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Sessions by the Costume Design & Technology Commission always draw a crowd, especially the Costume Poster Session, shown at left in Houston, Texas, which allows participants to ask questions and interact with those presenting their ideas.

Photo/Tom Thatcher


Attend Conference? Oh, Yes!

Cathryn G Ellis
Costume Design & Technology Commission

"To go, or not to go – to USITT" seems to be the question that everyone is asking as the economy becomes increasingly challenging. Universities are tightening their belts and everyone's wallets seem thinner. However, the answer to the question must be a resounding yes! Why? Because this year there is an inspiring lineup of workshops and preparations leading to the celebration of USITT's 50th anniversary and 2010 Conference in Kansas City.

There have been a few changes in the workshop lineup making the conference more productive and convenient for everyone. The Wednesday time slot from noon to 1:30 p.m. is open, giving attendees time to register and have lunch before the afternoon sessions. In addition, the 10 to11:20 a.m. session on Friday has been changed to a 50th Anniversary Planning Session, a chance to brainstorm and finalize plans for 2010. In light of the specialized matrix for the anniversary, this extra session will help the Costume Design & Technology Commission generate and finalize planning for this special conference, allowing everyone the opportunity to get more involved.

On Wednesday, the Costume Commission will start off its programming with Alexandra Bonds's workshop on the Costumes of the Beijing Opera. Her new book will be available at the USITT Boutique at Stage Expo starting on Thursday, and Ms. Bonds will be signing books on Thursday at the USITT Booth. Later in the afternoon, Heather Fleming will present Modifying Wigs. The third session of the day is Creating Costumes from Found Objects, a hands-on workshop. Attendees will work in groups of five to six to create a costume from non-traditional and found objects. The Costume Design & Technology Commission meeting is the final session of the day.

Thursday begins with the ever-popular Costume Poster Session. Next, the Commission will honor costume designer Professor Han Chuenqi, international guest. He was the costume designer for the closing ceremony of Beijing Olympics 2008. One of the most important costume designers in China, Professor Han is dean of the design department of the National Dance Academy of China, and director of the Committee of Costume Design for the OISTAT Center in China.

Also on Thursday, Susan Davis will present Graceful Bodices: Draping over Period Corsets, a follow-up to her popular session from two years ago, Draping a Graceful Skirt. The session will demonstrate draping bodices from the 18th and 19th centuries, including how to deal with period shapes considering fabric grain, style lines, and proportion. Paper patterns and sleeves will be discussed, but the primary focus will be methods to create beautiful bodices.

Friday morning kicks off with Draping Techniques in Half Scale presented by Pamela Rehberg. The next session will be the Commission planning session for the USITT 50th Anniversary in Kansas City. There will also be a retrospective of opera designer Robert O'Hearn. Friday includes the always popular Wardrobe Work on Broadway.

In the evening, the Commission will honor Lenna Kaleva, who will receive the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award in Costume Design. A legendary designer, technologist, and educator in the areas of stage make-up and wigs, Ms. Kaleva will share her artistic journey as a celebration of her life and work. Friday will close with the Costume Design & Technology Commission Reception, with a delicious array of appetizers and a cash bar.

Saturday will begin with David McCarl presenting a workshop on Elizabethan Ruffs Made Easy. The second session of the day is a panel discussion chaired by Gweneth West on Costume Designer and Draper Collaboration from the Studio to the Stage. The panel will include Judy Adamson, Paul Favini, Marcy Linton, Susan Tsu, and James Glavan. The Costume Commission's final session is Preserving Antique Garments presented by Kathie Brookfield and co-presented with Cynthia Anneus, curator of costumes and textiles at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Jean Druesdow, director of the Kent State Museum.

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