Concert dress has both a psychological and a physical impact on female performers (Griffiths 2011). This research study aimed to examine the meaning of concert dress in the performances of female classical vocalists.
This research was a qualitative study, using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as a qualitative strategy of inquiry. The research participants included six experienced South African female classical vocalists between the ages of 30 and 55 and a South African concert dress designer based in New York.
The research results suggested that, in view of the powerful influence of concert dress on the formation of a first impression, concert dress is, without a doubt, an important part of a performance. The meaning of concert dress is influenced by a number of factors. The study found that concert dress has a deep psychological impact on most of the participants and a physical impact on all the participants. The psychological effects of concert dress manifested in feelings of confidence and empowerment and also in the participants’ impression of body image. On the other hand, the physical effects of concert dress manifested in either comfort or discomfort, a positive/negative effect of dress on the singing technique and even injury as a result of an ill fit. In addition, if concert dress has a physical impact, this may manifest as a psychological impact and vice versa. Other factors which contributed to the selection of concert dress included the audience, personal style, and the criteria for concert dress. This study also explores modern trends such as body-focused dress. The participants agreed that concert dress should be a balanced representation of both the selected repertoire and the singer’s individuality.
Although there are many factors which contribute to the meaning of concert dress to a female classical vocalist, all the participants cited a universal requirement, namely, it is essential that concert dress is comfortable.
Key words: female classical vocalist, concert dress, performance, body image, repertoire, empowerment through dress, inhibiting factors of dress.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2015.