Wednesday, October 03, 2007

DK's costumes -- ooh, slam!

Once upon a time, I expressed some high-quality distaste for the horrible costumes in Dance Kaleidoscope's Magical Mystery Tour show last year, and also some distaste for the costume designer's professionalism. The same designer was responsible for the costuming for DK's recent The Planets, performed at Clowes Hall with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. It was an excellent show, and included DK's "Earth" from their Four Seasons production. Laura did an amazing job with the lighting, the symphony was equally amazing, and the dancers and choreography were truly great. The weak link was the costuming for Planets. They weren't awful, by Magical Mystery Tour standards, but they were definitely the low point of the show. Some worked well, but others glared and distracted.

I'm amused to know that I'm not the only person who thought so. The Indiana Business Journal reviewed the show as well in their arts column. Here's the part about Planets:
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra-led by guest conductor James Lowe of the New Bristol Sinfonia-seemed to relish being out of the sightlines for its performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets at Clowes Memorial Hall (Sept. 22-23). Turning the stage over to the skilled company of Dance Kaleidoscope, the pit-parked ISO glided from the sweet strings of "Venus, the Bringer of Peace" through the majestic "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" to the evocative fade out of "Neptune, the Mystic," reminding listeners that this popular piece is popular for a suite of very good reasons. So good was the sound at the Sunday performance that I found myself, often, closing my eyes to fully soak it in. OK, there was another reason, too: the unfortunate costumes inflicted on the DK dancers on stage. What were we to make of the oversized codpieces, confettied bathing caps and bubbled helmets? Was there a reason to saddle a hardworking dancer with what looked like an aluminum foil headpiece? Was this the most respected dance troupe in the city or the cast of a science fiction porno film from 1977?

Whimsy? I'd buy that if it matched the tone of the choreography and overall design of the presentation. As it stands, the costuming choices were baffling and a distraction-and inflicted more harm on the program than a bad note or a dancer's misstep would have.

Better served was the opening piece-Frank Felice's "Earthworks," a gripping work (alas, with recorded music) given a clear choreographed vision-making it as much about birth as it was about Earth-by DK leader David Hochoy.

"Science fiction porno film from 1977". Heh. That's a great image. The funny thing is that the writer, Lou Harry, is a fan of DK. You can tell; he was appalled by the atrocities committed against the company by their costumer.

And, an addendum to my previous rant about the costuming for the Beatles show. I heard recently about the designer throwing a fit about Dance Kaleidoscope's rampant "unprofessionalism" for not hiring a costume shop to make the costumes; he said something like, "I'm a designer. Someone else should build." Great, Barry, but that argument becomes invalid as soon as you sign a contract to design and build. The time for that batch of whining is earlier; once you're building late and over budget, it's no excuse to say that, really, this should be someone else's job. Suck it up and do the job you were hired for. Ideally, do it on time, on budget, and without an excess of griping -- that would be... what's the word? Oh, yes: professional.

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