Costume, Movement & Mood

By Kate Conklin
November 21, 2022

I care, a LOT, about my clothes. As a singer, former and occasionally still circus performer, and movement coach, what I wear matters. It communicates about me, and my character when in a performance- both visually, and in terms of what it allows me to do.

Heels or platforms allow me to tower, as well as making percussive sounds when walking. A skirt with a long train means no walking backwards, so all movement must be some form of advancement and circling around. A head-piece gives additional height, as well as grandeur and regality. A cape gives all kinds of possibilities for obscuring, revealing, sweeping, flourishing and gesturing. In “O” I had some lovely silky layers that worked beautifully for making arabesques during the dance numbers.

“Actors dress up because you can do more brilliant movements if you have a flying cloak; you can fly through the air more dazzlingly if you know that you are a streak of yellow moving through the air.”

Peter Brook

Most of my performance garb has been made by or for me. Being 6’2″ means there aren’t a great deal of off-the-rack options, but more importantly, I want what I want. Costume for me is about the performance as a whole, and the visual sense is an inseparable part of that. Color, the texture and movement of the fabric are all huge parts of how I experience the performance, express ideas, and communicate with the audience. It’s an omni-sensory experience for me, and for the audience with me.

There is an element of illusion in this. I am a professional breather, so my ribs and entire torso need to be able to move in every direction at any time. So if my costume is to be a corset or other structured top, I will trick it out to appear tight, but not actually be tight.

For my daily life at the moment, I’m mostly coaching, singing and recording, and filming. Here, too, what I wear is central to being able to do what I wish to do. I need to be able to reach, stretch, roll, bend, twist- anything my clients do- which is everything from mime to aerial silks to sitting cross legged for meditation or music study. (I have been known to summarily rip both pants and shirts in one fell swoop in these situations, due to spontaneous movement which was beyond the capabilities of the item of clothing.) This means, again, all my clothes are customized in some way or another, so I can move any way I wish, while looking how I choose. For me this means tailored and fitted, not tight.

Here’s me putting this outfit through its paces.

The all important stretch- test!
(If I can do it, the pants should be able to as well.)

The “you never know with this one” test.

Takin’ it on the road.

A very satisfied Glamazon.