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Wardrobe malfunctions

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I recently rewatched "Portrait of Giselle" and one of the most enchanting parts of the documentary was Tamara Karsavina, recalling as if it was yesterday, how during one performance her strap slipped off her shoulder, thus exposing herself. She recalls Pavlova going up to her and attacking her and she says, "Naturally, I cried." So that was obviously an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, to quote Janet Jackson.

But has anyone ever seen any other wardrobe malfunctions? Shoes that flew off, skirts getting ripped, etc?

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Great topic. I'm looking forward to the responses. Although I've seen the usual amount of buttock exposure (when the tulle gets stuck on the headpiece after a big lift or fishdive), malfunctioning capes (Don Q especially), sliding wigs (Nutcracker Act I party scene), and problems with the removal of veils in Giselle Act II and the Kingdom of the Shades scene in Bayadere , I can't think of specific performance examples. :wallbash:

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Not exactly a wardrobe malfunction, perhaps more of a dancer malfunction: Kevin McKenzir in the last scene of a Romeo & Juliet at ABT schlepping Juliet about while still wearing his tatty pale blue wooly long legwarmers. I could see the pills from 15th row orchestra. This was captured for all time as the performance was filmed.

Richard Schaefer once came out in his shorter red warmers for his variation as the bullfigher in Don Q.

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During a Boston Ballet performance of An American in Paris, at the end, when they all walk across the stage from one side to the other and back again (the departure scene, I guess), one dancer appeared in enormous sweatpants. Didn't seem to be part of the costume, but...the costumes were varied. Sure enough, that dancer disappeared into the wings and the sweatpants disappeared before the dancer made the second trip across the stage.

This year at the Washington Ballet Nut, the female Arabian dancer's top came completely unfastened in the back. They adapted the choreography a bit on the fly as the top hung in place ok when dancer was upright, but...oh my.

The torn hems, sliding headpieces, etc. are too numerous to count.

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Considering how many wigs are used in ballets, has anyone seen a wig fly off during a performance? Or hair extensions?

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Not exactly a wardrobe malfunction, perhaps more of a dancer malfunction: Kevin McKenzir in the last scene of a Romeo & Juliet at ABT schlepping Juliet about while still wearing his tatty pale blue wooly long legwarmers.

Actually, they were sweatpants and they were very loose and baggy. And they became more shapeless during the short scene.

I wondered why that all came to pass. When McKenzie came out for his curtain call, he was wearing tights.

So why could he make a quick costume change for the calls but not a little earlier for the last scene? You would think they could hold the curtain or at least keep the tomb scene dark until everyone was set , costume wise

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When McKenzie came out for his curtain call, he was wearing tights.

So why could he make a quick costume change for the calls but not a little earlier for the last scene?

Number one: Romeo, once in the crypt, has no chance to escape to the wings until the final curtain has fallen. He finds Juliet, flings off his cape (when we discover the sweats :wallbash: ), dances with her "corpse", stabs himself and dies.

Number two: As a live broadcast, I don't think even the quickest-witted stage manager (or whoever handles these things) would have thought to drop the curtain and restart -- or pick up -- the scene.

Edited by carbro

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Not exactly a wardrobe malfunction, perhaps more of a dancer malfunction: Kevin McKenzir in the last scene of a Romeo & Juliet at ABT schlepping Juliet about while still wearing his tatty pale blue wooly long legwarmers. I could see the pills from 15th row orchestra. This was captured for all time as the performance was filmed.

Richard Schaefer once came out in his shorter red warmers for his variation as the bullfigher in Don Q.

hahah! I remember that. I taped it. Somehow its gone missing--but I do hope to find it some time.

I'd like to find it, not only for the entertainment value, but it was also a lovely performance (gaff notwithstanding)

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Not exactly a wardrobe malfunction, perhaps more of a dancer malfunction: Kevin McKenzir in the last scene of a Romeo & Juliet at ABT schlepping Juliet about while still wearing his tatty pale blue wooly long legwarmers.

Actually, they were sweatpants and they were very loose and baggy. And they became more shapeless during the short scene.

I wondered why that all came to pass. When McKenzie came out for his curtain call, he was wearing tights.

So why could he make a quick costume change for the calls but not a little earlier for the last scene? You would think they could hold the curtain or at least keep the tomb scene dark until everyone was set , costume wise

Didn't he probably have the sweatpants on over his tights? He probably forgot to take them off for the scene but took them off for the curtain call.

This makes me wonder how he, as director, feels about dancers who make similar mistakes.

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He wasn't the Artistic Director yet. IMO, he should have left the leggies on. "That's what we intended all along!" :clapping:

And on the same hand, it didn't do him any damage in the long run, now did it? (Yeah, it was funny.)

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I doubt he considered it a good career move at the time. I wonder if that was the reason the performance was never released on video.

OTOH, as AD, he probably personally conducts detailed costume inspections in advance of every act of every ballet.

Other mishaps: Judy Fugate's bodice seam splitting wide open in Cortege Hongrois (she was in the corps at the time). That was stitched up between entrances -- quick work!

Cheryl Yeager's triumphant debut as Kitri, in the Act III pas fishdive drop, her tights caught on Peter Fonseca's costume, leaving a big hole on her calf.

Stacy Cadell's ribbons unraveling and performing a dance of their own when she was leading Chaconne's pd5, with all that petite batterie.

Dan Duell's shoe slipped off his foot -- I forget which ballet -- and he crisply kicked it into the wing.

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patrick dupond and francoise legree in the late 70s in a gala performance in chicago in the pas de deux from the 2nd act of giselle, in which the ribbons on one of her pointe shoes gradually undid themselves.

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I'm sure that in the film of the Bolshoi's Raymonda with Bessmertnova, one of the Act III pd2 corps dancers' tiaras falls off. Filmed, and released, for posterity, at the Bolshoi, no less. :clapping:

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I was attending a performance of the Paris Opera Ballet in the eighties at Wolf Trap. They were doing Nureyev's "Swan Lake" on a very hot, muggy summer's night. Sylvie Guillem was mesmerizing everyone as Odile when her sequinned black swan bodice split down the side as Nureyev was spinning her. He looked only mildley alarmed when he saw what happened and she danced to the wings and shortly reappeared in a very basic, not so glamorous black tutu that was still passable as a swan costume.

That wardrobe malfunction made the night even more hot and muggy for the male contingent in the audience. At least that's what my husband told me. I was amazed they were able to find a replacement costume so fast! (Sigh...I miss the top ballet companies at Wolf Trap these days.)

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In the January 2006 run of Swan Lakes at NYCB, I caught the second performance of Sofiane Sylve as O/O.

The buzz from the first performance was that her Odile was very showy and virtuostic (multiple turns, etc)

When it came to the BS pdd coda, she seemed distracted. The fouette's slowed down.

All of a sudden, about 3/4 way through the turns, part of her crown detacted from her head and went flying.

I thought, maybe she had some inkling it was coming loose!

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It was 1975, and the Joffrey was dancing Cranko's "Jeu de Cartes" at City Center. Robert Estner was in the First Deal, when suddenly his blond, curly wig came loose and was covering his face. As Denise Jackson as the Queen of Hearts did her comic shtick downstage, Estner grabbed the offending hairpiece and tossed it off stage right, continuing in...his own blond curly hair. Hardly anybody noticed.

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It was 1975, and the Joffrey was dancing Cranko's "Jeu de Cartes" at City Center.

Speaking of Cranko's Jeu de Cartes.............

I saw this on a mixed ABT bill last Summer. Bocca was the joker and I started to notice he was fussing A LOT with his cap. He kept pushing it forward and then back. I picked up that he was becoming irritated.

Possibly, the elastic holding the cap on wasn't in the greatest shape.

It never actually fell off but after fussing with it continually for the first two deals, he pitched it into the wings.

So then he was bareheaded for the rest of the piece. Unlike the curly blond Joffrey wig Mel mentions, this was a curly red wig.

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Nine days ago, at the Stars of the 21st Century Gala in Lincoln Center, Desmond Richardson's shoe fell apart and he took it off, almost as part of his piece, leaving it onstage as he continued to dance, one socked foot, one shoed. It was prominently visible throughout his performance. After his bows, he scooped up the malfunctioning shoe and pranced off stage with it. The audience was quite amused.

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He wasn't the Artistic Director yet. IMO, he should have left the leggies on. "That's what we intended all along!" :P

And on the same hand, it didn't do him any damage in the long run, now did it? (Yeah, it was funny.)

And it provides SUCH comfort for youngsters (like mine) who forget to take off their warmup gear before going on stage. "You know, Kevin McKenzie did that once ... You've made it to the Big Time!"

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In the recent production at Boston Ballet of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Demetrius and Lysander were duelling when one of them got his foil caught in the net curtain.

It took some doing to extricate it.

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Still have my VHS copy of the McKenzie/Makarova R&J with the wardrobe malfunction mentioned. Will have to review again soon. Kevin McKenzie, in an interview last year, actually mentioned that "wardrobe malfunction"--yes he knew he'd forgotten to take them off, but 'the dance must go on' and the rest is history.

Besides a previous post where I described how I sprayed the corps with 'bobby pins' during a turn sequence (as my bun also descended to a blob at the nape of my neck--I could only hope it looked like Romantic style instead)

I once had to wear gold-rimmed bifocals as a dwarf (besides 2 other roles in the ballet--small company, small numbers) in an outreach production of "Snow White" done to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty score. since I didn't wear glasses then, it took a lot of practice to dance without looking through them. So I persevered in Act 1-2, but by the last Act conveniently forgot to wear them. Of course several people commented on this afterward--including confused children wondering where "Doc" had gone. I wonder if everyone still stitches the knot of their pointe shoe ribbons so they don't unravel ever? I think the elastics have improved greatly to compensate.

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Houston Ballet's performance of Nutcracker this year, the male lead (who is a friend, so no names...) sent his shoe flying into the wings during snow. After his next entrance, it slipped again and he vary noticably reached down to pull it back on. I was shocked he did this onstage... Apperently the tights he wore were not his usual, and they were slippery... still

Personal experience - I have had my costume unravell at the side seam. That was interesting since it was in the corps of Swan lake. During the White swan pas suddenly felt a nice breeze...

My eyelashes have glued together leaving me with very little space to see through to navigate off the stage - I have since changed my eyelash glue...

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Fraildove, you reminded me of a heartbreaker.

During my niece's Nutcracker one year -- a good school in the NYC suburbs -- the Mice were wearing head-and-face covering hoods with openings around the eyes. One little girl was tugging at hers, falling behind the other mice and falling out of line. While we could not see the face, her distress was palpable.

We learned later that the hoods were not available for the dress rehearsal. And that the poor girl who was effectively blinded by the ill-fitting headgear was my darling niece (who I hope is not a reader of this board :P )!

Which caused me to wonder:

  1. For performances where audiences are almost exclusively family members of the dancers, why were faces covered so we could not recognize our own?
  2. How could the directors not have forseen the hazard of face coverings, especially untried, especially with such inexperienced performers?

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My eyelashes have glued together leaving me with very little space to see through to navigate off the stage.
[T]he poor girl who was effectively blinded by the ill-fitting headgear was my darling niece (who I hope is not a reader of this board :beg: )!
I guess those are the times you REALLY have to rely on muscle memory. :blink:

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About the mousies with covered faces:

--There should always be at least one dress rehearsal, especially with costume elements/props that might be challenging.

--The Nut production I know best (with mice in the 8-10 age group, I think) uses headpieces that are modified baseball caps. Their faces aren't particularly visible, but they can generally see IF the headpieces stay in place.

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