Costume maker or mad scientist?

Turning garbage into glorious gowns and scraps into showy skirts is what Doris Haidner-Seif (BFA Spec. Hons. ’85) does best, always with a hint of stagecraft added, wrote Metro (Toronto) July 28.

As wardrobe assistant in York University’s Department of Theatre, Faculty of Fine Arts, Haidner-Seif has spent half her life teaching students how to take everyday clothes and turn them into visually arresting costumes worthy of a great performance.

If swirling dye vats, revving tools and ominous-sounding “respirators” seem like something you’d rather find in a factory than a studio, that’s because Haidner-Seif’s production space at York resembles a lair of mad science.

Coloured spools hang from a wall mount above industrial sewing machines and shelves filled with vibrant fabrics flank rows of work tables. Overhead, powerful lamps hang suspended like latticework, suggesting a place of intense concentration and creativity.

The 49-year-old instructor and creative designer has built costumes for performance houses like the Canadian Stage Company and the Théâtre Français in Toronto and says the key to making great costumes is to see beyond the ordinary and let a garment reveal itself from its humble roots.

“It’s just clothing until it becomes a costume. You need to leave yourself wide open and let the thing create itself,” she said.

Since 1985, Haidner-Seif has taught wardrobe design and managed York’s Costume Shop where students get to make every single costume or wardrobe accessory used in the school’s many student performance productions.

Haidner-Seif teaches students to draft patterns, take measurements correctly, cut fabric, plan their designs and think outside the box — a piece of scarf can become the trim on a luxurious dress or the tail of a stuffed toy can become a collar, for example.

With extremely limited budgets, imagination becomes a precious commodity as student designers have to visualize an impressive finished product matched together piecemeal from a pile of dreary old clothes and scraps of material.

Haidner-Seif feels it’s a beneficial rite of passage for students to learn to stretch a small budget by thinking creatively, especially since it prepares them for the realities of actual theatre production.

“You need to be able to see the potential in a piece of garbage. When you have nothing, you’re forced to be inventive,” she said.

In the 25 years she’s been teaching students how to create costumes, Haidner-Seif has seen nearly 1,000 of them walk through her doors and she considers them all a part of her family in one way or another. Her passion for teaching students is unmistakable and she finds joy in passing her knowledge on to the next generation.

“They’re like my kids — I’m proud of them. The most rewarding part of all is that I’ve given a piece of myself to them,” Haidner-Seif said.

Ottawa looks at keeping Nortel Canadian

Experts say it could be difficult for the Conservative government to justify taking action to block the sale of Nortel’s assets to Swedish telecom giant Ericsson for US$1.13 billion, wrote the Toronto Star July 28.

“When you allow (miners) Inco, Falconbridge and Alcan – which are real icons and the wealth of Canada in terms of natural resources – to go into foreign hands, it’s very hard to make an about-face on Nortel,” said Theo Peridis, professor of strategic management and international business at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

York student winner pumped to have Chris Bosh in his court

York student Naji Naeemzada showed Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh who’s boss, wrote the Vaughan Citizen July 27. The Vaughan resident was this year’s winner of the Direct Energy Driveway Challenge. On Friday, Naeemzada received the prize most basketball fans can only dream of – a chance to showcase your moves against the six-time NBA All-Star.

“You never know if you are going to win or not. A month later, I got a call and could not believe it was me,” Naeemzada said.

Naeemzada entered the second annual Direct Energy contest online, after which he and six other semi-finalists were randomly selected to attend a Raptors game in April at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

While at the game, Naeemzada ’s name was chosen a second time to reveal him as the grand-prize winner. “I am very excited and nervous but, if I play Bosh, of course I will beat him. I got this crossover coming up, so he better be quick enough to stop me,” Naeemzada said jokingly. “I’m not worried at all, this is my home so I have home court advantage,” he added.

In the end, the York University computer networking major led his white team to victory, pulverizing Bosh’s reds 11 to 5.