The Dancer is the Music Made Visible

I have been designing modern dance costumes since 2000 and it is one of my favorite types of designing because it involves so many elements coming together. There’s dance moves, costumes and most importantly music! It all starts with the music then the choreographer has a vision and then it’s my job to bring that vision to life thru the costume.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite costumes I was happy to create for Dia Fornasiero who has been teaching dance at Highland Park High School in Highland Park, IL for 19 years!

Dia has been dancing all her life. At age 4 her mother enrolled her in dance classes. She went on to receive her MFA in dance from the University of Hawaii.

The name of her dance piece is “Paranormal” inspired by alien abduction and the unknown of the universe. Music by Adam L and Soha “Choose Your Weapon”.

Dia and I met months in advance to discuss costumes after going back and forth a few times with sketches, fabrics etc.. I was ready to get started.
Dia wanted something a bit funky and weird but yet movable at the same time. I looked to the 60’s Mod era for inspiration and found this design that I thought had that weirdness and movement that we were looking for.

From there we discussed about having some kind of weird thing sticking out and the first thing that popped into my mind was re-creating the paper/plastic sculptural dress I did back in 1998.
There were 21 dancers in this piece so we had to keep the design simple, we finally decided to just make an arm “sculpture” for each dancer.

What I did was take oaktag paper and cut out 21 triangles and spray paint each one red and black to match the colors of the fabric.

Once the triangles were dried I cut out some really cool iridescent red and black plastic and stitched the 2 together using a zigzag stitch. Then I slashed lines about 1/2 inch apart to create an origami type feel..Watch the video you’ll have a better understanding what I mean 😉
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Once the triangles were done each one was sewn to an armband that would be attached with velcro and elastic.
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The costumes turned out to be a success and the dance piece was awesome!
Everything came together beautifully!

4 Replies to “The Dancer is the Music Made Visible”

  1. Dia Fornasiero says:

    Bravo Wanda!!! You are an inspiration to me and my dancers. I hope we have many more happy years together collaborating on costumes!!

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