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DIY Halloween: 10 Dance-Inspired Costumes
If you still don't know what you're going to be for Halloween, don't panic just yet. Dance Magazine has your back. Whether you're heading to a party, dressing up for technique class or doing some good ol' trick-or-treating, there are countless costume options that take inspiration from modern, ballet and Broadway. (Chances are you already have the basic pieces in your closet!) Snag one of these ideas, or riff off one to create a unique look. Happy Halloween!
Cartoon by Jessica Love in The Juilliard Journal via juilliard.edu
Go Modern: Want to transform into Martha Graham? Purple fabric can do wonders. You're sure to get some confused looks from your non-dance friends. Bonus points if you do an excerpt from Lamentation and give a mini dance-history lesson.
If you're even nerdier, you can create your own version of one of Alwin Nikolais' imaginative costumes. Back in college, I showed up to a party for dance majors in this gem, based on "Mantis" from Imago. Peruse the racks at Goodwill for colorblock clothing, paint your face white and fashion a hat out of a Styrofoam cup and elastic.
Left: "Mantis" from Imago. At right: Madeline Schrock's take on the original.
Cat costumes also require meowing. The cast of Broadway's CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M.
Broadway Bound: Characters from the Great White Way provide endless costume ideas. If you're looking for French flair, try these dreamy pieces inspired by An American in Paris. Flouncy skirts and wrap sweaters in pastel shades evoke the fashion of late-'40s Paris.
If you've ever wanted to be a Jellicle cat, now's the time to make use of that unitard at the back of your closet. Add some fur trim, ears and creative makeup based on your favorite feline from CATS.
Dressing up as a founding father doesn't have to be stuffy. Borrow a look from the cast of Hamilton, by pairing a ruffled blouse with a military jacket and boots.
Graceful Ballet Looks: Take a page from American Ballet Theatre principals James Whiteside and Daniil Simkin and dress up as your favorite ballet legend. Last year, the two transformed into Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
If you are addicted to "The Walking Dead" and ballet, this costume is for you. "One year as a last-minute costume, I was a zombie ballerina," says DM assistant editor Lauren Wingenroth. "It's a super-easy one if you need something in a pinch—use an old ballet costume that you don't care about getting dirty, and paint your face white with dark eyes. Fake blood optional."
Escoyne as Terpsichore (far left), next to Nijinsky's faun
A Balanchine look is timeless and doesn't require too much planning. "When I was getting my BFA, we all got really into Halloween and would have themed days for an entire week," says DM assistant editor Courtney Escoyne. "For 'Mythical Monday,' I decided to pull some inspiration from Mr. B and go as Terpsichore from Apollo: classic white leo, white ballet skirt, pink tights. It was easy to put together, plus I got to pretend to be an NYCB ballerina for a day."
Last but not least, Halloween is the perfect excuse to dress up anyone's baby who may be crawling around the studio. Suzannah Friscia, an assistant editor at DM, says, "My very first Halloween costume as a baby was dance inspired: I was a purple Sugar Plum Fairy with a sparkly tutu and a little wand."
Sarah Haarmann stands out without trying to. There is a precision and lack of affectation in her dancing that is very Merce Cunningham. Her movement quality is sharp and clear; her stage presence utterly focused. It's no wonder she caught Mark Morris' eye. Even though she still considers herself "very much the new girl" at Mark Morris Dance Group (she became a full-time member in August 2017), in a recent performance of Layla and Majnun, Haarmann seemed completely in her element.
Company: Mark Morris Dance Group
Hometown: Macungie, Pennsylvania
Training: Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts and Marymount Manhattan College
In 2012, freelance contemporary dancer Adrianne Chu made a major career change: She decided to try out for A Chorus Line. "Even though I didn't get the job, I felt like I was meant to do this," says Chu. So she started going to at least one musical theater audition every weekday, treating each as a learning experience. After several years of building up her resumé, Chu's practice paid off: She booked a starring role as Wendy in the first national tour of Finding Neverland.
Approaching auditions as learning opportunities, especially when you're trying to break into a different style or are new to the profession, can sharpen your skills while helping you avoid burnout. It also builds confidence for the auditions that matter most.
For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.
Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."
It's easy to feel whiplashed thinking about everything Emma Portner has achieved in such a short amount of time. Last fall, the 23-year-old was the youngest woman ever to choreograph a West End production (it was based on Meat Loaf's greatest hits). This was, of course, after she already choreographed and starred in Justin Bieber's viral hit "Life is Worth Living," and before she charmed major media outlets when she secretly married actress Ellen Page. Now, she's L.A. Dance Project's first-ever artist in residence, and she's working on a commission for Toronto's Fall for Dance North Festival.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
Last month, the International Association of Blacks in Dance's third annual ballet audition for women of color was expanded to include a separate audition for men.
The brainchild of Joan Myers Brown (founder of both Philadanco and IABD), the women's audition was created to specifically address the lack of black females in ballet. However, the success and attention that audition drew made the men feel left out, so IABD decided to give the men equal time this year.
Pina Bausch's unique form of German Tanztheater is known for raising questions. Amid water and soil, barstools and balloons, the late choreographer's work contains a distinct tinge of mystery and confrontation. Today, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's dancers use questions as fuel for creativity. The company's most recent project introduced a new group of performers to the stage: local high school ninth-graders from the Gesamtschule Barmen in Wuppertal, Germany, in an original work-in-progress performance called Veränderung (Change).
Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.
She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.
But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?
I love being transgender. It's an important part of the story of why I choreograph. Although I loved dance from a very young age, I grew up never seeing a single person like me in dance. So how could I imagine a future for myself there?
The enormous barriers I had to overcome weren't internal: I didn't struggle with feelings of dysphoria, and I wasn't locked down by shame.
The dance community is heartbroken to learn that 14-year-olds Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran were among the 17 people killed during the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Guttenberg was a talented competition dancer at Dance Theatre in Coconut Creek, FL, according to a report from Sun Sentinel. Dance Theatre owner Michelle McGrath Gerlick shared the below message on her Facebook page, encouraging dancers across the country to wear orange ribbons this weekend in honor of Guttenberg, whose favorite color was orange.
A statement released yesterday by New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet reported that an independent investigation was unable to corroborate allegations of harassment and abuse against former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, according to The New York Times. This marks the end of a two-month inquiry jointly launched by the two organizations in December following an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment and violence.
The statement also included new policies for both the company and school to create safer, more respectful environments for the dancers, including hiring an independent vendor to handle employee complaints anonymously. These changes are being made despite the independent investigation, handled by outside counsel Barbara Hoey, purportedly finding no evidence of abuse.