Irritating lace and sequins, hard boning, scratchy tulle, infinitely layered skirts—we’ve all been there. And for our students, uncomfortable costumes may be a source of anxiety on performance day. Weighty headpieces can throw off pirouettes, long skirts will be stepped on, and satin gloves offer no traction for handling canes and slippery hats. Giving students ample time to rehearse in troublesome outfits will often nix those recital blunders, and put fears to rest.


But practicing in costumes ahead of time may affect performance quality on a deeper level—dancers can delve deeper into their characters or personalize moments in choreography. In “Working in Challenging Costumes,” New York City Ballet master Karin von Aroldingen, Martha Graham Dance Company principal Elizabeth Auclair, and choreographer Trey McIntyre share their secrets to turning unmanageable designs into integral performance pieces.