Costume Change

In a previous blog, called "Tutu Torture", I wrote about how magical ballet costumes are, and how they are often the first things that make little girls (and sometimes boys) want to dance.  However, we love to wear them, and one of the things dancers love most about performing is, arguably, wearing a costume.  But what is it about costumes, anyway?  Why do we love them so much, even though they sometimes get in the way of our dancing? (Ahem, TUTUS, I'm looking at you).

 

When interviewing dancers, I often hear that they love to dance because they can be somebody else onstage.  A lot of them say that they are quiet and shy in everyday life, but that they assume another personality when they perform.  The costume is of course part of that; it completes the mood of the role you are dancing, and it can create an intimacy between dancers onstage.  Dancing in the corps of my youth company's Swan Lake, for example, my white, knee-length tutu bound me to the other identically-dressed girls, and I believe it helped us stay together.  The peach-colored, be-sparkled tutu I wore as the Hungarian princess in the ballet's third act helped me assert my own personality, even while dancing in unison with the other princesses.  National Ballet of Canada corps member Adji Cissoko, who I wrote about in my last blog, lights up when she talks about the opening moments of Serenade, and the amazing feeling of the corps, dressed in those beautiful long blue tutus, moving as one unit.

 

I can talk about the beauty and function of ballet costumes, but I don't think that really gets to the bottom of why we love to wear them.  I think it's because, every time we finish dressing and pinning our crowns, we are taken back to that moment when we were first dazzled and delighted.  It's one of those firsts that we never forget, and that we are lucky enough to experience all over again every time we look in the mirror and smile at the beautiful ballerina looking back at us.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

7 Eco-Friendly Choices Dancers Can Make to Green Up Their Lifestyles

Ballet dancers are known for their empathy and willingness to improve, so it is no surprise that many are educating themselves about the environment and incorporating sustainable habits into their lives. "I recently read that there are more microplastics in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. That really hit me," says American Ballet Theatre corps member Scout Forsythe, who has been making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Although no one can fix the climate crisis on their own, we can make small, everyday changes to help decrease waste, consumption and emissions. Here are some suggestions for dancers looking to do their part in helping our planet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks