Costume Catastrophe

My name is Kathryn McLane, and I am working on an honors thesis that combines my interests in dance and American Studies. During the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the American Civil War, it is important to consider why people continue to commemorate the War one hundred and fifty years after its close, how these commemorations have changed over time, and what role collective memory plays in the commemoration process.  To analyze these questions, I am both writing a research paper and choreographing a dance for the twenty-five members of William and Mary’s Orchesis Modern Dance Company.  I applied for a Student Research Grant through the Charles Center in order to create costumes for my dancers that would subtly represent Civil War uniforms. After receiving the grant, I ordered long, flowing shirts and decided to dye them in an ombré fashion, with the dye in a gradient from light blue at the top of the shirt to dark gray at the bottom. This blending of blue and gray—the colors worn by the Union and Confederate armies, respectively—symbolizes the post-war reconciliation and reunification Americans achieved through the process of remembrance and commemoration.

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