Halloween Costume Ideas for the Contemporary Dancer

Contemporary dancers: there are many factors that draw us to what we do–the physicality, the creativity, the theatricality–but perhaps what we crave the most is the perpetual feeling of being misunderstood by everyone around us.

Now you can extend that feeling to Halloween: just put together one of these costumes inspired by conversations with my dancer friends! About two people at the party will think you’re brilliant and you’ll strike up some great three-line conversations (beginning with “what are you?” and ending with “oh, okay”) with the rest of them.

  • Early American Modern Dance Pioneers (group costume): Respect your roots, prove you took a dance history class, and avoid wearing shoes! Slip yourself into an abnormally large tube scarf and voila–Martha Graham! A bed sheet and a rope should be enough to tie together a decent Izzie Duncan. And Ruth St. Dennis and Ted Shawn* make the perfect coordinated costumes for that odd couple (and don’t require much fabric). Whoever shows up last has to wear the Merce unitard (and keep a neutral face all night).

*May put you at increased risk for cultural appropriation.

Still not as bad as some of the prepackaged Halloween costumes I saw this week…

  • Images From Gaga Class: You love your Gaga class: when embodied in improvisation, the surreal images connect you to a sense of pleasure and unlocks movement potential. But in costume form, some of them seems pretty darn spooky. Spikes piercing through your body? Flesh dripping off your bones? This movement language has plenty of ideas for costumes that will awaken some traveling stuff in everyone’s body.
  • The Fourth Wall: Tape a piece of cardboard to yourself, but first, punch a big hole in it. Now you can get really up close and personal on the dance floor.
  • Up To Interpretation: Recreate the conversations that follow many a dance performance. Throw together various costume pieces based on aesthetic interests, dice rolls, primal instincts, the motion pathways of your pet fish, the urges of your deep unconscious, or the current location of Saturn. When someone asks what you are, respond with one of the following:
    • “What am I to you?”
    • “Does anything really have inherent meaning outside of interpretation?”
    • “Seriously, how could you not know?”

(At least one person will swear that you are a character from a Young Adult SciFi series.)


2 thoughts on “Halloween Costume Ideas for the Contemporary Dancer

  1. The first sentence in this post is such gold. It’s That Conversation: “Yes, contemporary class tonight” “….huh?” (Question: do I go for a 90 second briefing back to the 1920s or do I change the subject?)

    Everyone seems to know what they expect from you if you do ballet (it’s like the nondancer’s idea of dance) but modern freaks them out.


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