Baba Yaga Music Home » Encyclopedic Dictionary » Costume Index » Many-Colored-Land Costumes »
"A costume is a magic garment which helps concentrate the powers of imagination, expression, emotion and movement into the creation and projection of a character to an audience."
An Effective CostumeAn effective costume engages the audience's attention and enhances the production and the performance. However, the characteristics of an effective costume vary with the venue. Clever costume details that would be appreciated in an intimate setting, such as a private party or small restaurant, may miscarry in the typical venue for a dance troupe, where the performers are set apart from the audience on a stage or stage area. When a solo performance is on a stage, scale back on details and dial up the impact by making the costume strong and easy to read at a distance. When a group is on stage, the costumes must also be easy to read at a distance but must also be harmonious with each other.
"Nearly every costume in the group has some variation within the theme. Often, each dancer is differently costumed. However, if this is so, there will always be a unifying factor throughout, be it shape, colour, period, national detail or ornament. When the costumes vary very considerably, the dressmaker must make sure that whatever factor or detail is uniform in all the group, it is exactly uniform, as this forms the essential 'tying together' detail."— Mary Kent Harrison
Group dances are especially problematic because every extra person on stage increases the possibility of sending a contradictory message if you haven't analyzed WHAT the message is and how you will reinforce it with the costuming!
Arabesque Dance Company of Canada sets a standard for "simple" Raqs Sharqui costumes that blend on stage into a lavish and delightful whole. Beautiful fabric, lush colors, simple shapes, and a bit of glitter and glam create harmonious impact!
Jawaahir Dance Company specializes in Middle Eastern folk dances. Their costuming follows the same principles as Arabesque Dance company does: Beautiful fabric, simple shapes, and a bit of jack-daw shiny. The result? Real impact on stage.
A beautifully pared-down professional presentation by Carolena and Fat Chance Belly Dance. The common design elements and bold touches of color tie the group together with minimum cost and effort. Any weakness or hesitation by less-skilled dancers will be mitigated by the harmony of the costuming.
Mary Kent Harrison, How to Dress Dancers: Costuming Techniques for Dance, 1975, Midas Books.
Read My Hips has done a good job of American Tribal group costuming for more than a decade, counting on consistency and simplicity to make an impact on stage.
An Effective MessageBefore planning the costuming, define your reason for being on stage. This can as simple as: American Tribal group wants to perform together on stage. Or it can be a complex story or theme, with several sub-themes in action at the same time. Once you know your reason or story, then drill down to details.
Deliver The MessageStage costumes must project OUT to the audience. The audience must be able to "read" them at a distance.
|Q: You mean that my elaborate henna and tattoo decorations will look like smudges on stage?
A: Depends. Notice the difference between Sharon Kihara's back tattoos and the ones on her arms. Which ones can be read at a distance?
Red is a color associated with courage, danger, energy, passion, defiance and aggression. "It has been demonstrated that a person driving an automobile in traffic will feel a much stronger urge to pass a red car than a blue car, whatever make, model or size the car might be."
Yellow is the first color that the human eye notices. The right yellow denotes confidence, extraversion, emotional strength, creativity. It is a symbol of the deity in many religions. But pure yellow can irritate, lower self-esteem, provoke fear and anxiety.
Ornamentation and jewelry should enhance the desired message, silhouette, color blocking or motion. Tribal dancers often use too much; other dancers too little.
Take Care of Your DancersYour dancers cannot do their best if 'something' about the costume is distracting them
The costume should flatter the individual dancer as well as the group.. within reason. Do not leave one or two dancers feeling and looking like beached whales.
"Although it is for the designer to create the atmosphere of the costumes, both as the group and individuals, it is the costumier's task to see that the designs are adapted to each dancers's needs so that each one appears to perfection, both in his or her own right and as part of the group... Nothing looks worse than a set ofmass-produced costumes which barely, if ever, fit any member of the cast. Each must be made separately, with careful perfectoin for every individual dancer, as if it were intended for the main soloist. Only then does the group look really well-costumed."— Mary Kent Harrison
A dance costume must be able to be danced in.
|Atlanta Belly Dance inserted a lot of information about the durability and fit of purchased costumes on their Costume overview page. Highly recommend that you read it before purchasing anything online!
"The costumes have to read as well from the balcony as from the first three rows, so detail and texture or color must balance dubtlety with projection. THey must flatter the lead performers. Although entertainers, especially dancers, provide the best foundation a costume designer could ask for, even their bodies are not perfect... A short-waisted torso must look long, wide hips must be minimized, narrow shoulders must become broad...Most important, the performers must be comforable as the sign, strethc, spin, slide, bend, breathe and sweat. And they must be able to change costumes in seconds... all this must be built into the design." —Joanne Mattera, Costuming for the Stage, Threads Magazine.
Dancers Have Responsibilities,TooDo not trigger exception reports in the audience mind. Here's what each individual DANCER can do to assist.
Please do not get upset if a costume shape is not the most flattering choice for YOU. Yes, a certain kind of neck or bra style might suit you better... or the costume might be more flattering on the younger dancers ... but perfection is a consideration for your SOLO costume. Ditto for the amount of ornamentation or bling. On stage in a group, less is usually more; a simpler presentation contributes to the audience perception of synchronization and power.
Do not make looking thin on stage your ultimate goal. Make a healthy, toned look your goal. Wear a body stocking if you do not want to sport a bare tummy.. MANY dancers use body stockings (skin tone or colored) to feel less 'exposed' or to dress more conservatively when performing.
The Dancer's responsibilities:
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
©2012 - 2015 by Maura Enright
Latest revision: 2015.11.22
© means the content is copyrighted.
Your links to this content are much appreciated.