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Costumes, which we are saluting in this special section, have been an essential component of dance from prehistoric times, when a robe or amulet held ritual significance, up through Louis XIV's court at Versailles, the luxurious nursery where ballet was born, to the present century. The glowing costumes of Bakst and Goncharova contributed mightily to the sensational Paris seasons of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes before World War I. Black-and-white practice clothes proved ideal for Balanchine's neoclassic masterpieces; his Four Temperaments (1946) literally could not be seen until Kurt Seligmann's overwrought costumes were sheared away.

The Bedik bush mask--yes, mask--from Senegal (at left) is the oldest and oddest of costumes shown here. The photograph is one of 847 color studies in African Ceremonies, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher's monumental two-volume survey of the continent's traditions and rituals, which Abrams is proudly publishing this month.

Eugene Loring's Billy the Kid (1938), the first ballet on an American theme to remain in the repertory of scores of dance companies, continues to be performed in Jared French's original costumes whenever it's revived. (His designs may have influenced dude ranch wear.) When American Ballet Theatre performed Billy during its fall City Center season, Ethan Stiefel (left) was one of three dancers as Billy.

The 1958 Andy Warhol watercolor, Boot (opposite), was included in a summer exhibit at the University of Virginia's Bayly Art Museum of 107 objects, a bequest in honor of 1949 U.V. alumnus Alan Groh (1923-96) by the late Buzz Miller (1923-99).

No stranger to costumes, Miller danced on stage and in films for, among others, Roland Petit, Bob Fosse, and Jack Cole.

Vanessa Leyonhjelm's costumes for Stanton Welch's Divergence (1994), which Australian Ballet is including on this fall's North American tour, attracted as much attention as the choreography, set to Bizet. Justine Summers (below) wears a tutu made from air-conditioning filters sprayed with automobile paint and a bra made from synthetic rubber.

Along with his fondness for practice clothes, Balanchine made constant use of the great Karinska to dress his many romantic and Americana ballets. Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970) required flowing diaphanous wear for the women in its first three movements. New York City Ballet corps dancers Eva Natanya (turned toward the camera, above) and Deanna McBrearty were photographed in Karinska's costumes for the subscription booklet of City Ballet's 1999-2000 season. (The headbands were donned for the photo sessions with Rodney Smith.)
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Author:Green, Harris
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Next Article:How To Choose, Coordinate, and Care For Your Costume.

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