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How Dancewear Has Evolved

Aug 22, 2008
Nadel puts it best: "Costumes are clothes and they are art. They make the invisible ideas visible", and goes on to say: "Clothing worn in dance training generally reflects period, culture, and performance traditions". Dancewear has evolved throughout time and involves many different factors to create a costume that will engage the audience. The purpose of dancewear is to enhance the dancer's body and the concept of the choreographer.

Throughout history clothing has become more simplified as dance becomes more physically demanding and free. In the nineteenth century, the ballerina Marie Tagolioni inspired the first tutu. As dance increased in athleticism more of the body was revealed. Isadora Duncan made a great impact on dancewear as we know it today. She began a new look, inspired by the Greeks, of tunics and scarves. This simple costume inspired a new form of dance costume and new ways of moving. This imitation of the Greek clothing freed the naturally beautiful lines of the human body and movement. This change in dancewear extended the dancer's space, and caused the costume to be made to conform to the curves and shapes of the body as much as possible.

There are many more 'ingredients' that go into the planning and design of dancewear than one would originally think, such as: requirements, design, colour, texture and pattern, material, and lining. This then extends even further into whether the dancewear is designed for women or men, what accessories will be applicable, essential footwear, and even down to the care of the various items. Dancewear must harmonize with the dance. The costume should never hinder the movements of the dancer or attract too much attention. This is standard across all forms or dance or expression, including ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, stage dance and urban hip-hop style dance and worship.

Dancewear needs to be simple and expressive. Dancing in ordinary clothing restricts movements. The most successful dancewear portrays or relates to some characteristic or mood of the dance. When designing dancewear, it is required to analyze the costume's function in relation to the purpose. The main people involved with the designing of the costume are the choreographer, designer, seamstress, and dancer. The costume should be designed according to the movements of the dancer, the budget, and to the comfort of dancer. A costume should not be just worn, the dancer needs to take advantage of its restrictions and use them to enhance the visual designs or ideas.

Last but not least, there is an element of safety that needs to be considered too. Whether the dance form is ballet or hip-hop, when dancing with a partner, there can be no attachments or cut-outs that could possibly hamper the smooth flow of movement or possibly threaten the performance with something caught in a cut-out, hoodie, or skirt. All these things are carefully weighed up in the design, with adjustments being made to the dancewear right up until the dancers step onto the stage to perform. Dancewear makes it possible to extend the potentials of the body design in space and can add new elements of stage interest.
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For further information regarding our range of dancewear, please visit our website at http://www.dancedirect.com.
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