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Bad designs or… “what were they thinking?”

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Fri, Jan 03, 2020 @ 14:01 PM

Oh my…”what were they thinking?” occasionally applies to dance costumes that I have seen online or in person. Thankfully, not very often. But once in a while, I see something that I can only respond with raised eyebrows and shake of my head. With a fashion design degree and over 40 years of being in the business of dance costume design, I have a perspective of what looks good and what is appropriate for all styles of dance costuming. And of course, what looks really bad, no matter what your personal taste is. (Many costumes are not to my personal taste, but are still beautiful costumes.)

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Tags: Costume Design Tips, Costume Budgeting Tips

A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Dec 03, 2019 @ 15:12 PM


“The Sound of Music” debuted as a movie release by 20th Century Fox in 1965. It became a holiday classic even though it didn’t have anything to do with Christmas. But there were lyrical references to sleigh bells, snowflakes, silver-white winters and brown paper packages tied up with strings. Here are some of the lyrics:


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,

bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,

brown paper packages tied up with strings,

these are a few of my favorite things.


Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,

door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.

These are a few of my favorite things.


Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,

snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,

silver white winters that melt into springs,

these are a few of my favorite things.


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Tags: Costume Design Tips, Minnesota Dancer Magazine

DWTS Season 28: Finals Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Nov 26, 2019 @ 13:11 PM

And the Mirror Ball Trophy goes to… Hannah and ‘Minnesota’s Own’ Alan Bersten! What a contentious season, but all in all, we saw some incredible dancing and fabulous costuming (along with some so-so, ho-hum costuming) this season.

With fewer costumes to critique this week, I was able to critique Erin’s gown (so-so), Carrie Ann’s dress (I did NOT find it attractive at all), Tom and Len’s suits (dapper), and Bruno’s rhinestone-encrusted jacket (gorgeous)!

The first round of dances were “Reprise” dances, where all contestants updated previous dances, incorporating their past costumes, as well. The costumes were the same, but the dancing was much improved, making it fun to watch.

Ally and Sasha danced a dynamite Jive in their lavender monochromatic costumes. Lauren and Gleb danced their Fox Trot in yellow. Kel and Witney Jazz danced in high school athletic togs. Hannah and ‘Minnesota’s Own’ Alan presented their Viennese Waltz, also in pastel/light toned costumes.

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

DWTS Season 28: Semi Final Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 @ 14:11 PM

Such an emotional week at “Dancing with the Stars”! But all the dancing was exciting to watch, wasn’t it? We were treated to two dances by all the remaining contestants. The first round was the ‘Redemption Round’…showcasing prior ‘not so good’ routines re-danced with much better results.

But with costuming, there were definitely winners and losers. And remember, I’m voicing my critique from the perspective of a Fashion/Costume Designer with a BFA degree in fashion design and 40+ years at the helm of our small custom performance costume company. And remember, ‘art’ is always up for interpretation and personal bias’. (Just in case any of my ‘fans’ thought I just blog for fun.) I hope that some of my thoughts educate others and influence making good choices with your personal dance costuming. Blah…blah…blah, right?

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

Guest Blog: Increase Your Dancer's Flexibility With These 4 Stretches

Posted by Guest Blogger Katie Groven on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

Flexibility is a fundamental skill for dancers and athletes. The ability to move your body freely will make the execution of skills and exercise much easier. Many dancers struggle with flexibility in their hamstrings and hips, but what they don’t know is that tightness in their hamstrings is directly related to a tight back and tight glutes (buttock region).

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Tags: Guest Blog

DWTS Season 28: Week 9 Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 @ 14:11 PM

Boy Bands and Girl Groups Night on “Dancing with the Stars” this week, with lots of fun music to remember. And all of us “DWTS” fans can breathe a sigh of relief (spoiler alert)…Sean is gone!!!

In order to fill the time, we are now treated to big production numbers with all the Pro dancer staff. The opening number was a visual treat, with blindingly dazzling silver costumes by all the women and ‘so-so’, but appropriate costumes by all the men. (Oh, and guest judge Joey Fatone split his pants – I didn’t notice. But this was remarked on over and over again…an example of reality in a Reality Show!

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

DWTS Season 28: Week 8 Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Nov 05, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

This Week 8 of “Dancing with the Stars” has no particular theme… I’ll call it a ‘Mixed Bag of Leftover Halloween Treats’ week, as many good couples are gone and we are left with one Celebrity that everyone is passing over, except for a particular voting block that may or may not be infiltrated by the Russians!

Many perfect scores were handed out to several couples. I’m being stingy with my perfect costuming scores, only awarding a perfect 10 to Ally, who danced the Paso Doble with Sasha in an absolutely perfect, slinky silver sensation. Her dress was a very modern, sophisticated textured metallic foil, knit gown with traditional back cape/skirt. A beautifully ruched, deep V neckline accented a rhinestone-studded performance bra. A bejeweled waistband accented her luscious costume. Sasha wore the same fabric tailored (and not slinky) motorcycle-esque short jacket over basic black. Stunning!

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

Altering Your Perceptions of Off-The-Rack Costumes

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Mon, Nov 04, 2019 @ 10:11 AM

Altering costumes can be a valuable tool to enlarge your wardrobe. You are very lucky if you perfectly fit ‘off the rack’ costumes that you might find at a dance competition or exhibition. This article is NOT for you, unless you like to ‘tweak’ found costumes to ‘make them your own’.

If you do NOT perfectly fit a ‘ready-made off-the-rack’ costume, but you lust after those fabulous fripperies on those racks, then here are some guide rules for buying-to-alter.

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Tags: Costume Design Tips, Minnesota Dancer Magazine

DWTS Season 28: Week 7 Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 @ 13:10 PM

I enjoyed the opening Zombie routine, didn’t you? It also brought to mind a HS Show Choir routine that Satin Stitches costumed, just a few months ago. North Central HS included some ‘Sparkly Zombie’ costumes that also transformed to another look! We are very proud of these costumes.

This week’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Halloween Night was a monstrous event with lots of special stage lighting, hair, makeup and ‘interesting’ (for the most part) costuming! The plot did, indeed follow a horror film, with a foreseen ending (unfortunately).

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

DWTS Season 28: Week 6 Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Oct 22, 2019 @ 12:10 PM

This week’s competition started off very colorful, with Ally and Sasha dancing the Quick Step. Sasha looked like a crayon, resplendent in bright yellow: Matte-finished yellow shirt, yellow pants, yellow shoes and yellow suspenders. (Yikes!) Ally was also monochromatic a bright crayon green (at least on my monitor). Her Kelly green satin charmeuse skirt matched her spandex leotard, which is difficult to do: coordinating a perfect match between woven and knit fabrics. After doing some research online, I am seeing that there are companies that do this, but for the average ballroom dancer, there are not many options to exactly match these two different types of fabrics, as exactly as seen with Ally’s costume. Her costume was tailored and modest with a nude center front panel that helped elongate her bodice. Of course some rhinestones accented her simple style. Their costumes? ‘Adequate.’

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques


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