The Tempest: Costume Retrospective – Part 1

Sometime early on in the process, Thomas came to us and said he wanted to have some of the Ariels doing something that looked like this:

That’s Loie Fuller, performing her “Serpentine Dance.” Pretty cool right? We kind of freaked. We looked up the patent. We brainstormed. That looks like, after all, a very large amount of fabric.
Loie Fuller - "Garment for Dancer" Patent And it is. If I had to guess, I’d think that’s a good 7-10 yards depending on length. There were a number of reasons we thought anything that big was going to be a bad idea:

  1. Height. These girls were going to be platforms at least 8 feet up in the air.
  2. Climbing. They weren’t going to have steps, but ladders. Anything too big would also be too heavy.
  3. Cost. For one scene – for five minutes – we were having a hard time making the cost case for the kind of fabric we’d need.
  4. Time. Something that big is just time consuming.

We didn’t forget about it, but we shelved it, to let the inactive parts of our brains think about it. And then one of our Ariels showed up with a curtain. From WalMart. That were $10 each, and it was 52×84. She’d seen it pretending to be water in a window display at a local cafe. Did we mention our cast is awesome? So these things were pretty dang cool, and probably would work.

Thusly armed with curtains, we made something to approximate Loie Fuller’s gigantic serpentine dance costume, and in the end, we got this, which I think is pretty awesome. And pretty ingenious. And pretty much does the job 100%. Nothing like a total win.

NFDC's Serpentine Dance Costume