Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


Upon completion of the course, the students are able to:

- Recognise, discuss, describe, critically reflect upon, apply and deepen knowledge on a special area of costume design.

Credits: 1

Schedule: 15.09.2020 - 25.09.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Sofia Pantouvaki, Merja Väisänen

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Sofia Pantouvaki, Merja Väisänen

Contact information for the course (valid 26.08.2020-21.12.2112):

Course tutor: Tua Helve, doctoral candidate, Aalto
University (email:

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: Finnish, Swedish, English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The students are introduced to a special area in costume design. The content of the course may vary in different years and addresses the theory and practice of costume in an advanced level.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Short description of the course

    ‘Costume in Contemporary Dance’ examines costume design in the 21st century
    Euro-American contemporary dance productions with a special focus on Finland.
    Within this frame, the course equips the student to understand dance as a
    specific context for design. It discusses influential designers, choreographers,
    and collaborations. Through various sources, it helps the student to
    analyse design choices, aesthetic approaches, and modes of making (both costume
    and dance).

    This is achieved through actively attending the lectures,
    participating in discussions, analysing select texts (see bibliography), video
    recordings, as well as discussing the examples and working in small groups.
    Furthermore, the course encourages the students to adopt a dynamic and
    communicative role in their future projects within dance. 

    Learning Outcomes

    Upon completion of the course, the students are able to
    recognise, discuss, describe, critically reflect upon, apply and deepen
    knowledge on a special area of costume design. Specifically, the students are
    able to:

    - express a deeper understanding of the specificity of dance
    as a field for costume design;

    - identify current strategies in devising and designing
    dance productions in the 21st century Euro-American context;

    - analyse dance productions from the perspective of costume.


    Choose one pre-assignment from the following options.

    Please inform your pre-assignment choice by email to the
    course tutor Tua Helve
    (email: by Mon 7 September.
    In this same email, briefly answer the question: “why did I choose this

    Upon the choice of assignment, prepare your contribution for
    presenting in the first session (task 1 key points/mind map, task 2 collage
    with key words. If possible, prepare this for optimal sharing on the screen).

    Read the texts by Uusitalo (2006), McLaine and
    McCabe (2013), Helve (2018). Analyse and collect main points: Based on
    these materials, which aspects appear key to costume design within contemporary
    dance? Please note the role of each author (designer, theorist, etc.) and their
    possible impact on the testimony.

    Read the article by Markstein (2016). Do background
    research/collect data
    : In her text, the author names at least six
    influential persons in the 20th and 21st century dance.
    Choose three of them; find out who they are; with bullet points, describe their
    contribution and approach to costume and dance. Is there anyone you would add?
    Introduce these 3+1 one names in visual collages (four collages in total).

    Pre-assignment texts:

    Uusitalo, Marja. 2006. “A dancer’s costume – visionary
    and concrete.” In Theatre People –
    People’s Theatre: Finnish Theatre and Dance 2006,
    edited by Kaisa Korhonen
    and Katri Tanskanen, 96–102. Helsinki: Like.

    Helve, Tua. 2018. “Political
    by Design: Costume Design Strategies within the Finnish Contemporary Dance
    Productions AmazinGRace, Noir? and The Earth Song.” Nordic Journal of Dance 9(1): 14–31.

    McLaine, Gretchen and
    McCabe, Janine. 2013. “Communication by Design: A Collaborative Project for
    Student Choreographers and Costume Designers.” Journal of Dance Education 13(4): 139–42.

    Markstein, Helena Gee. 2016. “De-signing visual stimuli: A dance maker’s
    toolkit.” In Embodied Performance:
    Design, Process, and Narrative
    , edited by Sadia Zabour-Shaw, 143–76. Oxford:
    Inter-Disciplinary Press.


Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Students' development during the course, motivation, attendance and active participation in discussions, independent work and completion of assignments.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    work on this course will be evaluated with the following criteria:

    minimum of 80% attendance is required on online teaching sessions. Students are
    expected to attend, participate actively in the group discussions, read/watch
    and reflect, and contribute to the small-group assignments.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The workload depends on the type of content offered in each version of this course, and will be specified in the syllabus.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Workload: 4 cr (108h study hours). Pre-assignment (18h); Contact sessions (46h study load, lectures and discussions); Independent work and small-group assignments (44h)


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Depends on the type of content offered in each version of this course, and will be handed out separately.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Other bibliography

    Additional bibliography (to be shared during the course)

    Bugg, Jessica. 2020. “Dressing Dance –
    Dancing Dress: Lived Experience of Dress and its Agency in the Collaborative
    Process.” In The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies, edited by Helen
    Thomas and Stacey Prickett, 353–64. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Colin, Noyale, and Stefanie Sachsenmaier.
    2016. Collaboration in Performance
    Practice. Premises, Workings
    and Failures. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    (Select chapters)

    Hammond, Abigail. 2012. “Costume design in contemporary dance – a unique
    approach to dressing the body.” In Endymatologika
    4. Endyesthai (to Dress): Historical, Sociological and Methodological
    Approaches. Conference Proceedings, Athens (2010)
    , edited by Xenia Politou,
    178–82. Nafplion: Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation.

    Helve, Tua, and Sofia Pantouvaki. 2016. “Sharing ’Untamed Ideas’: Process-based costume
    design in Finnish contemporary dance through the work of Marja Uusitalo.” Scene 4(2):149–172.

    Lepecki, André. 2016. “Moving as some thing (or, some things want to run)” Chapter I in Singularities. Dance in the Age of
    , 26–54. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Dean, Sally E. 2016. “Where is the body in
    the costume design process?” Studies in Costume & Performance 1 (1): 97–111.
    doi: 10.1386/scp.1.1.97_1

    Shura Pollatsek, E.
    2019. “Elevating the dance.” Theatre Design & Technology. Summer
    2019, 55(3): 8–17.

    Trimingham, Melissa
    2017. “Agency and Empathy: Artists touch the Body.” Chapter 5 in Costume in
    Performance. Materiality, Culture and the Body,
    ed. Donatella Barbieri,
    137–65. London: Bloomsbury.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:


SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    5 Gender Equality


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation:


    Weeks 38-39 (15.9. – 25.9.2020), Tues-Fri 9:00-17:00

    The course will take place online via Teams. It runs daily from Tue to Fri: “contact” sessions approx. 3 hours/day between 9–15.30. Between the contact sessions, independent tasks. Please take into consideration the extent of the independent tasks and reserve full days for this course.

    ·        Tue 15 Contact sessions 3h          

    ·        Wed 16 Contact sessions 4h        
    9–11.15 (incl. one break)
    12–14.15 (incl. one break)           

    ·        Thu 17  Contact sessions 3,5h
    12.15– 15.15 (incl. one break)

    ·        Fri 18     Contact sessions 3h

    • (Monday 21 at 13–16 Costume Lecture, related to the topic of this course)

    ·        Tue 22   Contact sessions 3h
    11–12.45 with artist/choreographer Tiia Kasurinen

    ·        Wed 23 Contact sessions 4,5h
    12–13.30 with artist/choreographer Sonya Lindfors, TBC

    ·        Thu 24  Contact sessions 2h

    ·        Fri 25     Contact sessions 3h