Which Penn State alum recently appeared on the wildly popular ABC TV program “Dancing with the Stars?” How did she get there without dancing? And how did the Penn State Alumni Association help her in her quest?
Rebecca Farmer ’03 appeared on the May 12 broadcast of ABC TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” without having to master the Mambo, chug through the Cha-Cha, or tame the Tango. Farmer’s turn on the show was as the winning costume designer for the “Design a Dance” contest. Earlier in the contest, the show’s fans picked the dance, the Quickstep, the music, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing!),” the dancers, and then the costumes from among five finalists.
When Farmer learned she was one of the finalists she says, “I treated it as if it was a campaign. I contacted everyone I ever knew and asked them to vote for me.” As part of her campaign, Farmer e-mailed the Alumni Association to ask her Penn State family for help and they in turn suggested she post her plea on the Alumni Association’s Facebook page. Her efforts paid off—she garnered 40 percent of the vote—and Farmer won a trip to Los Angeles to watch the dancers perform in her costumes.
Before the dancers took the stage, “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron introduced the national audience of nearly 20 million viewers to a smiling Farmer, sitting next to her fiancé in the studio audience. “It was surreal,” Farmer says of her whirlwind visit to L.A. “I got to meet the show’s costume designer, and I was pleased that he changed very little from my original design.”
Farmer is back in New York City, where she lives and works in merchandising for Tommy Hilfiger. Her interest in fashion and costume design dates to her childhood. By high school, she was already working on costumes for school shows, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “As a theatre major at Penn State, I worked on many productions,” Farmer says. “I also designed the costumes for the play Search and Destroy and the Thespians’ production of Jesus Christ Superstar.” After Penn State, Farmer earned an MFA in costume design from Brandeis University near Boston. In addition to shows at Brandeis, Farmer’s costume design credits include regional theatre, Off-Broadway, and television. Her father, Edgar Farmer ’78g, is a professor of education at Penn State.
See Farmer’s designs in action on “Dancing with the Stars.”