More Costuming Peeves and Hints

I got several responses to my last blog, and I’ll share some of them, but first I want to talk about troupe costuming.

In my opinion, there should be a consistency to troupe costuming. 

I’ve had a troupe for many years. I love troupe dancing, adore it and work hard at it.  You can ask my peeps in our Mystical Oasis Student Troupe; (M.O.S.T.) how seriously I take troupe.

Jasel and I spend hours creating a choreography, then we spend weeks teaching and learning the choreography, and more weeks practicing that same choreography! So, when we perform, I want the audience to see the dang choreography!

Ya know what I’m sayin’?

Whether it’s a soloist or a troupe, when dancers make an entrance, the audience looks at them first, to see they look like and what they are wearing and then they see the dance. That’s just the way it is. So, as I said in my last blog, if there is a costuming problem, it draws the eye and it’s hard to watch the performance.

I love watching other troupes perform, and I want to see their choreography, floor patterns and creativity. I’ve also judged troupes in competition for many years, and if you want people to see your dance, you need to have matching costumes.

When a troupe comes out in matching costumes, it takes only seconds to see the costumes and then you are almost immediately drawn into the dance.  When a troupe enters with inconsistent costuming, the audience looks at each dancer and what she is wearing; it distracts from the performance.

I once judged a lovely troupe who had great energy, but there were six of them and each one had a different costume. When I say different, I don’t mean color. I mean, there was a tribal costume, a cabaret costume, a ‘Gypsy’ costume, etc. It’s great to allow for each dancer to express who she is with her costuming, but it’s very distracting.

To me, troupe dancing is a group of dancers who dance together as a team or a tribe, not a bunch of soloists sharing a stage and doing the same dance. It’s the synchronicity that makes troupe dancing, so riveting to watch.

So here are some troupe costuming tips:

Costuming needs to match. You can all wear the same exact costume, or the same costume in different colors. I’ve also seen the same colors but each one has a different belt design which isn’t too distracting.

When I design a costume for my troupe, I either make them all the same, or the same but in different colors. Sometimes we have matching jewelry and hair adornments, and sometimes with these aspects, I allow for individual expression.

For our Halloween set, we dressed as zombies one year and vampires the next and all individually designed because it was just for fun, not serious like a theatrical stage show.

One of my pet peeves is a troupe with the exact same costume down to the jewelry and hair pieces and some have belly covers and some don’t. To me that is Tacky with a capital T. If one person wears a belly cover, everyone should be wearing a belly cover. I hate it when I see the ‘big’ girls with belly covers and the ‘small’ girls without them. A belly cover looks good on everyone, people!

I also believe that troupe costumes should be made to flatter ALL figures! I’ve seen some real sad sights, very distracting sights, cringe worthy sights.

My troupe consists of a variety of women from petite to voluptuous and from average height to six foot. We constantly get complimented on our costumes because they are designed to flatter any figure.

So that’s my two cents on troupe costuming and now for feedback from other dancers on costuming boos. They brought up several good points that I didn’t mention.

I once watched a dancer (well really her boobs) whose bra was cut so low I don't know how her boobs didn't jump out.  One of my biggest pet peeves is dancers who do not cover their bras with material before decorating.  They use a colored bra and just hang stuff off of it, but to me it still screams "under-wear" not costume.  Also along those lines is not covering the back of the bra - dancers should cover all "bra parts" or wear a vest of some sort to cover the back of the bra. …………..R. B.

I have an additional pet peeve. I cringe when costuming, (and dancing), clashes with the type of music. I love the creativity I see in tribal and alternative belly dance, but not when it disrespects cultural traditions.  I once took a Middle Eastern friend to an event.  She had a great time, clapping and smiling at all the dancers, except for one in alternative costuming dancing to a modern mid-eastern song.  I don't even think it was inappropriate or insulting, but to her it was jarring, confusing, and she just plain didn't like it.  I had a lot of explaining to do.  ………….S. J.

Like minds flow together. So here is the thought I have been pondering. I notice that a lot of the newer costumes are leaving a lot of exposure between the breasts. What you see is pretty much half the breast and pretty close to the nipple. Too much gap! It’s too much exposure for my taste. I have given this a lot of thought; am I being too picky? Am I over-dramatizing a difference in costume style? After much thought, this is what I came up with. When I see this type of costume, my eyes keep wandering back to the cleavage to see if one or both of the girls have fallen out. I am so busy ‘cleavage checking’ that I miss the dance and any other beautiful aspect of the costume. I feel like I am in the middle of a train wreck, don’t want to look but can’t help it. I just want to admire the beauty of the dance, dancer and costume and not worry about exposed body parts.  ……………...L.C