Monthly Archives: February 2016

  • Dance Competitions 101: The First-Timer’s Guide to a Successful Competition Season

    CC Blog PostBy: Terri Gustafson, Relationship Manager

    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to competition season. To those of you who are preparing for your first dance competition as a studio owner or teacher: congratulations and break a leg! While this time of year can be stressful and trying for first-timers, if you are prepared and organized, it can also be highly rewarding and fun.

    As someone who has been lucky enough to judge numerous competitions throughout my more than 30 years of teaching dance, I can attest to the fact that a studio owner’s competition responsibilities can be difficult to juggle. To help manage the chaos, here are a few tried and true practices that I’ve discovered over the years that will keep you, your dancers and their parents calm, cool and collected during competition season:


      1. Communicate with Parents: Open the lines of communication with parents several months prior to upcoming competitions. With busy schedules to manage, parents will very much appreciate being made aware of competitions with enough notice to make educated decisions on which ones their child can participate in. To make parents’ scheduling decisions easier, try to avoid conflicts with other studio events, charity efforts, holidays and community events. Additionally, be sure to emphasize and regularly reiterate deadlines for signing up and providing registration fees.Beyond scheduling, be sure to communicate about travel logistics, as well. Providing as many details as you can, including hotel options and travel costs, is courteous and helps streamline the decision-making and scheduling processes.I always encourage studio owners to speak with parents in-person about competitions so that you can provide an in-depth overview of logistics and be available to answer questions or address concerns. Detailed handouts can be very helpful, especially when coupled with an in-person Q&A session.
      2. Inspire Confidence in Your Students: Have conversations with your dancers before each competition about how to remain calm and mature during tricky situations, such as forgetting their routine, or responding to a music malfunction. Helping them feel prepared will translate to helping them feel more confident. Remind your students that you are there for them to review choreography, help them warm-up and to cheer them on. Overall, be a positive role model. Shared lessons you’ve learned from first hand experiences competing or performing. Also, set an example by keeping professional throughout the competition – when your team wins, be humble and gracious; when you don’t, be a good sportsman.
      3. Tackle Competition Logistics Early: Checking registration deadlines and costs, as well as participation requirements, such as age groups and featured dance genres, are the first items to consider when determining if an event is a good fit for your team. When possible, try to look into these details sooner than later to save yourself a headache down the road. You don’t want to commit to a competition to later realize key members of your team are not available!Once you are confirmed to attend a competition, arrive early on the first day and take a tour of the facility noting where bathrooms, locker rooms, stages and water fountains are located and determine a meeting place for your team. After you’ve taken care of these matters, you may find yourself with some down time, in which you can take a walk to check out participating vendors.
      4. Pack Your Survival Kit: Remember to take care of yourself during long competitions by staying hydrated, well-nourished and rested. Help take care of yourself and your team by packing a survival kit.Pack a large bag with water bottles, snacks, back up music, make-up, oil wipes, hairspray, safety pins for clothing malfunctions and bobby pins for hair malfunctions and ice packs. It’s also wise to keep administration materials close to your side, such as an organized grid outlining your personal schedule, registration confirmations, emergency contact lists, floor plans, and lists of students participating in each routine. Additionally, don’t plan to have access to an outlet all day, so be sure to pack a portable battery pack.

    Competition season is an exciting time to enjoy, and a great way for your team and their parents to bond, so prepare as best you can. Remember your smile and compassion and be encouraging to all those participating.

    What are you most looking forward to this competition season? Tell us in the comments section below.

  • Ballets About Love: The Stories Behind the Movement

    Ballets about Love - Curtain Call Costumes

    On the heels of Valentine’s Day, romance lingers in the air, giving us the perfect excuse to talk about love.

    While most of us hope that the love we find for ourselves will be simple and unconditional, ballets explore love in all its forms, from silly and fun to dramatic and trying. In short, ballets feature romantic stories that run the gamut from true, to displaced to forbidden loves.

    Some ballets retell love stories found in literary classics, such as Shakespeare’s comedic and whimsical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or his dramatic and tragic Romeo and Juliet, a tale of star-crossed lovers from rivaling families. On the other hand, some enchanting love stories, including Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, were fairy tales and ballets well before they were given new life as Disney classics.

    Many ballets feature romantic relationships, but some are lesser known. Yet that doesn’t mean their stories are any less poignant or powerful. Read on for the stories behind two of our favorite ballets in honor of Saint Valentine:

    Coppélia is a comical ballet in which Dr. Coppélius creates a life-size dancing doll (which shares the story’s name) that sits on a neighborhood balcony. The doll is so lifelike that Franz, a village boy, becomes infatuated with the doll and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilda, to pursue Coppélia.

    One day, Dr. Coppélius drops his keys, giving Swanhilda the opportunity to sneak around and ultimately learn that Coppélia is indeed a doll and not a person. Separately, Franz makes an attempt to get closer to Coppélia, whom he believes to be a beautiful girl. Shortly after, Dr. Coppélius returns to find Franz in his home. Enraged, the doctor gives Franz sleeping powder to ultimately sacrifice Franz’s soul to give Coppélia life.

    Swanhilda, who has been hiding in the doctor’s workshop behind the doll, escapes with Franz who realizes his one true love will always be Swanhilda.

    In the final act, Swanhilda and Franz are about to exchange their wedding vows when the angry Dr. Coppélius appears, claiming damages, but the mayor pays him off and the celebration continues.


    See Curtain Call costumes inspired by Coppélia:

    Peasant Dance
    Wonderful World
    Today's Song
    Singing in Spring

    Swan Lake
    Despite its initial unpopularity, Swan Lake, inspired by Russian folk tales, is now one of the most beloved ballets.

    Prince Siegfried, upset about not being able to marry for love, sets off in hunt of swans with a group of friends. After being separated from the group, Siegfried becomes entranced when one of the swans transforms into a beautiful girl, Odette.

    Odette and the other swans are victims of a terrible spell cast by the evil, owl-like sorcerer Von Rothbart. By day they are turned into swans and only at night, with the tears of Odette's mother dropped in the lake, do they return to human form. The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever.

    Seeing that Siegfried and Odette are falling in love, a concerned Von Rothbart arrives in disguise with his enchantress daughter, Odile, who is transformed so that she appears identical to Odette. Siegfried looks to marry her thinking she is Odette. Odette is distraught at Siegfried’s mistake, accusing him of betrayal.

    Heartbroken, Siegfried chooses to die alongside Odette by leaping into the lake before ascending into the heavens together.

    No matter what type of love these stories feature—tragic or lighthearted, complicated or straightforward—the common thread is that each is told beautifully by ballet dancers.

    What’s your favorite ballet about love? Tell us in the comments below!


    See Curtain Call costumes inspired by Swan Lake:

    Shimmering Lights
    Matte Satin Bodice

  • Inspiring Confidence Through Costumes Part Two: 2016 Trends


    Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer

    Q&A with Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer

    Entering the world of performing arts opens the door to a number of professions that inspire creativity, talent and passion. Dancers and other performers, of course, make the list, but so do producers, set designers, choreographers, musicians and…….you guessed it! Costume designers.

    It’s impossible to ignore the talent of costume designers this time of year as we enter the height of awards season. With popular movies like Mad Max and Cinderella nominated for Academy Awards for best costume design, and television series like Downton Abby captivating audiences across the country, the critical contribution of costume designers in making stories come to life is undeniable.

    Here at Curtain Call our designers are dedicated to making your performances come to life by designing costumes that make every dancer feel confident. Not only should dancers look and feel good, they should also know that their costumes are reflecting the latest trends and most in-demand styles.

    Read on for a Q&A with Curtain Call designer Jessica Saunders about how and where she gathers inspiration and insights into the latest costume trends.

    How long have you worked in costume design? How did you get into this field?
    JS: I have been a costume designer at Curtain Call for the past 14 years. Prior to my time with Curtain Call, I actually designed sleepwear upon receiving my undergraduate degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco.

    What inspires you?
    JS: This is a question that we, as designers, get asked a lot. When you’re doing something you love, from the heart, it never gets old, so honestly, I get inspiration everywhere and from everything. I definitely follow red carpet trends, high fashion runways and movie fashion. But I also rely on some trend forecasting sites (Trendstop, Fashion Vignette, PopSugar, Vogue), Pinterest, music videos, and I even gather inspiration from things like home décor. Our team of four designers will also shop the market in major fashion capitals like NYC and LA and drop into professional performances, like Broadway shows.

    How many designers are on your team? Are you each responsible for a certain line?
    JS: There are four designers on the Curtain Call team. For the most part, we all have an equal share of every line. We have changed it up over the years, but it’s best to have everyone’s input in making a particular line the very best it can be.

    What dance genre is your favorite to design costumes for?
    JS: This definitely changes from year to year. I really enjoy the process of researching and gathering inspiration for a line. The types of inspiration I come across really determine my excitement when beginning to design for a particular genre. This year, I am really eager to design for the Pop Hop line. I have quite a few fun prints I am excited to use and some trendy silhouettes gathered from street fashion.

    Were you ever a dancer?
    JS: Yes! Throughout middle school and high school I studied basically every style of dance, but tap was always my favorite.

    What are your thoughts on street style influencing style in the studio or on stage and vice versa?
    JS: Street style absolutely inspires stage style—especially when you consider a style like hip hop, which is heavily inspired by street dancers. You definitely see street trends, like athleisure, for example, making its way into popular dance styles.

    What costume styles are going to be trendy in 2016 (colors, fabrics, silhouettes, etc.)? How do these trends differ from last year? Years past?
    JS: This year we will definitely see cold-shoulder treatment, embroidered cut outs and panels, bold graphic patterns and patterns with shine. Cold-shoulder treatments are coming back in style, while bold graphic patterns and patterns with shine have been trendy for several years now. Sequins are a forever staple in dance. They look fantastic on stage, and that will never change.

    Additionally, a few more styles that are going to be big this year are:

    • Geometric panel designs, giving a modern or athleisure feel for jazz and contemporary
    • X style necklines, incorporating a version of shoulderless sleeves for contemporary
    • Feminine ornamental laces on nude mesh for ballet and contemporary

    How often do trends in different dance genres affect each other or cross over?
    JS: So many of our styles can be used in multiple dance genres. This is particularly the case in the Jazz and Contemporary sections. Fabric and music cross dance genres so it makes sense that our designs do too. Curtain Call customers are full of creativity. They are always coming up with great ways to use our styles in ways we haven’t considered. Their originality is an inspiration to us.

    The 2016 Pantone colors of the year are Rose Quartz and Serenity. Will these influence costume designs this year?
    JS: Absolutely. You can expect to see Rose Quartz and Serenity appear more frequently in street and stage style, especially since fabric vendors rely heavily on Pantone predictions.

    Are there are other colors that you think will take center stage / or that you’d like to see become a top color in 2016?
    JS: Red, pink and other bright colors look great on stage. Gem tones, which have been on the Pantone list in recent years, will be popular, as will gold.

    What advice do you have for aspiring costume designers?
    JS: Stay humble and open to new experiences! Being a designer is so much more than making pretty sketches. Staying creative year after year, following a timeline with stressful expectations and plenty of noncreative assignments is what the job really entails. Dedication and hard work will make you an asset to your team and a success no matter what path you take.

    What do you hope will be the biggest 2016 costume trend? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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