If you keep up on my blogs, you know that besides loving to watch ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and awards shows, I am a Broadway Musical fan…I LOVE to watch great singing and dancing!
Now that the winter doldrums are setting in – with the cold and the darkness, especially here in the upper Midwest, we need to plan for fun adventures to keep us going, until we can become inspired by the refreshing sights, sounds and smells of the greenery of spring…Yes, spring is coming!
My daughter and I had never experienced the sights and sounds of the Christmas season in New York City, so this was the year for this fun adventure! It was cold, windy and snowy, but also VERY sparkly, with Holiday markets and lots of Christmas decorations adorning traditional trees and department store windows. It was so inspiring!
But the best part of our trip was enjoying two Broadway musicals – both with fabulous costuming, and then the grand production of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes. Most likely you are reading this in late December or early January, so yes, it is too late for booking a trip for this winter season, but it IS ‘spectacular’. And anyone who enjoys singing, dancing and Christmas – put this show on your list. There is nothing more fun than the Radio City Theater all decked out in its Christmas finery and watching 36 pairs of high-kicking legs! (Yes, in fabulous costumes!)
As a costume designer (with a dance costume specialty) I get visual inspiration from all types of performances. As dancers, you should also be looking for choreographic inspirations. I love getting my inspiration from Broadway Show costuming. This Christmas in the City’s trip featured seeing “Hello Dolly” (with Bette Midler, a personal favorite) and “Anastasia”. The over-the-top “Dolly” costuming was a real treat for me (designed by Santo Loquasto, who received the Tony Award this season for Best Costume Design), and watching the Russian and French period costuming of Anastasia (designed by Linda Cho) came to life.
In addition to these visual costume extravaganzas, I included two exhibits at my favorite FREE (yes, there are many FREE activities in NYC) Fashion Institute of Technology Costume Museum and the Downton Abby Exhibition that just happened to be set up during our visit (not free).
What inspires you? To me, experiences outweigh ‘things’ and the memories enrich our existence. I will keep ‘visions of costumes’ dancing in my head, to tide me over until the flowers of spring are able to inspire me.
I have had a ‘thing’ for the Rockettes since I first saw their traveling show in St. Louis, MO while I was exhibiting our Satin Stitches’ dance team costumes, back in 1993! The Rockettes are an upscale version of our own incredible Minnesota high school high-kick dance teams.
Several costume designers are listed in the Christmas Spectacular program, including Gregg Barnes. Barnes designed the Broadway ‘Aladdin’ costumes. (Some Aladdin costumes were manufactured by Parsons-Meares Ltd. – a New York company that I had the opportunity to tour and to view original Aladdin sketches and some prototypes, several years ago.) My design hero, Bob Mackie has also designed Rockette costumes in the past.
The famed movie director, Vincente Minnelli designed the iconic toy soldier costumes that were first debuted in 1933. Currently, the Rockettes are still wearing a version of this costume. I will also mention that years ago, I had the opportunity to tour the back stage costume storage area to see all their iconic Rockette costumes up close.
During this year’s performance, I particularly enjoyed their latest ‘icicle’ costumes that include 3 slightly different dresses, done in a purple, blue and turquoise. And thought back to the light blue ‘icicle’ dresses that Satin Stitches created for ‘our’ Minnesota Illuminaires several years ago (before the new Rockettes version!). These Rockette ‘icicle’ costumes could easily dance a Latin routine. Inspirational costumes can be modified to fit many dance performance styles, so when looking for inspiration for your new dance costume – keep in mind that inspiration could be found almost anywhere! Creativity is based on visual sparks – something will set the ideas flowing to inspire your imagination.
And we all need extra inspiration during our Minnesota winters, so get out there and do and see and let the inspirations flow!
(Submitted for January 2018 issue of Minnesota Dancer)
© Deborah J. Nelson/Satin Stitches Ltd.