Top, Trousers, and Cap, Pierrot in the Dead City, Barton Mumaw (ensemble)

Costume

Identifier
C-691_a-c
Date:
1935
Description:
Grey/purple top and trousers with ragged cuffs and black cotton skull cap. Worn by Barton Mumaw in Pierrot in the Dead City. This is the original costume.

Item Details:
C-691_a A top sleeves grey/mauve rayon top with a purple silk pleated collated and two purple pom poms decorating the front opening. The sleeves are ombre dyed purple and ragged at the cuff.
C-691_b A pair of grey/mauve rayon trousers. The cuffs are ombre dyed purple and ragged.
C-691_c A black cotton skull cap.

Additional info:
Whilst on tour in 1931 Ted Shawn heard the haunting baritone aria, “Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen” from the Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City). The music inspired Shawn to create his first solo for young dancer Barton Mumaw.

Shawn designed a traditional Pierrot style costume for the solo and wanted to find a ‘material that would suggest a figure moving through mist’. Mumaw recalled in his memoir that ‘the search for the right fabric began long before the dance was created … while on tour, Ted and I prowled the aisles of yard-goods sections of department stores, big and little, whenever we had a free hour.’ It wasn’t until on tour in the Middle West that the exact ‘hue of ghostly material’ was found. ‘Immediately unwinding yards and yards of cloth’ Mumaw writes, ‘we waved them through the air to test the drift and drape.’
The costume was designed and made at the Pillow, Shawn himself ‘manipulated the fabric in a dye pot so that a deep Concord grape color remained at the unhemmed edges’ Mumaw recalled.

The solo itself told the story of 'the legendary Pierrot returns by moonlight to the city where, in his youth, he loved and lost Pierrette … he is now a wraith and the city is deserted.’ Shawn did not allow Mumaw to perform the solo in public till four years after it was created. Shawn felt, Mumaw explains, that ‘the work demanded certain emotional depth that I, at age nineteen, had not yet explored, certain nuances that I was not ready to project.’ Once premièred the solo received much critical acclaim.
Extent:
3
Medium:
Cotton, Silk, Metal, Rayon

Related Entities
Barton Mumaw (worn by)
Related works
Pierrot in the Dead City
Related collections
Barton Mumaw Collection
Series 8: Costumes
Related Storage Locations
Costume Box 114