Best Studio Practice: Rejuvenating Old Costumes

Every year, finding the right costumes—at just the right price point—can be a challenge for any studio owner. But with a little creativity, you can not only save money, but also ensure that your students have something unique to wear in time for the show. Read on for advice on how to renew, reuse and recycle those tossed-aside frocks.


A Little Change Goes a Long Way

Commercial costumes for younger students tend to be sold as separates, so repurposing a costume can be as simple as swapping one piece for another. Vicki Armitage of Vicki's Dance Centers of Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana, has been employing this tactic for 40 years. "You can turn a little girl's costume into a little boy's costume by cutting off skirts and adding some bike or athletic shorts," she suggests.


Basic accessories can also add flair. Katie Miller, performance ensemble director and owner of the Texas-based Plan Dance Theatre, was able to embellish a set of plain white dresses for her older students so that they could be worn for four different numbers. Miller similarly dressed her youngest dancers in white leotards with tutus, and then added a variety of accessories. "When the show was done, the outfit can be worn in dance class," she says.


Create Your Own Collection

Since you never know what you'll end up needing in the future, it's wise to start your own collection of costumes at the studio. Valerie Stead Potsos of Dancer's Edge in Dexter, Michigan, orders a few extra costumes for each dance. Once the show is over, she stores them for future pieces. You can also ask your students to donate costumes at the end of each year, and explain that anything given back to the studio will help reduce future costs.


Arrange a Costume Swap

Consider setting up a costume trade among classes within your studio. A group can don a costume one year, and the following year, swap with another group. This way, students will get two years' worth of costumes for the price of one. Or, have your older students pass down their costumes to younger ones once they've outgrown them—set an annual date when students can donate old costumes that no longer fit them. And look to other places in your area that are not direct competitors, such as performing arts high schools, community theater groups or high school dance teams.


Parts of this originally from "Renew, Reuse, Recycle" by Jennifer Anderson.

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