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Costuming (clothing) which furthers the story....

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Clothing (costuming) can be used not only to cover the character (actor/dancer, etc.), set the time period and the social status but also to dynamically further the story.


In a production of "Giselle" with Karen Kain and Frank Augustyne (National Ballet of Canada) there is such a moment in Act I.  Albrecht has been pretending to be a common peasant.  One doesn't notice that his shirt sleeves are rolled up (as peasants wear their shirts) until the approach of his aristocratic betrothed, at which time - in preparation to meeting her, he carefully rolls his sleeves down and smoothes them out.  How the sleeves are worn indicates social placement.  Albrecht moves from one social level to another through that action. We still use the phrase:  "roll up your sleeves and get to work," which would apply to those who work.


I was watching a re-run of the now classic movie "The Godfather."  In the scene where Michael Corleone is hiding out in Sicily and he sees a beautiful girl walking along a road, he stops at a local tavern and sits down at a table outside.  Not realizing the girl is the daughter of the tavern keeper, he describes her.  The father is dressed in a shirt, trousers, with his suspenders casually hanging by his sides.  Realizing that the girl being described is his daughter, he angrily goes into the tavern and begins to shout at his family, feeling he has been disgraced.


Michael calls him to come outside and begins to assure him that his intentions are serious and respectful.  As soon as the father realizes the seriousness of the conversation - he pulls up his suspenders.  He is now dressed for the  occasion.


It is but a moment in the scene - as it is a moment in the scene in "Giselle."  And, yet it does speak volumes.   

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