I came across a video recently in which the director of a dance competition called out to teachers across the nation, asking them, “Is that 2-piece costume really necessary?” He pointed out the fact that the number of people whose bodies are flattered by such a revealing costume is no where near proportionate to the amount of students performing at any given competition. With that statement fresh from his lips, the director asks his audience of dance instructors to explain why they continue to select these 2-piece costumes, with the thousands of more suitable options available to them.
The responses disgusted, but did not shock me. Many teachers admitted, with little shame, that they select 2-piece costumes in hopes of inspiring heavier dancers to lose excess weight. While I am completely in support of maintaining a strong healthy body and striving to create the most beautiful lines possible, I cannot get behind this exploitive intimidation technique. It is a direct breech of trust in an environment where a dancer is supposed to feel most comfortable: on stage.
This presentation was directed mainly towards instructors at competition schools, but I believe it can be applied to the ballet world as well. Of course, there are classical roles where a 2-piece costume is traditional, expected by the audience and therefore a necessity, like Arabian in The Nutcracker or Nikiya in La Bayadare. But for contemporary ballets in which the costuming is entirely subjective to the preference of choreographer, how does one deem a 2-piece costume appropriate for the piece being danced?
You can probably guess by now that I have in fact been cast in a pas de deux during which I must don a 2-piece costume. The last dancer to perform this choreography was the ever-fierce, 6-pack enigma pictured above, Ms. Jennifer Ricci. A Rhode-Island legend and FBP-veteran for almost 25 years, Jenn pulls off the midriff-bearing costumes better than anyone I know. But when you have to follow up that class act with, how should I put this…decidedly less muscular definition? things can get pretty stressful (re: I have been freaking out about it for the past 3 weeks).
SO, I guess what I’m trying to say here, is how do you guys feel about 2-piece costumes? Have you ever had to wear one on stage? Did it turn you into a nervous wreck? Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s midriff shy!
photo by Thomas Nola-Rian