Monday, August 30, 2010


(You’d think that my next blog post would logically be about solicited feedback… and, yes, that was originally my intention… but then the unsolicited feedback brought up an idea so here we are. ;))

The idea came when I wrote about the comments that we sometimes get about the costuming… (see previous blog post). Same could be said about makeup... oh and hair too!

Not a feature

Isn’t it something to strive for, to have great costuming and makeup and hair? Yes… to a certain point. At a minimum, you want those elements to not be extremely visible… meaning, that it shouldn’t detract from your performance… and it shouldn’t be a feature of your performance. I have seen a number of dancers over the years whose performance gets carried through because of costuming, hair, and makeup but the dance itself was meh. Some people hide behind those tricks. (And, seriously, we've all done this at least once.) It’s a smoke and mirror trick that you want to use sparingly... if at all!


You want to stir away from the cluster f***. That happens generally when you just shlap on something without having put any thought into whether it's appropriate for the performance. Because it's a gorgeous costume or one from renown designer XX that cost you XX$, it doesn't mean that it's appropriate for the performance!


Ideally, you want everything costuming, hair, and makeup (and beyond) to be in synergy. What does ‘synergy’ mean? Synergy, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently (per Wikipedia).So, with that in mind, I mean that we ideally want the costuming, hair, and makeup to enhance the performance in a way that enriches the whole final product that you’re presenting on stage.It’s a balancing act and a bit tricky. Just putting on a costume will already oomph up a performance… but if the performance doesn’t have enough oomph to begin with, a nicer bow won’t make it better.


Really, that’s the thing: you can view costuming, hair, and makeup as a frame for your performance… i.e., for your moves, for the mood and tone you want to set, the character, etc. So if you use the wrong frame, something will be off… and everyone will know it. Sometimes it’s easier to imagine a different art. Take a painting that would be very Victorian but you stick it in a super modern frame… something will definitely be off. Likewise, a very modern painting in a Victorian-style frame would be off. So keep that in mind while choosing your costume elements, your hair design, and your makeup!

Also keep in mind some technical/practical aspects too. You will be doing floorwork? A skirt may not be the best idea. You will be using veil? Maybe an elaborate do with lots of metal tidbits in your hair will most likely get the veil caught.

Another tip

I’ve most certainly been guilty of not having synergy in my costume. I think that it’s something that needs to be experienced with… and I don’t always succeed even when I’m trying to achieve it. For the record, while having a specific costume for a specific piece and only for that piece would be amazing, it’s near impossible to do for many reasons.

One thing that has helped me when I think of my costuming for an upcoming piece, though, is asking myself “Out of my stuff I already have, what would the person who is dancing this piece choose and does it fit with the music, mood, etc.?” (Note that I include jewelry and overall accessories in this self-assessment). It helps foster that synergy because you are getting in touch with the character and the piece in choosing your costuming elements. Same goes for hair and makeup. I ask myself “What would this character do for hair and makeup?”

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