Monday, June 11, 2012

Maharaja Costume

A few months ago, Balboa & Lindy Hop champion Laura Keat contacted me to ask if I would be interested in making a costume for a new routine she was working on. As a rule I don't sew for other people (I don't even hem Chris's pants, he has to take them to the cleaners), but this was a special project that I was very interested in working on.

On Saturday night at All Balboa Weekend, Laura and her dance partner, Jeremy Otth, performed Hal & Betty Takier's "Maharaja", a musical short from 1943. This is one of only a few clips we have of LA Swing from the 30's & 40's, and this one is a wild ride - the energy and enthusiasm combined with their street dance technique has been hugely influential to modern balboa dancers. In honor of Hal's recent passing, Jeremy & Laura wanted to represent this in their recreation.

Inspiration: 40's Playsuit

Inspiration: High-flying skirt!

I worked with Laura to create a 40's playsuit like the one Betty wears in Maharaja - unfortunately most of the footage we have is pretty blown out and details are hard to see, but that gave us some creative license in the design. For the top and the skirt I used a rayon twill, lined with a rayon satin (I've got a bit of a love affair with the drape and flow of rayon - perfect for swishy skirts!)

I draped the top and the skirt, and we decided to put buttons down the skirt so that it can fly open for this routine but be not as...revealing for others. :)

Cute, right? Well, get ready to be wowed - they NAILED the routine! Bummed I couldn't be at the event in person, but so glad I got to be part of it anyway!

Jeremy Otth & Laura Keat perform Hal & Betty Takier's "Maharaja" in tribute at the 2012 All Balboa Weekend

Photo by Shannon Sheldon

Photo by Shannon Sheldon


  1. Wow, your friend Lauren is such a lovely dancer! And that skirt, you're so right about the 'swish' of rayon, it's perfect for swing skirts & dresses. I loved the 'pecking' too.

  2. Oooh, you did such a fine job being part of such a bal classic! It looks gorgeous in the routine. Which yes, they really nailed it! Hope to have some classes from Laura and Jeremy in september, yay!

  3. FANTASTIC!!! Your outfit looks wonderful, and they did an amazing job!! Kudos!

  4. That was a great outfit, totally perfect and you were so right it had fabulous "swish"!!!
    So cool that you got to have a part in it.
    Congrats on a job well done!! :)

  5. It looked fantastic in person!

  6. Gorgeous outfit--just LOVE the top, it's perfect!


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