Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hark! Who goes there? It's me, Karin!

I'm back. Hi everyone!

Over the summer I was very busy preparing and rehearsing for a 2 1/2 hour evening of dance with The Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy. We performed 3 full evenings of Italian renaissance dance over 2 weekends at The National Gallery of Australia in conjunction with their current exhibition entitled 'Renaissance',  an exhibition of paintings from 15th and 16th Century Italian Renaissance from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. 

In addition to learning, memorising, and polishing a dozen new dances, we also wanted to research early Italian renaissance dress in order to create accurate, new garments for those of us without our own. I certainly did not have anything from the 15th or 16th century just knocking around in my closet! 

We began our research project in November, identifying the shapes and forms we wished to recreate. Our main inspiration were the paintings of the Florentine master, Domenico Ghirlandaio, who is noted for his detailed frescos depicting citizens in contemporary dress.

Additionally, we needed to construct a half a dozen or more chemises as there were none available within the EDHDA collection. We used this excellent pattern of Jen Thompson's from Festive Attyre

We then began planning for the undergowns and overgowns, restricting ourselves to the most suitable fabric and colours from our already existing fabric collection. Aylwen splurged on some extraordinary trims to help make the garments pop with regality.

By January, in an effort to streamline our working schedule, we re-evaluated our costume needs. Time was starting to tighten. By creatively thinking outside the box, we were able to pull together already existing garments in the EDHDA collection to reshape and refashion for our needs. While not initially our plan, this worked our beautifully. A variety of garments from different time periods and countries allowed us to span over 200 years, from early Italian renaissance to Elizabethan. providing variation and interest within our dance displays. Some of these garments needed the addition of appropriate trims, re-hemming, or slight reshaping. Our seam rippers were busy during those working bees.

Both refashioned and new garments needed sleeves! For my own undergown, I chose to make long sleeves with vents at elbow and shoulder. I used white cording instead of modern grommets to create the channels through which my sleeves were attached at the shoulder, and my gold sleeve cording was woven. 

By February, we had finished refashioning our existing garments and had 4 complete new Italian renaissance wardrobes.

Here we are at dress rehearsal in the NGA theatre.

And here I am with John at dress rehearsal, performing Bellezze d' Olimpia. :-)

Since these photos were taken, I have added more lace on the bottom of the undergown and I have acquired a crown and snood for my hair. I then christened myself - Contessa Corina Bellaflore. 

It really was a tremendous amount of fun. I very much enjoyed creating my own Italian renaissance wardrobe from scratch while at the same time, learning some very fancy dances for which my flowing gowns and fancy sleeves were perfectly suited. From pavans, to galliards, to canarios, to contrapasso's, we danced each night away. I even found myself pavaning through the video shop after one of our events.

Gabriel Bieniek and me.

Now it's on to the Jane Austen Festival. It's always a lot of fun each year. I have so much sewing to try to get done in the next few weeks!


Kat @ I Saw You Dancing said...

Hi Karin, what a gorgeous costume. You clever gal you!
Thanks for being a part of Blogtoberfest, hosted by Cathy aka {tinniegirl} last year. Thought you might be interested to know that we're running it again in 2012. You can find all the info at:
And we're kicking off this Monday! Would love to see you there.
Kat xxx

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