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Choreographers and Costume Designers


Stecyk

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This past Thursday, I saw an encore presentation of the Bolshoi's The Pharaoh's Daughter at my local Cineplex theater in Calgary.

Although I saw it when it was released in Canada orginally, I enjoyed this encore presentation, too. Being relatively new to ballet, I find watching a ballet a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant--there is so much to watch and pay attention to. With this encore presentation, I already knew the storyline and had a vague feeling of what to expect next. Thus, I was able to devote more energy to watching the dancers' movements.

On a sad note, during one of the intermissions, I saw Katerina Novikova's interview of Sergei Filin. This interview took place prior to his attack where he had acid splashed in his eyes. What an unnecessary tragedy.

My reason for writing this message is that I seem to recall during the introduction to the ballet that the choreographer, Pierre Lacotte, was also responsible for the costumes. Am I correct?

At the pre-show chat at a recent performance by the Alberta Ballet The Three Musketeers, I learned that the choreographer, David Nixon, was also responsible for costume design.

Is it common for choreographers to both be responsible for costume design and choreography? Intuitively, I would expect that these two endeavors are quite different from one another.

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John Neumeier designs a lot of the costumes for his ballets. It's the exception rather than the rule, though.

I think Lacotte was inspired by the original designs for Pharaoh's Daughter, or perhaps at least later productions of which there are some photos and maybe archival costume sketches. There is a photo, for instance, of Pavlova in tutu and Lord Wilson in safari suit and pith helmet (the incongruity always cracks me up).

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John Neumeier designs a lot of the costumes for his ballets. It's the exception rather than the rule, though.

I think Lacotte was inspired by the original designs for Pharaoh's Daughter, or perhaps at least later productions of which there are some photos and maybe archival costume sketches. There is a photo, for instance, of Pavlova in tutu and Lord Wilson in safari suit and pith helmet (the incongruity always cracks me up).

Any ballet where John Bull makes an appearance is already out there!

My sister, who is a seamstress, sent me a link to a sewing blogger who went to the FIT exhibit on dance costumes (and who happens to be Janet Eilber's sister) -- she discusses Martha Graham's practice of designing and making her own costumes.

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Thank you sandik and kbarber for your comments.

Is there anything that inspires a choreographer to be a costume designer? Is it that a choreographer imagines the ballet to come together in a certain manner and the costumes are an integral piece? Do some simply enjoy the artistic challenge?

Do choreographers who design get highly involved in the design process? Or, are they more likely to set the look and direction and have others complete the work? In others, would the roles of a choreographer who designs costumes differ significantly from a hired clothing / costume designer?

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I know that in some cases (Alwin Nikolais) the costumes are an integral part of the work, acting as set pieces or projection surfaces as well as clothing -- those choreographers would have very specific requirements for the costumes, whether they designed them themselves, or were working with another designer. And in other cases, young choreographers don't always have access or budget to work with someone independently -- they are their own costumer out of necessity.

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Here's an article from Forbes on a similar theme: Dancer Wendy Whelan Discusses Her Passion For Collaboration And 'Butt Glue'.

At a recent symposium at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, held in conjunction with F.I.T.’s exhibition, “Dance and Fashion,” Whelan said, “My greatest joy in life is collaborating with people, I found this out by working with choreographers. That’s where my love lies. It comes in many different forms, I keep on seeking out someone I can build a relationship with.”

Whelan said Rodriguez—who has designed costumes for a ballet, “Fool’s Paradise,” by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, creator of one of Whelan’s most famous ballets, “After the Rain”—“highlights your personal shape” and uses “fabric that moves together well, is comfortable on your skin. Those two talents make us feel amazing. He gets it.”

When I read about the Christian Louboutin inspired by ballet shoes, I wonder if they have red soles or shanks?

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