Defence of doctoral thesis in the field of Scenography and Costume Design, MA Tua Helve

Costume design practices and creative allyship in contemporary dance
Väitöskirjan tekijän nimi, työn otsikko sekä kuva Alpo Aaltokoski Companyn Pyörteitä-teoksesta, neljä tanssijaa Marja Uusitalon suunnittelemissa puvuissa (2011).
Costume design by Marja Uusitalo for Whirls (2011, choreography Alpo Aaltokoski). Photo Marko Mäkinen/Alpo Aaltokoski Company, modified from original. In the image, from left, Johanna Ikola, Jouni Majaniemi, Emmi Väisänen (in the back), Kaisa Launis.

MA Tua Helve will defend the thesis "Costume design and collaboration in Finnish contemporary dance in the early twenty-first century" on 9 December 2022 at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Film, in lecture hall A1 (A123), Otakaari 1, Espoo, and online in Zoom.

Opponent: Prof. Astrid von Rosen, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Custos: Prof. Sofia Pantouvaki, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Film

The public defence will also be organized via remote technology. Follow defence:
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Thesis available for public display 10 days prior to the defence at:
Doctoral theses in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture:

Public defence announcement:

Costume design and collaboration in Finnish contemporary dance in the early twenty-first century focuses on the interrelations between costume and dance examined through the perspective of the costume designer as the collaborative creator in performance-making. Elaborating on the key themes of creative processes, costume outcomes, and collaboration, the aims of this study include better understanding costume and its active role in the making of dance performances as well as identifying approaches that enable favourable circumstances for such an endeavour. Therefore, in the frame of independent freelance productions in Finland, this thesis investigates the ways in which various types of costumes are designed and how they are influenced by the collaborative processes and the related extra-artistic practicalities in each production.

The research findings render visible the far-reaching influence of costume and its designer in the genre of contemporary dance. In particular, the entwinement of human interrelations and artistic creation in the costume designer’s professional practice is highlighted. The findings reveal the expressive variety and level of conceptual thought ingrained in the examined designs, ranging from creations that are visually extravagant to the typically overlooked use of everyday garments as costume. In parallel, the findings show the ways in which trustworthy partnerships provide the designers with an artistic space that supports the creation of costumes and the rewarding experience of being formative to the performance-making.

As this thesis argues, the creation of costume is not only the creation of a physical garment but also the creation of a performance. Thus, this thesis not only raises issues regarding collaborating costume designers and choreographers, but also provides tools for developing these artistic allyships in practice, particularly on shaping supportive co-creative milieus for designer-choreographer joint explorations. Addressing the need for a more nuanced identification and recognition of costume design within contemporary dance, this thesis responds to the near-absence of research in the area of collaborative dance performance–making in Finland and internationally.

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