Monday, February 22, 2010

Figure skating costumes

After watching a whole bunch of figure skating this week, I've come to the conclusion that the Ice Dancing costumes are the most interesting ones I've seen. The crystal placement, fluttery parts, nude panels, and colour choices are all very complex. Don't get me wrong; all of the costumes in all figure skating disciplines have complex costumes, but the ones in ice dancing take that complexity to a whole new level.

I think the complexity of these costumes is partly because the costumes have to work for each person in the pair and they're trying to make their costumes really work with the music; more so, perhaps, than in other skating fields. They're actually dancing, after all, and they do get judged on interpretation of the music. I think the other reason the costumes are so intricate and complex is because they are similar to non-ice dance costumes; those costumes are also very well thought-out and complex.

Ice dancing costumes aren't without some controversy, of course. This year, all of the Original Dance music selections must be made from folk or country music. The folk music can be from any country or people, and the dance and costume, as well as the choreography, should interpret that dance. The top Russian pair chose to dance to Native Australian music, which some felt was in poor taste.

Their costumes were of nude fabric with white lines on the ribs, a loincloth, and fake green leaves. The two looked like they were trying to be naked with traditional markings. Many - including myself - felt that the costumes and choreography were in poor taste (he tugged on her hair like a caveman, for example), especially since the skaters had never met with any Native Australian people. They researched it on the internet... but I don't think that was quite enough.

If the pair had chosen a different costume or choreography, I wonder if people would have been less shocked and angry. Native Australian elders had apparently approached the pair and they'd agreed to completely change their costume but they didn't; they changed the white markings but that was all. Their actions come across as being insensitive and uncaring to another culture, which reflects badly on them. Maybe the pair felt that any publicity is good publicity?

Making a good costume is more than just knowing how and where to bedazzle a leotard.... the right choice enhances the choreography, while the wrong choice can turn a lot of the world against you.

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