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Unitards


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 09 June 2001 - 11:48 AM

Someone wrote that "Unitards" were a pet peeve on the pet peeves thread. I thought this might make a good discussion topic.

Do you like unitard ballets? Do you like unitards? How do you think the unitard trend has affected dancers? Has affected choreography?

In short, are unitards a good thing or a bad one?

#2 dancersteven

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Posted 09 June 2001 - 06:31 PM

Unitards have their place, when used appropriately. For example, when the ballet is about purity of line or to show vulnerability (thinking a nude unitard here). The trouble is when someone sets out to make a "unitard" ballet, and ends up with a piece of drivel that isn't really about anything. Unitards are not a good thing to try and make a ballet about;-). . .

S.

#3 NancyHJohnson

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Posted 09 June 2001 - 07:17 PM

I think most dancers feel more exposed in a unitard than in tights and a leotard. It seems less flattering in general to the human body.

That having been said, a unitard is a wonderful base to paint, dye, or otherwise modify for costume purposes. However, if this plain base is used as an excuse to avoid building the correct costume (more complex, more expensive, etc.) in the first place, then a unitard surely deserves the term "peeve".

Angel Corella's Pied Piper costume for the new ABT production (on the cover of Dance, May 2001) is IMO the height to which a unitard may aspire. It's outstanding.

#4 sneds

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 05:23 AM

Hi!
Actually, the "Pied Piper" costume seen in the ads and on the cover of Dance Magazine is never worn in the actual ballet. The Pied Piper actually wears a short tunic, much like the costume from "Prodigal Son".
So nice unitard, but it's only for the promo shots.
Kate

#5 mbjerk

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 07:33 AM

Unitards carry the Balanchine black and pink ballets one step further. For me, they are usually terribly constructed, hanging in the crotch etc., and very unflattering.

They are now very dated in my opinion. Of course given the recent comeback of the sixties thourgh the eighties in fashion....

Unitards may also drive unhealthy behaviors, anorexia, more so than other costume types. I am happy to see less of them and more costuming that flatters the ballet and the dancer.

#6 NancyHJohnson

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 10:38 AM

Fooled me! I've never heard of a costume built for a production but not used in it (unless it had some severe problem, etc.)

Thanks for enlightening me----and you're positive that unitard is for PR purposes only???? It remains great to look at.

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 11:48 AM

Reading mbjerk's comments made me ask, How has the use of unitards influenced classical/neoclassical ballet choreography? If we're moving away from unitards and into something else, how will that change the ballets we see? (I'm not sure what the Something Else is. I don't see a "uniform" in the sense of a tutu, or unitard, or even pajama, during modern dance's minimalist phase.)

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 12:59 PM

I'm sure lightweight and more easily cared for synthetic fibers made the unitard much more feasable and inexpensive, but I think unitards are the chicken, not the egg in terms of ballet choreography. I think unitards came more into use when choreography (and society) demanded it, rather than the other way around.

#9 sneds

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 01:04 PM

Hi!
Yup..no unitard in "The Pied Piper"-and I saw it performed last month, BTW. The cape is in the ballet though.

Kate

#10 beckster

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Posted 11 June 2001 - 12:36 PM

I think they are horrible. I really don't like them. Its not to say that I want all ballets to be danced in tutus, but I find them horribly unflattering both on stage and off. I feel sure that with all the great costumers around, there must be an alternative!

#11 LMCtech

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 08:31 PM

As a costumer I will say that sometimes unitards are asked for so that's what you build.

I like them...in the right context. I'm a great believer in the appropriate costume at the appropriate time.

I saw Nacho Duato's Without Words this year. It's a leotard ballet. They were perfect for the work.

I Agree that sometimes unitards are just a cop out. That's when I hate them as much as you, beckster.

#12 Tancos

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Posted 17 June 2001 - 12:03 PM

When I photograph dancers with my medium- and large-format cameras, I prefer that they wear mid-toned unitards. I want to see the long, unbroken line, and the fewer interruptions from toe to neck, the better. I also like the way that unitards idealize the dancers' forms.

What I personally dislike -- this may shock you -- are the short, stiff classical tutus. They may be traditional, but they look unnatural to me, and visually they chop the ballerina in two. I'm sure I'm very much in the minority here.

[ 06-17-2001: Message edited by: Tancos ]

#13 Katharyn

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 03:34 AM

Unitards are the epitome of unflattering. It is rare one would look at a unitard clad dancer and marvel at how great they look.

Now, I don't doubt maybe the unitard has merit sometimes, but I can wager most sane individuals would rather wear something that didn't hug all the curves you usually strive to conceal. Granted, the average professional dancer looks a darn sight better than I in a unitard...
But few other costumes show off bony hips and ribs, or that little 'pooch' of a lower tummy most people have with such undisguised exposure...

Granted, line is unencumbered by the unitard, and it can be used to show say, vunerability as already mentioned, and because of its shape (or lack thereof) its quite a neutral costume.

I do concede that they go well with much of the modern neoclassical choreography that I have seen, with its emphasis on clean unfettered lines and more undefined gender roles... The unitard doesn't tend to detract from the choreography. I'm generalising here, of course...

But theres never a situation in which a leotard and tights doesn't look better than a unitard (unless its a really low cut leotard, ergh, I hate those as well).

Oh Tancos, you're words have pierced my heart, as there's nothing I love more than wearing a tutu and feeling pretty ;)

#14 LMCtech

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 07:10 PM

I'm going to disagree with the last post. There are times when a leotard and tights looks worse. I saw SFB do Symphony in 3 this season. the leotards were cut stright across the top of the thigh which succeeded in making everyone's butts look HUGE. (Imagine Lucia Lacarra with a huge butt. It is unfathomable.) A most unfortuneate costuming decision. Unitards would almost have been better. And then the line wouldn't have been broken.

#15 Katharyn

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Posted 19 June 2001 - 10:12 PM

Ahh.... I think I saved myself when I said that low-cut leotards are worse than unitards!


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