Sketchblog

Merge mode: Dance — Sunday, May 30, 2010

About six weeks ago, I had the idea to merge the two artistic passions of my life into one project -- a ballet about the iterations and relationships of my life, costumed with my fractal art printed on fabric. The choreographic process probably deserves its own blog entry, so I'll focus first on the costume/art element.

I've experimented with having my art printed on fabric at Spoonflower and thought of the possibility of using the different panels of this triptych:

Se Cyre -- a fractal triptych

 

as the basis for my ballet's costumes. The soft, painterly, oogey quality of the fractal's coloring seemed a natural fit for the music I had chosen and the style of contemporary movement I would be using.

I spoke with Ballet Memphis' resident costume designer, Bruce Bui, about my ideas. I showed him a print of the original art, plus expanded views of the three panels which gave us three complete, but differently-colored versions of the fractal structure:

three panels

Bruce made photocopies of these, and then cut them apart with scissors and applied them to sketches of the dancer's bodies to give us some idea of how each would look. Here are scans of his sketches:

costume sketch

costume sketch

costume sketch

Bruce explained that the areas of the fractal structure on the bodices would wrap around the torso, and be connected by illusion -- a stretch fabric that matches the dancers' skin. The hemlines of the skirts would be irregular, as well, following the crevices and curves of the fractal structure.

Bruce figured out what areas of the fractal would be used for each of the costumes, and to what scale those sections needed to be printed. I realized that where he was placing the circular skirt would require a bit more structure in each image than I had originally rendered. I was also concerned about the darkness of the original art and how it might print on the fabric, so I lightened and increased the saturation of the final versions I uploaded to Spoonflower.

fabric panels

To have the best drape and flow in the dresses, we chose Spoonflower's Organic Cotton Interlock Knit. Although it turned out to be a bit heavier and thicker than I imagined, the stretch and weight of the fabric worked very well in the finished costumes. And because the edges do not need to be finished, it was relatively easy to follow the design of the fractal for both the bodice and skirt sections.

Here are some photos of the finished costumes:

Rachel costume front

Rachel costume back

Crystal/Lana front

Crystal/Lana back

Kendall front

Kendall back

And finally, here are some excerpts of the ballet, through you so i, showing the costumes and art in action. The dancers are Kendall Britt, Crystal Brothers, Lana Muhlbach, and Rachel Shumake, of Ballet Memphis.

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