Arts

Dance Costumes Made to Wow!

Bring that va-va-voom and wow factor to the stage, because we’re featuring some of the most amazing dance costumes from past professional dance productions. Get inspired and add a bit of pizzazz to your next casual Friday outfit!

 

Puttin’ On The Ritz with all that Glitz

Eric Underwood as the Caterpillar in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy of The Royal Ballet © ROH : Johan Persson 2013.png

Put on your chicest pair of sunglasses before you hit the theatre, because this costume glimmers, glares and sparkles! First staged by The Royal Ballet, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a spectacular ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The feet of eight dancers on pointe appear In the iconic scene where the caterpillar enters the stage. As if the synchronised movements of the ballerinas weren’t spectacular enough, they each wore a pair of royal blue pointe shoes embellished with crystals. The entire performance features the creative ingenuity of Bob Crowley’s costume designs. Besides the beautiful dancing and choreography that goes into a production, it’s important to recognise the role of the many artistic elements that bring this vision to life.

 

Borrowing from the Past

Photo by Bruce Zinger, courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada.png

Fashion is all about finding a balance between the past, present and future. When costume designers create innovative costumes for a dance production, they tend to borrow from the past and project the future. Hong Kong Dance Company’s production of Red Poppies featured a wealth of culture, heritage, and innovative designs. Borrowing elements of traditional Tibetan garments, Cui Binghua’s costumes incorporate intriguing designs while showcasing the beauty of Liu Lingli’s choreography. Chinese Dance costumes are known to marry fashion with function, creating a relationship in which the movement and the garments complement one another.

 

The Bigger, The Better

Scene from Whipped Cream. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre.png

“After all imagination is a beautiful thing” – Zora Neale Hurston

Reminding us where our creativity ignites, Alexei Ratmansky’s ballet Whipped Cream is all about releasing your wildest dreams. Performed by The American Ballet Theatre, this playful storyline is big and bold. The costumes designed by Mark Ryden are inspired by our favourite childhood candies, treats and pastries. Make sure to watch this ballet on a full stomach, or you’ll be growling for the next hour and a half.

 

‘Werk’ that Quirk

Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet .png

Turning Hong Kong’s extreme working culture, into a technicolor ‘werking’ culture is Hong Kong Ballet’s 40th Anniversary ad campaign. It’s not easy to pull off these neon colours, let alone doing it in ballet tights and leotards. But Hong Kong Ballet brings out the fun and quirky characteristics of Hong Kong, while staying true to the strength, power and beauty of ballet.

 

Light it up!

Photo by Kyle Ford.png

Kwok’s Kung Fu & Dragon Lion Dance Team is transforming tradition by lighting up local Hong Kong festivities with an LED Lion Dance. As the leader of the dance troupe, Andy Kwok is all about keeping up with the times while still honouring heritage and tradtion. The LED Lion Dance features lights on the costume that are coordinated to the rhythm of the music. These lions know how to break it down on the dance floor with some hip hop, and they can literally light up any party!

A dash of Pumpkin Spice

Photo by Bruce Zinger, courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada.png

Cinderella is notoriously known for her glass slipper and pumpkin carriage, two things that no one in their right mind would ever bring to a ball (though I’m sure someone from the Met Gala could prove me wrong). Nevertheless, Cinderella is a fairytale…which means that anything goes! James Kudelka’s ballet production of Cinderella performed by The National Ballet of Canada was filled with imaginatively fantastical costumes. David Boechler’s costume designs featured the classical elements of ballet, whilst adding light-hearted humour to this ‘all too serious’ art form. The mascot-like pumpkin heads that the male dancers wore during the waltz scene was just the right amount of pumpkin spice!

Thou Costume is Blazing

To dance or not to dance, that is the question. To dance, obviously! Crystal Pite’s contemporary choreographic work, The Tempest Replica is based on motifs of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Performed by Kidd Pivot, these dancers are transformed into unworldly beings by Nancy Bryant’s brilliant costumes. These designs are no basic plain white T-shirts, the details are in the seams from head to toe.

Fashion is not exclusive to the runway or red carpets, it’s everywhere we go, but it is also an important part of dance. So next time you catch a dance performance, pay attention to the other artistic elements of the performance and see what you discover!


Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet | 2. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy of The Royal Ballet © ROH / Johan Persson 2013 | 3. Photo by Crystal Kwok, Courtesy of Hong Kong Dance Company | 4. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre | 5. Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet | 6. Photo by Kyle Ford | 7. Photo by Bruce Zinger, Courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada | 8. Photo by Jörg Baumann, Courtesy of Kidd Pivot







Double Agents of Dance

Film Stars who also Double as Dancers

It’s not uncommon for actors, musicians, dancers and artists to cross-over various different art forms. To be a master at your own craft, it sometimes takes years of accumulating different skills, knowledge and practices to reach a certain level of mastery. These actors and actresses who’ve made it to the big screen also double as dancers!

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Tom Holland

Ever wonder why Spider-Man is so limber? It could very well be because of his ability to bust out some sweet Spidey moves on the dance floor! Tom Holland who is the lead actor of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, has trained in gymnastics, ballet, and has also dabbled in parkour. Having made his dancing debut in West End’s Billy Elliot: The Musical, Holland has transformed himself from triple threat to superhero.

 

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Alicia Vikander

Leaping and pacing along the docks of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbour (an iconic scene) is Alicia Vikander, who played the role of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Any dancer could appreciate the level of physicality Vikander demonstrates in this film. Though she did rock climbing, weight training, boxing, and bicycling to prepare for her role, Vikander stated in an interview with the Associated Press that “nothing is gonna be harder than ballet”. Training as a ballet dancer at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and the School of American Ballet, Alicia Vikander credits her many years of dance training for shaping her into the actress she is today.

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Harry Shum Jr.

It’s no secret that Harry Shum Jr. is a dancing talent, having played the role of a dancer on the hit television series, Glee and two of the Step Up films. Finding his groove to move in high school, Shum was inspired by Gene Kelly and Michael Jackson. Known for mastering various urban dance styles, what are the chances that we might see him ‘break it down’ in Crazy Rich Asians 2?

 

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Emily VanCamp

Putting the agent in “double agent”, Emily VanCamp played an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Her role as a double agent in ABC’s television series, Revenge, most definitely brought out her dancing roots. Growing up, VanCamp originally wanted to be professional dancer. Emily VanCamp studied ballet under the pre-professional training programs at École supérieure de ballet du Québec and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Transferring her grands battements into side kicks, she takes the theatre stage to the movie set!

Dance is one way of understanding the mind and body, it tests our limits with both physical and mental challenges. Don’t undermine the intensity of dance training, as it has been known…and proven to shape versatilely multi-talented artists.

Photo Credits: Dancewear Centre, Courtesy of Sony Pictures, Mariano Vivanco, Miko Lim, and Tyler Shields

Dream a Little Dream of Dance: Bedtime Stories for Dancers

When the lights go down and it’s time to catch some zzz’s, there’s no better dream than one that includes dancing animals, sugar plum fairies, or an impromptu hip hop dance battle.

Stir up your imagination, with these wildly fantastic bedtime stories that’ll make for a good night’s sleep. Bedtime stories aren’t exclusive to children, so pull up your favorite arm chair and pour a cup of tea…or better yet some hot chocolate with marshmallows!

Image by Randy Cecil

Image by Randy Cecil

1.     Brontorina

When Jurassic Park meets Center Stage (both ultimate film classics), we get the wonderful tale of Brontorina. This dancing brontosaurus makes everyone hear her roar with her dance moves. Written by James Howe and illustrated by Randy Cecil, this heartwarming tale brings out all the chuckles, as it tells the tale of a dinosaur who aspires to be a ballerina. It ain’t easy to get your foot into the studio when you’re 72 feet tall! Though, who ever said dancing was easy? Teaching us all about the determination and desire it takes to pursue your dreams, Brontorina reminds us to be true to ourselves!


Image by Eric Carle

Image by Eric Carle

2.     From Head to Toe

Got a classic case of ‘two left feet’? Refresh your movement vocabulary with this bold and cheerful book! From the same creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, comes a storybook that will get you moving in no time! With vivid designs of jungle animals, From Head to Toe features the oh-so iconic collage art of author and illustrator Eric Carle. A lot of our movement in dance stems from nature, so let these quirky jungle story characters guide you through the basics of body movement.


Image by Ann Jonas

Image by Ann Jonas

3.     Color Dance

Oh what a colourful world! Take a throwback to the 80s with Color Dance. Written and illustrated by Ann Jonas this book explores dance and color with dancers in Jane Fonda-like leotards who leap and turn across the page. Get inspired to dance while teaching those tiny tots about colour theory.



Image by Martin Ander

Image by Martin Ander

4.     My First Hip Hop Book

This one’s for all the bboys and bgirls who can’t resist a good beat! Hip hop is more than just a dance style, it’s a culture of art, music, movement, and fashion that honors self-expression through respect, love and creativity. My First Hip Hop Book written and illustrated by Martin Ander, is a vibrant picture book that allows us to appreciate Breakdance, Graffiti, DJs and Rap.


Image by Zong-Zhou Wang

Image by Zong-Zhou Wang

5.     D Is for Dancing Dragon

Every dance style is rooted in culture. Beyond learning about the alphabet and traditional Chinese dances like the Lion Dance and Dragon Dance, this book also highlights the richness and diversity of Chinese culture. Written by Carol Crane and illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang, D is for Dancing Dragon demonstrates how heritage and culture influence art.


6.     A Child’s Introduction To Ballet: The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance

Image by Meredith Hamilton

Image by Meredith Hamilton

Become the ultimate ballet expert with this beautifully illustrated book. Covering everything from ballet stories, fun facts, and tips for bunheads, you’ll never need to Google a thing about ballet again. Written by Laura Lee and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton, A Child’s Introduction To Ballet is a great way to understand the very art form every great dancer aims to master.

These fantastic reads may require you to make a little extra room on your bookshelf…or maybe a trip to IKEA (for the love of BILLY bookcase)! Prepare to fill your world with imagination and dance, as you read these bedtime stories that will make your dancing dreams a reality!