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What Costume to Wear?

How do you decide what costume to wear? What colour is best for certain events? Do you recommend coins or fringe? These are just a few of the questions I get asked by clients. To my knowledge there are no set rules that everyone follows. Here are some hints for you to take into consideration when choosing a costume. After all, your costume is part of the package when you are asked to perform and the audience is expecting to be dazzled, not disappointed.

Think about your venue; is it well lit or dark, is the audience close or far away, how well will the audience see you and your costume? If the venue is well lit and you will be close to the audience, you can wear anything from a simple, not heavily decorated costume to a fully beaded/sequined costume because the audience will be able to see you and what you are wearing. If the venue is dark or the audience is far away, you may want to skip the simple costume and wear something more heavily decorated. You want to make sure the audience sees you and your costume, so you want to wear something that will catch what minimal light there is. This way the audience can follow you and the movement of your body. If you wear a simple costume with very little decorations, the audience may not be able to find you in the dark, especially if there is nothing glittery to reflect the light. They will miss a lot of the subtle moves and accents.

Another aspect is what type of dance will you be performing. Obviously if you are performing Khaleegy you will wear a Khaleegy Thobe, etc. I'm referring to the mood of your dance, is it upbeat and fast or slow and sensual? Are you performing a drum solo or taxim? For upbeat, drum solo type dances you can wear lots of fringe, coins and other accessories that will make noise, accent your movements and the music. The noise of your costume actually adds to the atmosphere of fun and encourages the audience to join in. However, if performing a taxim or dancing to softer and slower music, you might want to avoid coins or anything that will clang against each other and be loud. This noise can drown out the music and distract the audience. They will miss the subtle nuances of the dance, your body's movements with the music and your dance will not be appreciated in the way you want. Glass or cloth fringe is okay because they don't make as much noise as coins.

Will you be doing lots of floor work or traveling across the dance floor? Make sure that your skirt suits the style of dance. I've seen dancers wear narrow skirts when performing floor work and wondered if the skirt was going to tear or the dancer was going to fall! Test out your costume before hand and make sure that you can move easily without any worries. Remember, narrow skirts (panel, fishtail, etc.) usually restrict movements below the waist to smaller variations. A full circle or petal skirt allows for much larger movements such as arabesques, large hip circles, fancy turns and of course floor work.

As for colours, I strongly believe that a dancer should wear whatever colour suits her personally. Green and blue look great on redheads, red and orange look great on brunettes, brown and purple are great on blondes. These are just generalities though. Everyone has their own tastes and likes; find the colours you like and work with them.

What colour do you wear for different events? Parties and festivals; go for bold, bright colours like reds, blues, purples and greens. For a more formal occasion, go royal with gold, white, silver, bronze and russet. Weddings; subdued colours that won't take the spotlight away from the bride, pale shades are always good. I've heard that white should be worn, but I've seen dancers not wear white without any complaints by the wedding party.

Again, these are just suggestions and practical issues to consider. There really aren't any strict rules that you have to follow. Don't forget to test out your costume beforehand to ensure that everything is in place and there are no distracting loose strands, etc. Then go out there and have fun!!


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