When I worked for a professional dance company, I learned that all the ballet and dance shoes worn by the performers are fitted by a professional dance shoe representative and purchased by the dance company. The shoes are the property of the company, rather than individual dancers. The dance company purchases dozens of pairs of shoes for each dancer; for rehearsals and performances for the entire dance season. The shoe crate for a touring dance company may bulge with hundreds of individually dyed and labelled shoes. In this blog, I'm going to discuss the most common styles of dance footwear that I encountered.
Ballet costumes have a tough job; they must look delicate and gorgeous, be highly flexible, durable and work for the dancer. I think dancers are athletes; they spend more energy in one minute of dance than I do in an entire day. The costumes must cling to their ever-stretching bodies; but not so much that the dancer cannot extent their graceful arms and legs. Indeed, this amazing feat of engineering by accomplished cutters and stitchers is beautifully hidden by silk, lace, beads, jewels and feathers.
Traditionally, textile fibres come from four major sources; animal (wool, silk), plant (cotton,flax,jute), mineral (glass fibre) and synthetic (nylon, polyester, acrylic). In the 20th century, new artificial fibres were made from petroleum. These new fibres can be mixed with the other fibres to create new fabrics.
The WOW factor for costumes is usually shared between the fabrics, trims and costume design. Shiny fabrics, trimmed with beads or lights dazzle the audience and costumers alike. It is so exciting to be introduced to new fabrics and technology; indeed, costumers are very attentive while the Head of Wardrobe discusses new fabrics, trims and costume effects.
I have put together a list of basic textiles - you are likely familiar with most of them but new fabrics and textures are being invented every day - eventually, they wind up being used in costumes.
For the most part, show laundry is the same as regular, home laundry. Costumes worn by performers need to be cleaned; one way or another and the cleaning can be unconventional at times because costumes are often made of unconventional materials. Those breathtaking costumes made with fabric, feathers, grasses, sequins, crystals and painted plastic require special care in order to look good for each show. Costumers are aware that costumes last longer if they are stored in a clean, dry condition; make-up stains, sweat and body odour left in a costume may not come out.
Part Two - Dyeing Techniques - Brush Ombre discusses the brush method to achieve an ombre effect!
This method lends itself to individual projects such as t-shirts and scarves; and can easily be set up at home.
The brush method allows the dyer more control over the placement of colour and diluting water.
Colour is a very important tool in costume design because in most societies, certain colours have certain connotations.
For example, white usually shows purity and is often used for weddings, while black is often used for funerals. Throughout history, colours have been used to show different characteristics and also convey emotions, from hot to cool; for example a red dress worn by a boisterous character. The designer can use this idea to deepen the connection between the characters and the action of the story; to use colour and texture to help create characters that remain with the audience, long after the show is over.
The book The Costumer's Notebook is a 295 page comprehensive handbook for Costumers for stage and film including a full Glossary of stage and film industry terms. Sections include methods and tricks for laundry, dyeing, breakdown, Dresser guidelines and protocols for Stage or Film and various size charts for men and women from shoes to gloves. Other Sections include diagrams showing How to Iron A Shirt, How to Tie a Tie and How to Tie a Bow Tie. Costume fittings, costume lay out and costume storage are also discussed.