Thoughts on costumes of MT routines at dance competitions

  1. talfonso profile image90
    talfonsoposted 20 months ago

    I posted a few questions of some sites (no need to mention) regarding the musical theater routines at dance competitions.

    Jessica Rizzo, a Connecticut dance teacher, wrote ( … tre-purist), "It’s our responsibility then to ensure that we are not just giving our dancers movement for movement sake, but that they also understand the history and details of the show to which you are setting. This goes for any age and level."

    "What is it about? Who are the characters? How do the characters relate to one another? What is the song about? Who was the original show choreographer? Who did the set design and costumes? What era was this musical set? When did it premiere? What is the style of the choreography?"

    Unfortunately, most dance teachers don't get the drift, especially with costumes.

    I believe that the media and the "urgent" need to win a top prize (and many a senior solo to Tami Tappan Damiano's cover of "Hit Me With a Hot Note" with choreography based on classic jazz dance - no tricks, scorpions, a la seconde turns, etc. - and costume comprised of tan tights, a 1940's style dress, and LaDuca Alexis character shoes rarely would score 290+/300, depending on competition) are reasons why.

    Rizzo adds, "I’ll be honest, I’m really not sure where this next trend has emerged from but it has to be one of my biggest pet peeves as a teacher, choreographer and judge. Remember that costumes are a HUGE part of any musical. They represent who these people in this world are and can signify everything from era, species to status."

    "So, please, please, please if you are choreographing a musical theatre piece and it’s not (a showtune from) The Lion King, Once on this Island, The King and I, Aladdin, Aida, etc. then please don’t put your dancers in bare feet and costumes which have absolutely no relevance to the song they are dancing to..."

    "No professional judge with a strong working knowledge in musical theatre wants to see dancers in a bra-lette and slitted skirt with briefs dancing bare legged and barefoot to 'Anything Goes.'"

    Take the Linda Eder cover of "I, Don Quixote," for instance. It was originally a duet between Sancho and Don Quixote from the musical Man of La Mancha. But dancers today oftentimes would do so in flamenco-styled costumes.

    Now, depending on what your views on cultural appropriation are, a dress shirt, capri leggings, and a vest made of metallic silver lycra fabric is more artistically accurate than red bra tops and briefs festooned with red Spanish-styled trim on bare legs. This is coming from a dance history buff.

    A video of a girl dancing to "Don't Rain on My Parade" ( gave me hope, despite the tricks. She wore a dress in 1910's style, a la Fanny Brice. Either the mother or the costume designer knew the showtune was from Funny Girl. I found it refreshing.

    What do you think?


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