Dance Costumes 101

There is nothing quite like the whispered gasp from the audience when the curtain comes up, the stage lights go on, and the crowd sees the dancer in their costume for the first time.

Dance Costumes 101

Theatregoers can relate to the excitement that accompanies a performance- the light flicker that reminds the crowd to take their seats, the hushed murmur of the audience and the anticipation of experiencing an unrepeatable live event. However, few people have the magical opportunity to be on stage, slip into a special costume and be part of
the show.

The Why
Practically speaking, participating in a scheduled performance encourages dancers to develop self-discipline, motivation, patience, and a desire to set goals and succeed. All dancers work as part of a team and come together to achieve cohesive choreography.
Having the opportunity to be backstage further strengthens this unity. It is FUN to get ready together, hang out in the dressing rooms, borrow bobby pins and finally get to wear the beautiful costumes that have been waiting for their debut.
Dance costumes are designed to “wow” the audience and make the dance come to life! They set the mood and visually articulate the story the choreographer is attempting to convey. They are carefully selected to enhance each dancer and their movements across the stage.

Ballet Costumes
Ballet was originally established in Italy around 1500. The term “ballet” comes from the Italian word “ballare,” which means “to dance.” At this time ballet was a social dance and ball goers wore masks, pantaloons and shoes with tiny heels. When Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henry II she introduced ballet to France and professional dancers were hired as entertainment. The costumes evolved to balance fit, form and functionality. Today, Tutus for ballet reflect the 1500’s era and are delicately designed to extenuate the neck, make the arms look more elegant and make the legs look lean and long.

Jazz Costumes
The sequins and rhinestones commonly associated with jazz costumes reflect the high energy of the discipline. Jazz Dance originated in Africa around the seventeenth century. These costumes are selected to highlight flexibility, fancy footwork and clean lines. Hair, headpieces, shoes and stage makeup are the finishing touches and complete the costume.

The Cost
A well dressed dancer minimizes distractions and helps dictate the direction of the dance. And, a well-made costume that truly sparkles on stage is an investment.The price of a costume includes the design, durability, fit, fabric and manufacturing conditions, measuring, ordering, shipping, distribution.

Care and Cleaning
Costumes can be passed down from generation to generation or re-purposed for other performances. To extend the costume’s longevity, it is important that the care and cleaning instructions are followed and alterations are sewn professionally. Costumes are commonly hung in a labeled garment bag along with corresponding headpieces and accessories.
With the end-of-year Showcase being top of mind, there will be numerous questions about costumes. To help ease any insecurities and help with budgeting, Mahogany Dance Arts will be ordering costumes in February. Stay tuned for a sneak-a-peek. Whether it is a dancer’s first or fiftieth time performing, costumes are always one of the best parts and add to the excitement of the big day!!

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