

In the '70s, there was a series of small booklets -- about 16 pages, mostly photos -- devoted to several dancers. Jacques d'Amboise's had a photo of him as the Firebird prince holding Gelsey overhead, she in a pas de chat vole position. You can see the crotch panel of her tights. :yucky:

Otherwise, the Chagall creation is exquisite -- brilliantly colored, extravagant, as filled with fantasy as any of his other works.

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No excuse for no pantie. Or trunks. End of discussion. Bad design. I don't blame GK a bit.

"Any excuse why any tutu would not cover the wearer's rear at least to the leg-line?"

If the tutu was not built for the dancer, it's entirely possible that it won't fit properly--ride up, droop, give wedgies, etc. All rear ends are not the same and all wardrobe departments don't have the time or resources to correct fit on every dancer for costumes that are worn by many.

In a custom tutu, no, there's no excuse.

Kirkland's Giselle costume was wonderful--I shamelessly used it as a model when I designed a production some time ago. There are varieties of tulle, different weights, and layers of a fine/silk will give the thistledown quality which we hope will be echoed in the dancing. :devil:

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"Any excuse why any tutu would not cover the wearer's rear at least to the leg-line?"

From etymonline.com:

"Tutu. Ballet skirt, 1910, from Fr. tutu, alteration of cucu, infantile reduplication of cul 'bottom, backside.'"

Oh dear.

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A costume question for the veterans:

RE: Vienna Waltzes, " At many moments I knelt down to pick up the long train of my costume, and during a fitting with Madame Karinska, Mr. B asked her to place a a little silver rose just underneath the skirt so that it would show, ever so slightly, at these moments.
--Suzanne Farrell

I've wondered for a while exactly how this appeared - I'm not quite getting where the rose was placed in the garment. Anyone know any details?

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if mem. serves this anecdote describes a trait of Karinska's known to NYCB's dancers, whereby she affixes some detail to personalize a particular costume, often? only? where the dancer him or herself could see it.

so the 'personal' rose in Farrell's white Rosenkavalier gown would be only where she could see it, perhaps on the underside of the train, or some such place.

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if mem. serves this anecdote describes a trait of Karinska's known to NYCB's dancers, whereby she affixes some detail to personalize a particular costume, often? only? where the dancer him or herself could see it.

so the 'personal' rose in Farrell's white Rosenkavalier gown would be only where she could see it, perhaps on the underside of the train, or some such place.

Thanks RG - I was wondering if it would have been visible to audience members (well, in the first row). I was poking about for photos that might give a clue, but wherever it's at, I can't see it. ;)

Suzanne%2BFarrell%2BIn%2BVienna%2BWaltze

Suzanne_Farrell.jpg

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i can't speak for anyone else in NYCB's audiences, but after watching VIENNA WALTZES since its world premiere, i've not seen this detail from the audience.

that said, i don't know how often or if the costumes have been re-built since the first set; one time, or more, and if so if the rose detail was included in the re-made costume.

have you checked Bentley's KARINSKA book? there might some more info. there.

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