Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Costuming Quibbles


Recommended Posts

An observation on costuming of Peter Martins' ballets. Not that that's my primary criticism of his oeuvre, but I'm interested if anyone else here shares my response.

Almost all of Martins' leotard ballets (which means almost all of his ballets) have the dancers in footless tights. This cuts the line of the leg. I think legs look best when covered hip-to-tip in a single continuous color. (Call me an old fogey for saying so, but except for comic or character effect, that color on the ladies should be pink, beige, white or black.) I suspect Martins employs this unflattering look just for the sake of being different, although it does complement the sadistic undertone (undertone?) of so many of his works.

When his first ballet, Calcium Night Light, premiered Heather and Danny wore footless unitards. Now, Heather of the long and skinny legs, could almost carry this look off. But very few humans -- or even ballet dancers -- or even City Ballet dancers -- have her extreme attenuation.

I was distracted during Reliquary the other night by the look of the ladies in white, footless tights, with white shoes, white ribbons wrapped around bare insteps and ankles. This cut the foot-leg line in four places below the knee! Couldn't they at least have used less contrasting pink ribbons? It occurred to me that if the choreography had been totally riveting, I may well not have noticed. But it wasn't, and I did.

If I were to start a petition drive ;) to limit the use of footless tights, would I find any signers here?

Then we can get on to other matters.:eek:

Link to comment

I don't know that it's dysfunction. It may just be stuck in some earlier time. We kept "Interplay" in its original Irene Sharaff "forties" costumes, while NYCB chose to update the costumes to more modern practice-clothes-influenced ones. Robbins supervised both productions, so both must have been OK with him. Having noted that, I just had a mental image of Peter's NotSwanLake recostumed in zoot suits for everybody. Funny thing was, I found the picture a slight improvement on what's there now!;)

Link to comment

Ditto for the footless tights--it is so HeatherWatts/1980's and a useless distraction--or would be useless if the choreography for the works were any better. Another costuming trend which I find distracting is having dancers in point shoes and bare legs. The combination of realisim and artifice (throbbing muscles and point work) seems to make the choreography seem artificial and silly. That was one of the many things I didn't like about the new Carosel--and having men in jeans do ballet steps had the same effect of trying to be realistic and fantastic at the same time, and being neither. (The other thing I didn't like about that ballet is that the pas de deux is extremely similar to MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet pas de deux, with a lot of flailing and flopping and hollow emoting, but that wasn't the fault of the costumes.)

Link to comment

yet, the men in jeans works in the ABT Harrison piece.

Of course, I think it makes a fabulous Gap ad.

I can't remember if Hermann Schmerman (sp?) or Red Angels, behind the china dogs have the footless tights? I just remember the lighting in those, which Wheeldon seems to be fond of playing with lighting.

I cringed cargill at the Watts reference. That's all I remember of her.

Link to comment

There's a lot more to remember of Heather Watts. Toward the end of her career, I agree that she was somewhat painful and annoying to watch. But she was a good dancer for a long time. Even Arlene Croce admitted to enjoying her dancing and once called her "the ideal Robbins dancer," or some such thing. Of course, some of us on this board might not consider that a compliment.

Link to comment

FF, I will admit that Heather was not to everyone's taste, but I agree with you that except for her last three or four years, she gave some very admirable performances, even when cast against type.

I don't mind the jeans in either Carousel/R&J or the Harrison tribute, but disliked the bare legs look of the women, Calliope and cargill. I believe that both China Dogs and Red Angels had footless tights, but neither Dove nor Forsythe is gaining increasing domination over the "look" of City Ballet. I know the women in Stars & Stripes (except Liberty Bell) wear little, white anklets over their tights, but that seems wittily appropriate and doesn't announce a new, company-wide aesthetic.

Mel, I can barely recall the Sharaff costumes. I don't like the women's tunics in the current NYCB Interplay, as they ignore the waist and tend to blouse over the upper body, obscuring the line. Can't win there, I guess.


Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...