Guest Blog: Electively Costuming

In addition to all of the required courses that we have to take for the NYU/ABTprogram, we choose one elective - either an existing course or an independent study. I've always been fascinated with costuming, so I decided to create my own course so I have more background information to help me as a future studio owner. So far, I've been reading texts, making site visits to costume shops, having discussions with costume designers, and even attempting to sew a leotard.

I've had the opportunity to tour the costume shop at Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY, where I learned that they spray the arm pits of the costumes with vodka after shows to help neutralize any odors. I also took a two-hour tour of the Metropolitan Opera House, which allows visitors to see all of the inner workings of a major theater - from set and costume design to even the wig shop.

During a chat with Maggie Raywood, costume director and associate arts professor at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, she illustrated how important it is that costumes are also safe in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. She said something as much as how one cuts a piece a fabric can impact a dancer's balance. For example, she's seen first hand the effects of putting someone in a heavy coat with an asymmetrical hem -- it literally threw the dancer off his center during turns.

And Katherine Patterson, wardrobe supervisor for Mark Morris Dance Group, showed me book after book of "costume bibles" for various pieces in the company's repertory. They include the original sketches done by the costume designer (including Isaac Mizrahi), fabric samples for each item, and then several photographs of the final product on a dancer, so that if anything needs to be repaired at some point, the wardrobe department can see what was used, where items were purchased, and how it originally looked. She also recommended storing most dance costumes - once they are cleaned - folded and flat in a cool, dry space, rather than hanging to prevent the clothes from stretching out from the hangers.

I still hope to talk to master pointe shoe fitter Judy Weiss at Grishko, sit in the corner and observe the costume shop at New York City Ballet, and take some time to browse in the fabric shops in the Fashion District. I've already got the material for the leotard, but am still unsure whether it will actually be wearable in the long run .... luckily, I still have time to work on it before our classes wrap up this December!


Hannah Guruianu is a master's degree candidate in dance education at New York University. She is a freelance writer and editor, flamenco student, and someday hopes to own her own studio. Before returning to school, she was the features editor at the newspaper in Binghamton, New York, and taught ballet classes at a local studio and community college.

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.