Sharing ‘untamed ideas’: Process-based costume design in Finnish contemporary dance through the work of Marja Uusitalo | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-3714
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3722



When designing for contemporary dance, Finnish costume designer Marja Uusitalo integrates herself into the process of each production, allowing the costumes to emerge from collaboration. Starting from the costume designer’s ‘chase of untamed ideas’ and continuing with the production team’s ‘shared experiences’, Uusitalo’s design work is the outcome of a process led by trust, dialogue, creative exchange and experimentation. The collaborative nature of performance design has been discussed by both practitioners and scholars; yet, an in-depth investigation of the centrality of collaboration in process-based costume design would enhance a profounder understanding of process-led design in the specific field. Through Uusitalo’s work, this article examines the relationship between costume design process and costume outcomes in the context of Finnish contemporary dance in the twenty-first century. This article discusses the frame of Uusitalo’s work and analyses three of her designs as case studies. The analysis not only reveals the ways in which the design process informs the final costumes for the performance, but also brings to the forefront elements of process-based costume design that, as this article argues, result in an explicit understanding of collaboration as well as of the agency of the costume designer. Furthermore, by proposing ways to consider alternative working methods in costume design, this article contributes to an ongoing discourse on processes and hierarchical structures in the creative fields more broadly.


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