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The Power Of Color

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Teacher article

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The colors we choose send powerful messages. They have a strong influence on how we look, feel and act. Color has a remarkable impact, both psychologically and physically. It is one of the most effective ways to evoke a mood. Color can stimulate the emotional and mental responses in our bodies. It has the ability to inspire your dancers and grab your audience's attention!

The use of color emerges in scientific fields yet stands the test of time creatively.

  • The Luscher Color test was developed to diagnose a patient's emotional condition. Psychiatrists use color to analyze personalities.

  • New Age Health practitioners prescribe colors as energy treatments for spiritual and physical ailments.

  • Fashion Designers have long used color to create a certain visual effect in apparel.

Colors of the Rainbow and their meanings

Color is reflected light. We feel it and see it through our eyes and our minds. Humans can only see 40% of the rays of light in a rainbow. As vibrations of electromagnetic energy travel from the sun they penetrate our bodies through the eyes and skin. The sun feels so good on our skin because we are absorbing all of the light energy of color!

When you understand the effects of certain colors, you can begin to use them to create a specific reaction.

RED is the most powerful, active color. It grabs our attention first. It is known to raise the pulse rate.

Red can be used to convey:

  • Energy

  • Power

  • Aggression

  • Danger

  • Strength

  • Passion

  • Excitement

  • Courage

  • Desire

  • Love

Red was used as the focus color for the main character in the Broadway musical Annie. While an orphan, her strength and desire to be loved frame the story and are emphasized by her costume and feisty hair.

Pink is the color of love and romance. It represents the feminine principle and has a very calming effect.

Pink can be used to convey:

  • Femininity

  • Tranquility

  • Gentleness

  • Truth

  • Calmness

  • Compassion

  • Faithfulness

  • Friendship

  • Sensitivity

*Pink is the color most commonly used in the cosmetics industry.

In the ballet Sleeping Beauty, the tranquil Aurora is the epitome of femininity while wearing a pink tutu during her pas de deux.

Orange is a high energy, fun color. It represents the sun, fire and warmth. Orange is used by the fast food industry to stimulate the appetite.

Orange can be used to convey:

  • Cheerfulness

  • Friendliness

  • Confidence

  • Vitality

  • Warmth

  • Excitement

  • Optimism

  • Energy

  • Liveliness

The Lion King uses orange to illustrate the main characters Simba and King Mufasa in the animated Disney classic that has also been adapted to stage. The scene is set with warmth and energy found on the savannah.

Yellow is the brightest color to the human eye and is the happiest, friendliest color. Yellow can lift our spirits and self-esteem. Yellow can draw people out and make them more talkative!

Yellow can be used to convey:

  • Cheerfulness

  • Joy

  • Friendliness

  • Caution - (traffic lights)

  • Optimism

  • Energy

  • Imagination

  • Spontaneity

The signature costume worn by Belle in The Beauty and the Beast is a beautifully rich yellow. The eternal optimist, it is her friendly demeanor that turns the beast back into a prince.

Green is the predominant color of nature. It is associated with nature, vitality and new growth. Green is restful to the eye and has a healing and calming power.

Green can be used to convey:

  • Calmness

  • Peace

  • Hope

  • Fertility

  • Renewal

  • Tranquility

  • Safety

  • Health - (frequently used in hospital rooms)

  • Abundance -(the color of money)

  • Rest and relaxation

*Dark green is commonly associated with the military, money and banking.

There's no color more fitting for everyone's favorite childhood character, Peter Pan. Being the boy who can fly and never grow up, green is used to symbolize the renewal of the fertile island of Neverland.

Blue is the color of wisdom and the intellect. It affects us more mentally and less physically like red. Blue is the most preferred color by men and is the world's favorite color!

Blue can be used to convey:

  • Calming affects

  • Healing

  • Dependability

  • Soothing qualities

  • Intelligence

  • Trust

  • Efficiency

  • Serenity

  • Coolness

  • Gentleness

  • Kindness

* Dark Blue is the color of our National power suit in the USA.

Blue is Cinderella's signature color, as she dances the night away in her glass slippers. Always calm in the face of adversity, her eternal kindness is to be admired.

Purple represents spiritual awareness. It is the color of the imagination and can represent mystery, magic, power and luxury. It encourages deep meditation and contemplation. Purple is often used to portray rich powerful kings, wizards and magicians.

Purple can be used to convey:

  • Royalty

  • Abundance

  • Mystery

  • Wealth

  • Luxury

  • Spirituality

  • Dignity

  • Artistic qualities

  • Faith

  • Fantasy

  • Fashion

*Purple is the most popular color among teenage girls.

In the Tony Award winning musical, The King and I, King Mongkut of Siam has a wardrobe full of rich purple to complement his abundant court.

White is the color of purity and innocence (a total reflection of ALL colors). (Odette in Swan Lake, Giselle, Apollo

White can be used to convey:

  • Freshness

  • Hope

  • Goodness

  • Light

  • Simplicity

  • Truth

  • Honesty

  • Hygiene

One of the most iconic ballets tells the story of Odette, a princess of pure heart that was turned into a white swan by the evil sorcerer in Swan Lake.

Black is the total absorption of ALL colors…an absence of light. It looks great with other colors and makes them "pop".

Black can be used to convey:

  • Sophistication

  • Glamour

  • Elegance (little black dress)

  • Conservativeness

  • Power

  • Authority

  • Mystery

  • Evil

  • Death

    The evil sorcerer's daughter Odile, disguised as a black swan, is a beautiful contrast of good versus evil in Swan Lake.

Grey is the only psychologically neutral color! It is a virtual absence of color and can be depressive.

Grey can be used to convey:

  • Authority

  • Security

  • Stability

  • Maturity

  • Lack of confidence

*When the world turns grey, we instinctively prepare for hibernation.

The new production of Little Dancer, based on Edgar Degas statue "Little Dancer," features a young Maria wearing a bronze bodice and grey tutu to reflect the poverty of her past while transitioning to the gilded world of the stage.

Gold is equated with: Sophistication

  • Luxury

  • Wealth and splendor

One of the most emotional stories of true love and wealth has the lead, Juliet, in costumes that shine with glittering gold.

Silver is associated with:

  • Vision

  • Clarity

  • Insight

  • Mental power

The Tin Man joins Dorothy on her journey to the Emerald City. Together, he uses his mental power to fuel the rag-tag troupe with the vision that their dreams will be realized when they meet the Wizard of Oz.

The color of your costumes sets the tone of your recital, along with the music. The next time you are choosing costumes, think about the mood you want to induce in your audience and use the power of color to help dazzle your audience!

Author

Kimberly Keller

Kimberly Keller

Kimberly Keller is a Design Director at Costume Gallery, where she has worked for eight years. She has a degree in Fashion Design from Bauder Fashion College and has been creatively employed in the dance costume industry for over twenty five years. Kimberly has designed apparel for the Russian women’s Olympic gymnastics team, the Dallas Mavericks cheerleaders and the halftime costumes for the Capital One Bowl. She was also a trained dancer in tap, jazz and ballet for over twenty years and has held many lead dance parts in musicals at a regional theater level. Her favorite role was “Cassie” in Chorus Line. In addition to dance and designing, Kimberly has been a National makeup artist for a leading cosmetic company. She received training and certification in Image Consulting in both Beverly Hills and New York. Kimberly has taught head to toe image programs and accessorizing for businesses, stores and individuals. In her spare time she has been a volunteer for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Dress for Success. One of her favorite pastimes is travel and she has had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. Kimberly especially loves that her job at Costume Gallery combines her passions for dance, design and fashion!

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