Dance The Sun King

Ballet, contemporary dance
“The Sun King”, Joseph Caruana, 2014
Elements Contemporary Ballet, Chicago, IL – November 2014

Choreographer : Joseph Caruana
Artistic director : Mike Gosney
Musical director : Garry Clarke
Costume designer : Meriem Bahri
Light designer : Bread and Roses productions
Photographer : Topher Alexander

Caruana’s cast is genderless, seemingly empowered and subjugated by their black garb and bright blue eye makeup; Meriem Bahri’s costumes, imaginative in their regal-goth design, look interchangeable for both sexes.", November 2014

Though Meriem Bahri's plethora of costumes and masks can be distracting, she has great fun with that sexual ambiguity. The straps of tutu-like bustiers for the men outline their nipples, while Tiffany McCord as Lully is apparently topless, her breasts cleverly disguised."

Laura Molzahn, Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2014


Creating costumes for The Sun King required negotiating the unusual mix of contemporary dance – commonly associated with very modern and minimalist outfits – and the flamboyance of Baroque-era visual arts. Thus, the designs were created to highlight 21st century dancers’ bodies and movement, while the fabrics were meticulously chosen to echo 17th century tastes. The restricted color palette represents contemporary dance costuming, while the specific cuts reflect the costumes worn for the royal ballets and operas performed at Louis XIV’s court. And since Louis’ court always embraced the latest trends, high fashion was also an important source of inspiration for these designs. Influences include Alexander McQueen’s references to historical garments and Jean-Paul Gautier’s gender play, which fits well with the gender-bending aspects of this ballet.