On December 2, 2014, the Steps Conservatory Program students went to see the Dance and Fashion exhibit at FIT. There were many different items featured, including costumes from classical ballets such as Swan Lake and George Balanchine’s Jewels to modern works like Bump by Merce Cunningham, in addition to various pieces from internationally recognized fashion designers for dance, such as Halston (Martha Graham) and Stella McCartney (NYC Ballet).
It was very interesting to see how both the fashion and the dance pieces really reflected the times they were created in. Earlier items had softer lines and colors with more intricate embroidery and beading work, while more contemporary costumes featured structured lines, harsher edges, and brighter colors. When it comes to dance and fashion, what was “acceptable” has been broken and the boundaries have been pushed. Models are now wearing 18-inch pointe shoe heels on the runway, and classical dancers are wearing boots and dresses made from pieces of plastic on stage.
This field trip gave me the opportunity to see first-hand how fashion and dance really borrow from one another. Costumes tend to be very representative of the era they are created (or set) in, to help convey a story for the audience. Meanwhile, fashion designers have been incorporating elements of dance for years – be it classical dance, inspired by pointe shoes, tutus, and headpieces or cultural elements including colorful patterns and designs.
Dance and fashion are far more similar than I initially thought. After seeing the FIT exhibit, it’s safe to say that they have always, and will always, be intertwined.
Steps Conservatory Student