Creativity in Costuming and Props

Over the past couple years, I have become increasingly amazed at the creativity that comes with costuming and prop creation for shows.

Dance

The other night, I was working at the front desk at the dance studio. My task for that shift was to assemble some headbands for one of the competitive dance groups. The flowers I was gluing to the headbands, I had pulled off a garland a week before that. At that time, they were pink. Since then, they had been spray painted white, purple, and two shades of blue. I did not come up with the idea, I was just doing the tasks I was given… I was amazed at the creativity behind the creation of those headpieces! To look at flowers on a garland, and think, “I could just paint those these 4 colors, glue them to a headband, and get exactly the accent piece I am looking for.” WOW! That is not a talent I have!

Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of helping assemble/prepare many of the props, so I know how much hard work goes into them. Props and costume pieces for our dancers are often pieces that come from something completely different than what they are turned into. In many cases, I have found myself saying, “I would have never thought to make this out of that!”

Shows

Currently, I am participating in the White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is my third year participating in this huge fundraiser for the Lion’s Club! This year, we have an amazing number of props, sets, costumes, etc. While many of us are putting together our own costumes, and bringing in some of our own props, there are MANY pieces being created by a fantastic crew of people. They are working very hard to try and find or create authentic-looking costumes and costume pieces. They are able to come up with ideas that I would have never thought of. Even if I had the creativity to come up with the ideas, I do not have the talent to create such pieces! I appreciate the people who spend many hours pulling together pieces, doing alterations, etc. to make us all look the parts.

Last year, my daughter was in the musical at her high school. The women who worked tirelessly to put together 20’s era costumes were amazing! Many items came from Goodwill or other thrift stores, but were then altered significantly to turn it into something from the right time period. One of my daughter’s Chorus Girl dresses, was created from a figure skating costume. By the time the show took place, the costume fit the show perfectly!

I am in awe of people who can look at something, and just know how to create something completely different out of it! The performing arts world is a better place, because of the creative people who are able to make costumes, props, and sets with limited budgets, pieces that were intended for other uses, and even from raw materials. Thank you all for your hard work, and creative ideas!

 

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Why Rhinestone?

My daughter's tap costume. It almost doubled the weight due to all the rhinestones, but made it look so much better! :-)

My daughter’s tap costume. It almost doubled the weight due to all the rhinestones, but it makes a difference! 🙂

I have had many people ask why we bother rhinestoning our dancer’s costumes. I’ve heard comments such as, “It’s not like the judges are going to dock points for not having enough rhinestones on!” While this is true, costumes and showmanship ARE part of what they are scored on at many competitions.

Judging

I decided to look at the rules of some competitions to see how “costuming” plays a role in scores. While many competitions limit who is able to view their rules/regulations to only studio owners, Legacy Dance Competition does have their rules online. They judge dances as follows (according to their website):

“The judges will base their score on the following criteria:

50% – Technique
25% – Execution/Musicality
15% – Choreography/Showmanship
10% – Overall Appearance”

Hall of Fame also publishes their rules on their website, which states: “Judging: Will take into consideration choreography, technique, showmanship, and precision. ”

If you look up “showmanship” online, the first thing that comes up is the Wikipedia definition: ” Showmanship, concerning artistic performing such as in Theatre, is the skill of performing in such a manner that will appeal to an audience or aid in conveying the performance’s essential theme or message.”

Costumes

Here is my daughter's vest for a tap costume as it originally came.

Here is my daughter’s vest for a tap costume as it originally came.

Ideally, a costume enhances the theme or message of the piece. On occasion, when a costume doesn’t seem to match the dance or the idea being presented, it can be almost uncomfortable to watch. On the other hand, a costume that fits a piece perfectly, makes it a more enjoyable experience. If you don’t think the shimmer of the rhinestones (or sequins, or glitter) adds to the appeal and pizzazz of a costume, you need to take another look. The impact can be quite noticeable!

Let’s take a look at my daughter’s small group costume. Originally, it was a black vest with hot pink jeggings. On its own, it is very cute! It almost looks like something my daughter would wear hanging out with her friends. However, I knew that Miss Maria, owner of Lake Area Dance Center, would find a way to rhinestone it that would make it really pop onstage. I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with. As usual, she didn’t disappoint!

The second picture shows how the rhinestones make a difference on the vest. The pink rhinestones on the buttons really make them “pop.” Without them, it might be difficult to see the buttons from a distance.

While it may not be the best picture, you can see how the rhinestones enhance the overall look of the vest!

While it may not be the best picture, you can see how the rhinestones enhance the overall look of the vest!

In the past, I was skeptical about the purpose of black rhinestones. I have since realized how even the black ones can really catch the light, which adds to the overall effect of the costume.

The picture also shows the pink rhinestones down the seam of the jeggings. That also makes a subtle difference in the costume. It makes the lines more noticeable as they are turning in unison, or opposite each other. The smallest details make the differences that people don’t necessarily recognize, but know are there.

026Recently, my daughter’s small group performed in a local show with this costume. With the stage lighting on, it looked fantastic. Of course, the dance itself is very fun, and they did a great job performing it, but the costumes looked great too! There’s something to be said for stage lighting, and how it shows off both the dancers’ moves and their costumes. Even when they turned on the black lights, you could see the dancers because of the way the rhinestones reflected the light.

While it’s not always easy to articulate why rhinestones are important on costumes, most people would probably notice a difference if they saw the same dance done with and without any kind of sparkle added to the costume. My guess, is that most people would enjoy watching the dances with rhinestones, etc. just a little bit more (even if they can’t put their finger on why).

The showmanship and enhanced costume is the little difference that could make a dance stand out. When you are being judged, standing out can be really important (especially if 10% of your score is based on your overall appearance)!

 

 

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