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Texture and Hand are Primary

You must have a fabric that drapes where it should drape, flares where it should flare, supports where it needs to be strong. Sometimes this is accomplished by creating a foundation structure over which the fashion fabric is laid, like bedlah belts and bras that are covered with delicate sequins and beads but which underneath are reinforced with layers of interfacing, buckram, grosgrain and boning. But in the case of most costuming, the fabric must support and move as desired, have the needed durability and hold up to the probable method of cleaning while looking good at the same time.
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(Egyptian, Turkish, American)
Folkloric Tribal
The Orientale dancer often wants a sleek, cosmopolitan, controlled silouette with a shiny, highly-decorated surface that broadcasts movement and reflects light.
  • Head: the Orientale hair is often its own ornament, styled and perhaps topped with a tiara or headband or a few flowers.
  • Torso: 2-piece Bedlah or form-fitting dress that shows movement.
  • Legs: Wide variety of skirts and pants, some straight, some form-fitting, some voluminous,
Folkloric does NOT mean making these out of old bedsheets. You are a performer, not a farmer. Make these stage-worthy with good fabrics and ornaments that can be read at a distance by an audience.
  • Head: headscarf, or headscarf over veil
  • Torso: tunic or galebeya with flared sleeves and slit sides.
  • Hips: Hip scarf
  • Legs: Skirt or Pantaloons
The folkloric costume with a spin on it: more color, more layers, more ornaments. An expansive silouette is usually valued, except in the case of minimalist Tribal Fusion stylings, which are sometimes no more than pants and a sports bra. Matte-finish fabrics on the base pieces (choli, skirt) provide a backdrop for layers of ethnic jewelry and scarves.
  • Head: The Tribal head is often elaborately covered: turbans, hair extensions, huge flowers, jewelry, ornamented veils.
  • Torso: A choli, sometimes with a coin bra worn over it, or a halter top in appropriate fabric.
  • Hips: Tassel belts, ornamented camel ropes, Indian torans. Tribal dancers often choose skirts and belts that flare out during their frequent turns.
  • Legs: Skirt hem circumferences are huge: 10 yards or more. Worn over pantaloons. Multiple layers of skirts and overskirts are not uncommon.
  • Glamorous fabrics: beaded, embroidered, silk, satin, sheer.
  • Ornamentation: Beads and Sequins. American Orientale: coin bra and belt sets as well.
  • Good materials are important; they make a more professional presentation and reduce maintenance. Jennifer, writing in Yallah Magazine, 2013, suggested replacing cheap acrylic stones (that will crack and dull) with Czech rhinestones or Hot Fix Swaroski crystals. Cheap beads with paint that chips off should be replaced with beautiful bugle beading or beaded trim.
  • The right amount of ornamentation is important. Remove what does not complement your figure or the costume; sometimes that will include some of the fringe.
  • Do what you have to to make it fit YOU.
  • Pull your look together. Do you need a necklace, something on your arms, a shrug, different shoes, a headpiece? Make it happen.
  • Make sure your skirt or pants are also of good quality, well maintained, and fit you.
  • Rich, earthy colors.
  • Coin trim around all openings, earrings and necklaces
  • Matte finish fabrics. Hand-loomed fabrics. Assuit: you win the jackpot!
  • Traditional costuming for Raqs Beladi and Raqs Assaya
  • Black base pieces with colorful overskirts, pants, belts and turbans are common.
  • Indian fabrics and trims have become popular for skirts and cholis, replacing the cotton and rayon items.
  • Ethnic bangles and ornaments from anywhere are used freely.
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