If I Were A Sushi Roll: Interviewing Susan Roemer

SUSAN ROEMER: I’m Susan Roemer, costume designer for “If I Were a Sushi Roll” by Val Caniparoli. It’s wonderful working with Val. I always enjoyed working with him, when he was the choreographer and I was the dancer. But now it feels almost more rewarding because I sort of understand his style. My experience being on the other side really allows us to work better together because I understand both worlds. The way that Val and I work with costuming is like going the scenic route and ending up in the middle. We spent a lot of time with images and the feeling of the piece without really committing to any kind of costume. My inital reaction for the costume design is always way different than what we end up with. There’s like a full evolution of design. The costumes are really integral in the choreographic process. Val, from the beginning, had a very specific
notion of the sense of weight It was important to make sure [the costumes] weren’t too balletic, and that they came across as being human and sort of pedestrian. VAL CANIPAROLI: I love collaborations. So, in this case, Susan [Roemer, the costume designer], Douglas Schmidt [set designer], myself, the dancers, and [artistic director] Celia Fushille, we all came to this idea and this thought and ran away with it. It’s been a blast. It’s just all multilayered, with Douglas Schmidt’s set design, which is inspired by Japanese graphics of sushi rolls, and in one case, Jane Fonda. There’s a song about Jane Fonda. SUSAN ROEMER: So we’ve got this strong, striking set design, and the movement is very colorful. The costume color palette needed to be simplified. The black and white felt like a really bold choice. In its simplicity, it is pretty powerful. It really is a ballet about everything and nothing at all. It’s very human; it’s about the human experience. And it is influenced by the sort of “hum-drum” of regular life. We all kind of wear this uniform, but yet there are all these stories that come out of that. It seems very relevant to the city that we live in. You walk down one street, and you witness a whole scene. You turn the corner, and it’s something else completely.

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