2 piece or not 2 piece?


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

i’ll spend the time, you spend the money

photo 2photo 3 photo 4

Hello, lovelies!  Sorry for abandoning you a bit, there.

After finishing Peter Pan, things slowed down only slightly.  I took one day of rest before heading back into the studio to begin work on a project with Alex and Viktor Plotnikov (hint: we are filming a music video!).  Viktor is one of my favorite choreographers, not only for the beautiful language of movement his body seems to have effortlessly created as if writing an entire alphabet of steps is just a natural thing to do, but for the coolness he exudes.  And I don’t mean the obvious type of cool that makes you jealous, or nervous, or perplexed.  I mean a cool so genuinely easy-going and real that you might not believe it comes from the same man whose brilliant mind made dying orchids dance and instruments inhabit their musicians.

Today Viktor started rehearsal by asking me how old I am.  After responding, “22”, my mind wandered back through the years, running its fingers through every strangely beautiful ballet of his creation I had ever danced.  I remembered Carmen, and Kinetic 2, and The Widow’s Broom, which I jumped into the day before the performance, back in my senior year of high school.  I remembered the time we worked together at Jacob’s Pillow, where he set a 3-movement piece in one week, on a 22-person company who had all just met for the first time that day.  I remembered Untitled, a solo in which I attempted to unwind a mentally unstable brain, and Blue Canary, where my classmates and I danced like hobos to a Russian song sang by an Italian man in (mostly) English.  Then my mind landed on Alone.  Set to the soothing strum of a guitar and dressed in simplicity, this piece remained hauntingly true to its title.  When I was 16 and performing Alone for YAGP, its eerie mood didn’t quite occur to me; At that age, dancing onstage in a biketard for a hundred strangers and a panel of stiff judges makes it a little tough to feel alone.  But when I think of this dance now, I realized how utterly fitting the sad appellation was.  It was my first time ever working solo with Viktor, 5 years that feel like 15 ago.

Tugging me from my memories, I hear Viktor say, “I know some people think it’s hell to do this, but I would live for 5,000 years if I could, just to see what will happen to us”, with a laugh.  I look up to see him beaming towards no one in particular, a smile as big as the cheshire cat spread across his face and his signature eye twinkle catching the mid-morning light.  I’m convinced that’s the secret to his creativity.  When children grow into teenagers and then young adults, every day that little twinkle behind their pupils fades a bit, only to be replaced by the cloudy onset of jaded realities.  Every day that special light where imagination sprouts becomes duller and duller as we begin to understand the limits that life presents.  But the difference with Viktor is, he never lost his sparkle.  He has the boundless imagination of a child backed by the brain of a smart, detail-oriented man, and that’s what makes him brilliant.