dance costume art

You Want Me to Paint WHAT?!?!

My daughter’s preferred art is dance. She’s strong, graceful, precise and an absolute joy to watch. Solos are where she really gets to shine – just her and the music telling a story. Oh, and the costume. Don’t forget the importance of the costume in any dance piece.

During her summer planning session, my daughter’s choreographer/costume designer extraordinaire asked if I’d be willing to help bring alive her vision of Makenzie telling the story of finding herself through painting. She wanted me to paint on her costume! (This is a textbook example of saying yes then figuring out how to do it later.)

I had one chance to paint on the actual costume, so a lot of work (and a lot of prayer) was done early to decide type of paint, tools, design, colors, how the paint reacts when stretched and if it makes dancing uncomfortable.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Acrylic paint sits on top of the fabric and can crack when stretched, but only the first layer. After multiple layers are added cracking stopped.
  • Fabric paint soaks into the fabric so doesn’t layer well.
  • Brushes work better than palette knives on fabric, but after a few layers act just like painting on canvas.
  • Metallic paint looks amazing under stage lights, and the thicker the paint the shinier it was on stage.
  • Painting on spandex was not that hard as long as it was taut; painting on mesh is a cruel and unusual form of punishment. (Hope it was worth it, whatever I did.)
  • Surprisingly, it was not uncomfortable to dance in. I was worried the mesh sleeve would be bothersome, but there were no complaints.

Once I got the actual costume and started with that first stroke, I had several days of high stress and very little sleep. I think I once told my husband I was in the “contemplates life’s choices” phase of the design and thought I should probably just move to Alaska and never be heard from again. #artistdrama

Validation came when I heard her squeal with joy upon seeing it the first time.

My favorite parts of the costume are the hidden words of prayer written on the front, and the exposed words that describe my amazing daughter written on the back.

It’s going to be a fun competition season!


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