Friday, May 17, 2013

Headpieces Can Be Hazardous

headpiece available at tiaras4dance
I feel like I'm the only ballerina who thinks a costume can be complete without a headpiece. Don't get me wrong, I love a beautiful headpiece--but I don't think that you have to have one. Nor do I think bare heads makes your production look amateur. But many, many people around here disagree with me.

In the spirit of Jungian analysis (or maybe not; I only took one psych class in college) I think I've traced these feelings to their source: that one time my headpiece got caught in the scenery and I spent the finale looking like I was being hanged. (Which was not entirely inaccurate.)

The setting of the ballet was a little village in the countryside. The wings were made of netting (the holes were each about a square inch) with tree trunks and branches overlaid. It was very pretty and I really liked how the wings looked irregularly shaped from the audience. But remember the netting, because it played a role in my demise.

Many aspects of that production felt rushed. The sets were great and the dancers were well-rehearsed but the costumes weren't all ready for dress rehearsal and there was some kind of delay getting into the theatre. The tech and dress rehearsals were squashed into a much shorter time slot than usual and everyone's nerves were a little frayed. For some reason (probably to avoid exhausted people killing each other) the director decided not to run the finale in rehearsal. This seemed like no big deal since finales are essentially people running in, standing in straight lines, doing a couple of simple steps in unison and then holding a pose. A monkey could do it. In fact, monkeys probably have.

But no matter how close to the opening we were running, heaven forbid that anyone should go onstage without decorations in their hair. Never mind that the costume department didn't have time to make anything. Never mind that no one had time to run to a craft store for supplies. If you spray paint it silver, it counts as a headpiece! At least, that's what someone thought as they gathered sticks from their backyard, hot glued them to a large bobby pin and painted the whole mess silver.

It looked ridiculous. It looked stupid. And it ended up pinned above my bun. (A classical bun, of course.)

The opening went well. It was a lovely show. And at the end we all ran on, stood in a straight line and danced in unison, ending with soutenous, kneel. [Cue applause.]

Oh, but wait. I was on the end of my line. And I did my turn right in front of the wing. And the sticks in my hairpiece got caught in the netting. And I couldn't kneel. I was the only person standing on stage. And it looked rather like I was hanging from the tree branch.

When the lights went out I put both of my hands on my bun and yanked as hard as I could. The "headpiece" broke in half, some of it still dangling from the tree. As I returned my costume that night the costume mistress demanded tartly "Who broke this?!" "I don't know," I lied, "It belonged to someone else." That woman was scary. I don't feel bad about lying.

And thus was born my belief that it's okay to leave your hair plain.

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