Costumographic Synergy: devising the costume performance

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The traditional role of the choreographer is to devise the dance performance, whilst the costume designer creates the costume, usually to enhance the aesthetic of the piece. Researching her new book Costume in Performance: Materiality, Culture, and the Body (2017), Barbieri found several examples throughout history of costume preceding and directing the process of choreographing the performance. Conventional approaches to choreography are challenged further by progressive experimental costume performance and the growing incorporation of costume design as part of the devising of ‘total theatre’ pieces. 
This presentation will analyse two distinct practical research case studies; costume performance project Elizabeth & The Three Sisters (2016) and visual costume research project SESSIONS #1-4 (2019), to examine the question: is there an effective working methodology for designing and devising costume performance that creates a symbiosis between costume/materials and the moving body, and consequently design and choreography? The collaborative relationship between designer, costume, performer - choreographer, and the importance of both the costume and the live body in the creation process will be discussed. Reference will be made to Jacques Lecoq’s Laboratoire D’Étude du Movement and Mann & Summerlin’s concept of ‘costume as choreographer’ (2016), and research outcomes will be contextualised in relation to Ingold’s theories of (active) materials, Bennett’s concept of assemblages, Lane’s mimodynamic process, collaborative approaches, and collective intentionality. 
The presentation will conclude with a proposed methodological framework for devising costume performance that offers best practice to the collaborating designer and performer – choreographer, offering a shared vocabulary that can transcend specific art forms to encourage clear communication and project success. 
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2022
Event15th NOFOD Conference: Moving, relating, commanding. Choreographies for bodies, identities and ecologies. - The Danish National School of Performing Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 5 Jul 20228 Jul 2022


Conference15th NOFOD Conference: Moving, relating, commanding. Choreographies for bodies, identities and ecologies.
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Bibliographical note

The Nordic Forum for Dance Research, NOFOD, is a non-profit organization that promotes collaboration between dance scholars and practitioners. This it does by arranging seminars and conferences as well as spreading information through discussions, performances and publications on dance. The purpose of the organization is to enhance, empower and bring together diverse forms of dance research, knowledge and practice especially in the Nordic context.

NOFOD defines dance in the broadest possible terms; ballet, modern dance, contemporary dance, new dance, post-modern dance, salsa, tango, hip-hop, folk dance, ballroom dances, line dancing, etc. Thus the field encompasses a range of theatrical and participatory dance forms constitutive of Scandinavian as well as Non-Scandinavian cultures. To study the significance of the dance event for participants and spectators, NOFOD embraces a wide range of research methods. Some employ dance-specific modes of inquiry such as movement analysis or choreographic reconstruction; others are drawn from related disciplines such as musicology, physical education, theater studies, ethnology, gender studies, artistic or participatory research etc.

NOFOD has arranged a Nordic research conference every second year since 1990. These events featured presentation papers, lecture-demonstrations, panel discussions, movement workshops and performances on a broad range of topics. Each conference has produced a proceeding in which papers have been published on the authors’ discretion.


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