As the College’s resident costume designer and costume studio supervisor, Belz can usually be found working in her studio in the Henle Dance Pavilion or pulling things out of costume storage in the Yulman Theater. Aside from designing for Union productions, she works with several professional theaters and museums in the area to design costumes for shows and historic events. While that usually keeps her busy and combines a variety of skills and interests, she enjoys an array of hobbies, including baking, knitting, hiking, traveling and chasing after two very active and creative kids.
One of her favorite subjects to learn and teach outside of theater is historic foodways, which means some weekends she is either deep in cooking research books or standing over a stove or hearth demonstrating or preparing historic food preparation for museums.
Originally from Alaska, Belz traveled across the U.S. before receiving her bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts degrees in costume design and technology. After working for several years in a variety of theaters, she settled in Schenectady with her husband, Marc, and their children, Cirdan, 7, and Rylan, 4. Some of her other favorite things to do in the area are exploring the many historic sites and great hiking trails and going apple picking in the fall.
FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING:
Does email count? Honestly, that and my calendar are the things I check first off. There is no way I would remember everything I had to do if I did not look at my calendar every morning. I love checking in to see what new ideas or questions my students and colleagues have for me. So I definitely open my email with excitement first thing in the morning.
ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES:
I want to say some life-changing, eye-opening work of literature. However, with young kids I am reading the “Lego Star Wars guide to the Galaxy” and “Super Hero Girls” comics pretty much on the daily at my house.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED:
My costume shop manager in undergrad was an unflappably calm woman. As all of the students would be flying around and panicking about the costumes and the show that was about to open as everything went wrong, and she would calmly work in the middle of the chaos and tell us, "At the end of the day, it's just a school play." I knew she valued her work and artistry. Rather than diminishing the work we were doing, she was trying to give us perspective. As an artist, and especially when I was a student, it seemed that making each tiny detail completely perfect was the most important thing in the world. But now I am beginning to understand there must be more balance in life. Physical and emotional health, being able to work with a good attitude, enjoying what you are doing... all of that is more important.
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS:
I love the costume studio for the creativity and space it offers for designing and building costumes. I have recently been enjoying the arts quad area between Henle and the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts. The garden there is lovely, and the benches afford a view over Jackson’s Garden. Sometimes I will take my classes there. If you see a bunch of people in weird clothes or strange makeup over there, that would be us.
Tea. The actual food for breakfast varies, but it's pretty non-negotiable that I have a hot mug of strong, black tea every morning. I never add sugar, just some oat milk creamer.
NETFLIX OR AMAZON:
I am more likely to be watching food history or costume history shows on YouTube. If I do watch something formal, usually Netflix. The latest shows I've been watching with my kids are “Baking Impossible” and “Making Fun.” We love combining engineering and design at my house, and, even better, the creations in “Making Fun” led behind-the-scenes by a build coordinator who is a Union alum.
My husband is the one who listens to podcasts, so more often he calls me over to hear something he thinks will interest me. Anytime we have a road trip, he saves episodes of “Good Job Brain” for me. Especially the all-quiz bonanza ones.
ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD:
Speaking more languages. I'm working on it, but I admit I am terribly shy about actually speaking with people who already speak the language I am learning.
ANOTHER SUBJECT YOU WISH YOU COULD TEACH:
Maybe history or archaeology? I edge into that with some of my classes. But that was what I wanted to do before I got into historical costuming and theater.
MOST CREATIVE EXCUSE YOU HEARD FOR A LATE ASSIGNMENT:
The ones I like the best are the unique problems that happen when students are learning to sew for the first time. It's amazing the unexpected things that can go wrong. One of my all-time favorites was the student who asked for an extra day because “I cut out the pants with two left legs, and then I sewed the legs shut. So I have to make new ones now with both legs that your feet can go through.”