Proposing alternative after-lives for costumes of the dance stage
University of Roehampton, London
Year of enrolment: 2016 -
Supervisors: Dr Ann R. David and Dr Tamara Tomic-Vajagic
Institution email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dance performances leave behind potent remains in the form of their costumes. These remnants haunt the stage, both evoking the magic of performance, and heralding its death in their failure to wholly reconstitute it. Traditional archival practices entomb these garments in protected conditions, ensuring their physical survival, whilst also perpetuating an existence which is detached from the performance in which they came to life. Placing the vast costume archive of pioneering British choreographer Lea Anderson at its heart, this project seeks to utilise the ‘problems’ of the costume archive as a site for invention, and aims to create an alternative after-life for a selection of the costumes. The research will provide much needed scholarship on costuming within contemporary dance. It seeks to provide strategies for thinking around costume and design-led choreography which are specific to the field, establishing an appraisal of the interactions between costume and the dancing body. It will thus provide a valuable contribution to costume and dance scholarship more broadly. Drawing on primary sources including interviews, design sketchbooks, and the costumes themselves, the research will employ a multidisciplinary approach to situate and document key works from Anderson’s catalogue of performances within appropriate theoretical frameworks. These strands of research will culminate in the creation of alternative archive objects which may comprise elements such as images, text, film and interview, which will be drawn together and housed within a widely accessible virtual archive resource. Thus the work of this important figure in contemporary dance will be appropriately documented and the fabric ghosts of her performances will continue to dance beyond curtain-down. This project utilises the rich opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary research within TECHNE, building on existing individual and institutional links which have led to this project.