Monday, June 25, 2012

Buena Vista Street - Grand Re-Opening!

This post is overdue but fun, so only slight apologies for the delay! ;)

After long anticipation, Disney's California Adventure opened its newly retrofied Buena Vista Street and Carsland on June 15th, and the day before they closed the park for final preparations and a private party for press and employees. To add some fun to the street inspired by Los Angeles in the 1920's & 30's, Chris & I joined some friends in dancing to Dean Mora's Modern Rhythmists. So much fun to be there at the re-opening of Buena Vista Street, dancing to LA's best and most authentic early jazz band!

Chip & Dale dancing the Charleston

Dancers en route to California Adventure

Twilight on Buena Vista Street

Chris and I joined dancers from Pasadena Ballroom Dance 
and the Hollywood Hotshots for the event

Hollywood Hotshots Minn Vo & Stefanie Klausman performing "Campus Capers"

After the first band set I changed outfits and got a quick photo with the Red Car Trolley. 
So neat to see this bit of LA history recreated!

Chip (or is it Dale?) dancing with some visitors.

With Katie, Hollywood Hotshot and fellow FIDM graduate!

Pluto getting down!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Maharaja Costume

Since we're talking Majaraja costumes, I thought I'd share one I made for myself a few years ago. (oh, no, I just checked and it was in 2008...that was a long time ago already!!)

The Friday night theme at Camp Hollywood was Maharaja -- Chris wore a tuxedo (inspired by Hal), and I made a "1940's does Arabian Nights" playsuit - you know, like how all the costumes in period movies of the 30's & 40's look more like contemporary fashions with only a slight nod to the past. That's what I was going for.

Again, this is a rayon fabric for good swish. The skirt is a long panel that's gathered with box pleats into the waistband, and I put butterfly sleeves on the top for ease of movement.

These photos are from the Amateur Balboa contest - we got first place that year. It was also probably the best hair day of my entire life, and I like to think that had a little to do with winning. ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maharaja Costume

A few months ago, Balboa & Lindy Hop champion Laura Keat contacted me to ask if I would be interested in making a costume for a new routine she was working on. As a rule I don't sew for other people (I don't even hem Chris's pants, he has to take them to the cleaners), but this was a special project that I was very interested in working on.

On Saturday night at All Balboa Weekend, Laura and her dance partner, Jeremy Otth, performed Hal & Betty Takier's "Maharaja", a musical short from 1943. This is one of only a few clips we have of LA Swing from the 30's & 40's, and this one is a wild ride - the energy and enthusiasm combined with their street dance technique has been hugely influential to modern balboa dancers. In honor of Hal's recent passing, Jeremy & Laura wanted to represent this in their recreation.

Inspiration: 40's Playsuit

Inspiration: High-flying skirt!

I worked with Laura to create a 40's playsuit like the one Betty wears in Maharaja - unfortunately most of the footage we have is pretty blown out and details are hard to see, but that gave us some creative license in the design. For the top and the skirt I used a rayon twill, lined with a rayon satin (I've got a bit of a love affair with the drape and flow of rayon - perfect for swishy skirts!)

I draped the top and the skirt, and we decided to put buttons down the skirt so that it can fly open for this routine but be not as...revealing for others. :)

Cute, right? Well, get ready to be wowed - they NAILED the routine! Bummed I couldn't be at the event in person, but so glad I got to be part of it anyway!

Jeremy Otth & Laura Keat perform Hal & Betty Takier's "Maharaja" in tribute at the 2012 All Balboa Weekend

Photo by Shannon Sheldon

Photo by Shannon Sheldon

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jitterbug Jewelry

I was messing around with searching LIFE Magazine via Google the other night and found these photos and little letter about "Jitterbug Jewelry" - rhinestone encrusted brooches of dancing instruments. I would die if I found a set of these! Just too too cute.

And a note about the highlighting below - when searching for vintage info about swing dancing, I find that "jitterbug" is the best search term. The music was "swing", the dances were individually known as "Lindy Hop" "Balboa" and "Shag" but collectively called "jitterbug", and a dancer was always just a "jitterbug". Not sure when terms like "swing dancing" and "lindy hopper" started being used, but I'm guessing around the 70's & 80's - so those terms commonly used today aren't very useful for searching older references.

Jitterbug Jewelry, as featured in LIFE magazine, May 16, 1938

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back on Track

I'm alive! I've never been the most frequent blogger, but the last few months have been particularly slow. I don't usually talk about very personal things here, but things have been a little tough for me since last fall, both personally and professionally. Family illness, new job, not feeling at my best in general...but things are looking up and I'm starting to feel rejuvenated and like my old self again. :)

We've been getting out dancing a little more frequently, which is great - in addition to our regular social dancing, we taught a lindy hop workshop last month and participated in a fundraiser for the USO as taxi dancers at Rusty's Rhythm Club. I feel so blessed to have so many opportunities - sometimes too many, even! As hard as it is for me to turn down things I really want to do, I'm trying my best to know my limits and not overextend myself. But that's a good problem to have, right?

I just finished a sewing project for a friend that I can hopefully share here in the next week or two, and right now I'm taking a sewing break. I'm taking the time to do some spring cleaning, starting with my sewing room, then my closet and garage (not sure which one is the bigger task!). I never really finished those spaces after we moved last year, and my clothes/costumes are in dire need of some organization and TLC. We'll see how far I get before the new project bug bites - Costume College *is* coming up, after all!
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