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Fashion in Screendance - Creating Strong Characters through Styling in 'In Her Skin'

Created by Kosta Karakashyan (kNOwBOX dance Ambassador)

June 2, 2022, Sofia, Bulgaria

When looking at a person moving through space, it is difficult to tease out where the dance ends and the dancer begins. Our eye takes in the physical expression holistically, blurring the edges between the performer, the choreography, and, in the case of screendance, the visual language of film.

Photo by Gabriela Ilieva

With film, we have the ability to leverage a big range of effects to construct a convincing universe. Thanks to proper casting, costume design, makeup, lighting, set design and the flexibility of the camera lens, we are able to spin a detailed tale of who we are looking at and what they want. The intimacy afforded by close-up shots allows us to tell an evocative story about a character through the visual, from the way their earrings dangle to how put together their makeup is or what the color of their nail polish signifies. In film and in screendance, the visual language of costume design is a key element of the storytelling that we shouldn’t ignore.

Polaroids by Kosta Karakashyan

Early on in pre-production of our new project In Her Skin, one of the first pieces of the puzzle was the fashion element. In Her Skin is a site-specific dance performance recorded on location at Lake Kleptuza in Velingrad, Bulgaria, exploring the interplay between the private and the public lives of five women in a small sleepy town, whose stories intertwine against the backdrop of the water. A big guiding point for the process was the concept of secrets and prejudice and how quick we are to judge others based on their appearance.

For this project, I knew I wanted five very diverse dancers so that we could create an eclectic movement language that combines contemporary dance, ballet and commercial dance in order to highlight the range of their emotions that push them to communicate candidly and occasionally violently with each other.

Before confirming casting or funding, I reached out to fashion retailer Fashion Days in order to invite them as a partner for the project. My co-director Antonia Georgieva and I knew the project needed strong characters and costumes that would help bring them to life.

Fashion Days was our first choice for the collaboration because in their own communications, they are not afraid to take risks, incorporating movement and a bold narrative of individuali