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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

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!

James and Emma danced a Jive to the Girl Group – The Pointer Sisters. Their colorful choreography was accented with black and white costuming. James wore black trousers and suspenders with a white mini-printed shirt. Emma wore a black and white printed leotard with organza black and white ruffles. One of my pet-peeves of bad costuming details is that annoying, ugly nude elastic across the back, hitching to a side bra-area that just stops in never-never land. Disappointing costumes.

Speaking of disappointing, Sean and Jenna danced the Argentine Tango to Destiny’s Child music in very classy costumes. Unfortunately these costumes did not distract enough from Sean’s dancing performance. One of my personal least-favorite colors would be yellow-green. But I liked their costumes, lots! Sean’s jacket was created from a beautiful textured, woven fabric. And Jenna’s costume was exquisite. I loved the shiny satin showing on the underside of her very fluid skirt, and the clusters of scattered rhinestones.

Hannah and Minnesota’s Own Alan performed a Salsa to a TLC tune. After her dance, Hannah kept tugging on her bodice, as she was concerned that it wasn’t staying in place and providing adequate coverage. Yikes! There was no visible mesh…perhaps in hind sight, there should have been mesh to keep her in her comfort zone. The reptile printed spandex costume was accented with beaded fringe. Alan’s coordinating shirt and trousers were forgettable.

Ally and Sasha dazzled during their Spice Girls’ Samba. Did I love Ally’s costume? You bet I did, but I must admit that I would personally LOVE to be able to wear thigh-high leopard printed boots! Except for the low-cut front bodice, her costume was actually reasonably modest with lots of coverage, and yet, very sexy. I also appreciated the tufts of bronze and black bugle-beaded fringe, creating lots of movement. Thankfully, Sasha was sporting a coordinating print shirt with simple black pants. Yes, it would have been too much, if he was ‘matchy-matchy’ with a leopard print shirt!

Lauren and Gleb provided a fresh Quick Step with yellow and black polka dots, dancing to the Supremes. Lauren’s modest costume was created with the traditional 1/3 to 2/3 proportion with her long, sheer chiffon polka dotted skirt and her elbow-length split sleeves. Modest, but definitely not dowdy! Men in yellow? Always scary, but Gleb was glamorous! Thankfully this was not a costume for Sean.

Kel and Witney danced a dynamite Paso Doble to En Vogue, with less-than dynamite duds. Leather cummerbund and boots over a more basic turtleneck shirt and trousers for Kel, was ho-hum. A sort-of-but-not-really-edgy black satin skirted costume with non-stretch sheer midriff area on Witney, could have looked better (and not sloppy) if stretch mesh were used. The bright spot of her costume was the ruched leather-looking upper bodice and real straps.

For Round 2 for this week, James and Emma performed a Jazz routine to NSYNC. Emma wore a really, really fun, foiled sort of silver-gunmetal-black camo printed costume, comprised of those sexy thigh-high boots and various other costume pieces! James’ hardware embellished outfit was ‘spot on’ (as was his dancing, as per the judges)!

Hannah and Minnesota’s Own Alan, danced a Tango to BTS. They wore one of my favorite ‘couple costumes’ of the night, with Alan ‘stylin’ in his black velvet suit with deep red shirt. Loved it! And Hannah’s red and black chiffon gown gave her ‘Old School Hollywood Glam’ as Bruno noted. The detailing on her bodice was exquisite!

Sean and Jenna’s second effort with their Fox Trot was to a One Direction song. And I loved their outfits! Classy and elegant with fun detailing, including a fun textured, quasi striped jacket for Sean, and flirty flower petal accents for Jenna’s glamorous gown which was also fluid and classy. Definitely a good look to ‘go out on’ Sean! And just a reminder that I love monochromatic color schemes.

Lauren and Gleb’s costumes for their Rumba to the Back Street Boys, were my other favorite 'couple costumes' of the competition this week. Silver was the color, with woven silver tissue lame for Lauren’s bustier and asymmetrical skirt. Shiny, sexy and classy! Gleb coordinated monochromatically with his shiny shirt and trousers.

Kel and Witney presented a dusty grape costumed Viennese Waltz inspired by Boys II Men. I loved Kel’s costume with his tailored and textured silk suit. Unfortunately I don’t think that Witney’s costume matched the classiness of Kel’s. Her sheer mesh with underwhelming ruffles were monochromatic, but not real exciting. I loved the concentrated rhinestones over her bustline and along her back zipper.

Closing out the competition were Ally and Sasha with a totally 80’s Jazz, New Kids on the Block routine. My favorite of these costumes, was Ally’s oversized red jacket with huge shoulder pads. Those of us who lived through the 80’s had similar jackets in our closets, and we loved them! (Mine was denim…) Combining denim with separates worked well, and the addition of a red hoodie (just the hood) was inspired, for Sasha. So with just a sprinkling of rhinestones, these non-Glam costumes were "to the max!" And yes, Ally was channeling Paula Abdul, a big favorite of mine in the 80’s!

So now that the big cloud has lifted, we can start fresh with the semi-finals, next week. Are we in agreement?

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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

DWTS Season 28: Week 5 Disney Night Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

*****Spoiler Alert! Disney Night on “Dancing with the Stars” created some magic and no contestants are going home!!! Other Disney magic – was the opening number, video-taped at Disneyland with NO ONE ELSE AROUND! My guess is that this may have occurred in the middle of the night…as it was dark and I don’t think Disney could have created that!

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques

DWTS Season 28: Week 4 Costume Critique

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Wed, Oct 09, 2019 @ 12:10 PM

It was a magnificent monochromatic medley of classy costumes, this 4th week of competition on “Dancing with the Stars”! It was definitely a tasty visual treat for me! Ahhh….what is more pleasing than mint green matching fabrics with mint green embellishment on both dancers???? ...Maybe matching magenta on both dancers?

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Tags: DWTS Season 28 Costume Critiques


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