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Although there are many styles of belly dance costuming - from Egyptian to Tribal Fusion - a few basic guidelines will help you create a beautiful costume.
Unless you are belly dancing as part of a troupe, a dancer has a many options available to her when it comes to dance costuming. Some of what a belly dancer wears has to do with her dance style and the music to which she is performing. However, whether a dancer’s style is Egyptian, Turkish, American, Tribal Fusion, Gothic, or any other construct of this dance form, a few guidelines will allow you the dancer to put together a dynamic belly dance costume.
First, understand the different styles of music and belly dance. This is particularly important to someone new to the dance, someone who has taken classes for a while and is purchasing a costume for a student show. For example, a piece of Tribal Electronica would contrast with a sequined Egyptian belt and bra.
If you’re not certain whether or not your music and belly dance costume will clash, ask your teacher or call that Internet site you plan to order from and ask for advice. Go to a few belly dance shows to see what other dancers wear. Many belly dance videos include performances as special features – these too can give you a better sense of costuming.
Whatever your style, one key feature of any belly dance costume is its color. For example, black and neutral colors can disappear on stage. Some shows may use room lighting while others take advantage of professional stage lighting. A dancer usually goes into a performance unaware of the lighting and the background setting where she’ll be performing.
To counter the possibility of disappearing into the background, include a second or third color into a costume, particularly when wearing a black or neutral color costume. A costume with three shades or colors also helps to keep the costume from an unvarying look – imagine the monotony of a top, hip belt, skirt, and accessories all in royal blue.
Use the color wheel, complementary and analogous colors, if you are uncertain about combining bright colors. Consider that color combinations too bold for everyday clothing (bright pink and orange, lime green and teal) can make for a striking dance costume.
If you dance for groups for whom belly dance is part of their culture, avoid prints or costume components that include animal prints, flowers, or other realistic representations of people and nature that the group may find inappropriate because of their religion.
Consider if a triangular or rectangular hip scarf is more becoming or comfortable. Decide if you are more comfortable with a layered chiffon skirt or an opaque silk or satin skirt. Although a particular piece may call to you, knowing what looks best on your body means that you will get the most wear from the items in your belly dance wardrobe.
The keys to putting together a great belly dance costume is to go with pieces that flatter your body and your coloring. Bring at least three colors or shades into your costume (metallic colors do count) to create a dynamic, eye-catching look.