Elly Jessop Nattinger, Experience Engineer

people + space (+ technology)

Performance Project 2006: "Almost"

The key jump in figuring out the main character's costume came directly from my image research. I was struck by the potential of a costume that could begin looking like this image:

and then transform in the course of performance into this image:

Other distorting costume elements also came from research images. For instance, the sleeves in this costume:

were inspired by these sleeves.

Similarly, the collar piece in some of the costumes came from this image by Irving Penn.

Several other found images were inspirational in the design and tone of this piece.

"Almost" was a 15-minute long performance piece, incorporating movement, text, and film. I choreographed, wrote, and costume-designed the work. This piece for four women centered around the physical and personal distortion that is caused by choosing to take on negative thoughts and over-perfectionistic ideals. The film component of this piece served both as a representation of the characters' inner feelings and as an alternate world in which character transitions could occur.

One major part of the creative process in developing this piece (which took place over the course of a semester) was my design work. My first insight in how to approach the costume design came from the fact that there have been very few eras where fashion has not distorted the shape of the body. I chose to use distorting costume pieces to represent distorting mental thoughts.

The use of a costume distortion that was not only removed, but also actually destroyed, was a powerful image for me. Also, my decision to create the main performer's hoop skirt cover out of white trace paper resulted in a costume that was delicate, fragile, and truly seemed to symbolize some image of perfection. She became a tree-topper, an angel, a beautiful doll... but the skirt, because it was created out of crinkling paper, was obviously not something she ought to be wearing. In addition, the size of the hoop and the sheer volume of it impeded and hindered her movement, and the rustling sound made the audience more and more uncomfortable.

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