Re: Dance of Thrones

At this year’s big spring dance recital that just took place this past Friday, I danced a Persian fusion number to the main theme from “Game of Thrones”. I had initially hoped to do a Dothraki- inspired piece, but couldn’t find the drum music used in the series.

An exhibit of costumes from Game of Thrones. Cersei’s gown in front, Melisandre’s dress in background.

Listening to the main theme, I decided that the haunting violins with the underlying drumbeat really had more of a Persian/Northern India sound so I planned my performance piece around that.  While the court gowns we see in the series have a kimono/Medieval look to them, other courtiers such as Master Varys have garb that is more Central Asian-inspired. The capitol of King’s Landing itself is very old, has a hot, dry climate, and has a very Mughal Court vibe to me so I wanted a costume that read as Persian, but could conceivably be worn by a court dancer at King’s Landing.

Here’s a Persian painting showing a dancer and a musician. The dancer is wearing a long, belted gown.

Persian dancer with a short coat, Qajar dynasty.

As you can see from the pictures above, I had a couple of options in terms of Persian dance wear. I opted to go with my long Turkish coat worn over a full skirt with black leggings underneath. It was a compromise between historical and modern Persian dancer costumes.  I considered adding a sash, but found that it limited the skirt and the robe from billowing out as I spun.

Sansa (Sophie Turner ) modeling the court hairstyle at King’s Landing (Game of Thrones, Season 1).

I considered doing up my hair a la Sansa, but finally opted to keep it simple, pulling it up at the sides, letting it fall down the back, and then adding flowers around the crown, tribal bellydance style. That turned out to be a good call as the theater where the recital took place was very hot and stuffy.

If you know something about Persian dance, you know that dancers oft mime feminine activities such as putting on their jewelry and makeup. With Queen Cersei as my muse, I mimed poisoning a goblet, slicing throats, and fighting with a sword and shield. At the end, the lights went to red, suggesting a pool of blood.

The whole number was well received. Next year, I’m hoping to dress up one of my fellow dancers and myself as priestesses of R’hllor (aka Melisandre) and do a candle duet.

Re: Game of Thrones

I confess that I have–despite myself–become quite enamored of the HBO series “Game of Thrones“, an adaptation of the George R.R. Martin series of fantasy novels.  When I first heard that it was coming out, I was certain that I absolutely wasn’t about to watch yet another fantasy epic, but my will has crumbled thanks to the characters (darn you, Tyrion and Daenarys!).

No less intriguing than the characters has been the beautiful clothes that costumer Michele Clapton has designed. I don’t think that any costume aficionado could fail to be moved by the challenge that she took on. One of the (many) problems a costumer faces when confronting the task of making costumes for a fantasy world is that the clothes can’t look theatrical in any way.  Any false notes and the suspension of belief is lost.  The costumes must appear familiar to the audience yet at the same time true to the fantasy world that they’ve been created for.  Elements from different cultures can be mixed, but the whole must work together and not look like a mish-mash. In addition, the costumes must be comfortable (as much as possible) for the actors while still conveying something about their characters.

Here’s an interview with Michele Clapton that appeared in the L.A. Times. You know that you’re on a hardcore costuming production when they weave their own fabric.  Here is one of the featurettes on GoT costume designs and here’s the other.

Daenerys appears to be fast emerging as a fan costuming favorite and who can blame them? The Targaryen princess turned nomad queen has some fabulous outfits.

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in a simple robe prior to her marriage to Khal Drogo. I like the simplicity and purity of line in this garment.

As Daenarys embraces her new life and grows into her role as khaleesi, her clothing changes. Her Dothraki outfit has “tribal bellydance” written all over it.

Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. The ruthless patriarch of the rich and powerful House Lannister shows off his striking armor. The Lannister coat of arms is a lion on a red background, hence the red shoulder cloak.

Carice van Houten as the priestess Melisandre. Melisandre is a priestess of R’hllor, the god of fire and light, and is described as wearing red, head to foot. Even her eyes are red. While that spells trouble for Stannis Baratheon’s household, it spells “fabulous bellydance outfit” to me.