Mastering the Quick Change

At performance time, nothing beats the feeling of hearing your musical cue—unless you’re hearing it from the dressing room! Keeping track of your shoes, tights, headpieces and costumes for every number (not to mention the choreography) can be overwhelming. We caught up with professional dancers—and a Broadway wardrobe supervisor—who have mastered the art of the quick change. They gave us the inside scoop on how to make it happen, and how to deal when it doesn’t.

Swap out tricky fastenings. “Tiny snaps and hooks and eyes should be replaced with large snaps and large hooks. If the change is very fast, replace all fastenings with Velcro.” —Julie Ratcliffe, wardrobe supervisor for The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway

Trust yourself. “The best way to approach a quick change is to be calm, methodical and prepared. By a show’s premiere, I’ve rehearsed the quick changes as much as the choreography. When I’m onstage, I want to enjoy the moment—the details of my costume shouldn’t interfere.” —Ruth Brill, Birmingham Royal Ballet artist

Layer your costumes. “In one show I worked on, the costume changes were so quick, the dancers began the show wearing their first three costumes—one on top of the other.” —JR

Get organized. “I’ve always found it easiest to pile my costumes and accessories in the order I need to put them on. That way, the steps to a fast quick-change are all right in front of me.” —Keltie Colleen, commercial dancer and former Radio City Rockette

Be prepared. “Have safety pins, small scissors and needles with black and white thread on hand in case of a malfunction. You need to be flexible, quick and resourceful.” —JR

Keep your cool. “Though quick-change disasters can be horrific (or hilarious), knowing how to deal with them is the mark of a true professional. Quick thinking in the moment can prevent disaster. Plus, the extra excitement can really boost your adrenaline.” —RB

The Pressure's On

You’ll sweat just reading about these real-life quick changes.

“On the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Season 9 tour, I had a costume with a bunch of stringy fabric all over—it was like a spiderweb. One night, I came backstage with one minute to change and it was all tangled. I tried my best, but I couldn’t even pull it over my body. At that point, the music had started, and my partner, Cole Horibe, had to improv a solo for the whole song! —Lindsay Arnold, “Dancing with the Stars” pro

“My scariest change was as an understudy for Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical. I had to take everything off and put on this heavy, beaded costume, a giant hat and new shoes to become the bandleader in the middle of a song. It had to be done in time for me to run behind doors that opened as a big reveal for Elle, who then jumps through a breakaway sign. If I’d been late, there wouldn’t have been anyone there—but I made it!” —Kate Rockwell, Sherrie in Rock of Ages on Broadway

“During one performance as a Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, I forgot to put on the white briefs that went under my dress. I went to strut onstage, but then I realized my mistake. I freaked out, and missed my entire entrance. I had to go find the briefs, and then wait in the wings until I could slip back onstage without making a big fuss. I’m surprised I didn’t get fired!” —Keltie Colleen, former Radio City Rockette

Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!

Serafina

Keep reading... Show less
Trending-posts
Screenshot via YouTube

*suddenly feels the overpowering urge to purchase a million bottles of Pocari Sweat*

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Mandy Moore (photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Bloc Agency)

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.

Read more at dancemagzine.com!

Dancer to Dancer
Martha Graham Dance Company member, Marzia Memoli (photo by Sean Martin, courtesy Martin)

Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored