Archive for tribal costumes

Birds of a feather… are dancing together

separated by design

By their costume you shall know them

At our Tribal Hafla (Food Drive) in Fredericksburg VA this past weekend, all the dancers danced together in one large group.

Now sometimes, we’ll separate the levels by songs, and have one level dance at a time. At this event though, I just wanted to flow to go on and on, and not worry about which song was on.

The upper level dancers did “take over” a few songs for our specialty prop numbers though: the dancers using Veil, Sword, or Candles did use the entire song, leaving the others to stay in the Chorus Line, but overall, most of the set list was Mixed. Just the way I like it!

It just so happened that the upper level dancers all recently acquired a particular costume style, and we used that to help everyone remember “who to dance with”. Since the event was a “Hafla” – meaning Party – the basics level students were allowed to wear whatever costume they wished, because wearing what they want is part of their fun. So we all were able to tell right away, when anyone went out front to dance, whether to go out with them or not. This way the levels stayed separated, and no newbies were nonplussed.
I don’t know if we’ll have another chance to use this “separated by costume” criteria, but it worked just fine this time, so we’ll keep it in mind.

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Sepia Saturday, tribal style

I love my colors! But I like fooling around with images too. So, Sepia Saturday:

tribal dancer

tribal look in two-tone

Inspiration thanks to: Not my Circus Not My Monkeys

Ruckus the American Eskimo Dog Blog

– See more at:

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we wear what we want!

In my last post “the ‘whatever’ look in costuming“, I wondered what my performing group would look like for our Tribal number at the end of our New Year’s Eve show, since we wouldn’t be changing into special costumes. I figured we could do without full skirts, and just skip our Skirt Moves during this one 7-minute song (Sandstorm by Farzad Farhangi). So here we are:

bellydancers in different costumes

after our show for Fredericksburg First Night

That’s what we wore for our Tribal number – we’re wearing the costumes from the choreographies we performed (sword, veil, cane, and candles). This is the first time we’ve ever done TOBD without changing into specific costuming – obviously, “Tribal” is not defined by what you wear, but HOW YOU DANCE with your group, right? I’ll be adding this photo to the new collection I started on Pinterest that show different costumes we’ve worn: Tribal Costuming.

I know the ATS® people consider their costuming to be part of the definition of their style of Tribal Bellydance, but after our personal explorations in costuming this past year (see this post), I no longer agree with that narrow definition. What do you think?

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the “whatever” look in costuming

My PRISM Dancers’ New Year’s Eve show is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to see what our last number looks like! The show has multiple solos, duets, and trios in various styles and costuming… then we’re all finishing together in one song of Tribal Odyssey Bellydance. But we’re not changing costumes for it!

This will be the first time we haven’t changed into “tribal-style” outfits; all nine of us will be wearing whatever costume we happen to be in by the end of the show!

The troupe I was in during my early dance career, Topkapi Folkloric Troupe, used to finish almost every show with a group dance in “whatever” costume the performers had on by then, but I’ve never done that in our PRISM shows. Can’t wait to see our Dress Rehearsal tomorrow!

blank costumes


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creating a unified look

Tee shirts become costume accessories!

My performing group, PRISM, has always been as colorful as Birds of Paradise when it comes to our tribal costumes.
I eschew wearing plain black onstage because it absorbs light and swallows the dancer. But, to look more in line with other tribal troupes, one of our dancers suggested designing black costume accessories to visually tie our motley crew together. Let’s face it, “black is where it’s at” for tribal dancers–at least as far as the bellydance world goes.
And though I personally cringe at everyone wearing black, I do like how this unifies our disparate costuming.

Here’s how I made this Tribal Look:

Materials: (for each dancer) one man’s long sleeve cotton T shirt in a size that will be roomy but not humongous for you. I wear size 14, so I bought a men’s size medium. In my performing group we have all sizes from petite to queen, and men’s small, medium, and large sizes worked fine for us.

1. Cut off the collar and the cuffs (you can wear the wristbands to wipe your face while you exercise).

Tee tutorial photo 1

2. Fold in half length-wise and lay flat on the floor (the shirt, that is!). Cut off the body of the shirt right under the arms. This piece will be your accent skirt so save it.

3. Cut a scoop shape across the top of the shirt, to within a couple of inches of the shoulder seam, making a sort of “boat neck”.

Tee tutorial photo 2

4. Make several cuts about 3 – 4″ into the sleeve from the sleeve bottom (my sleeves had a seam here running the full sleeve length, so I cut off the seam after I made the vertical cuts). I made these sections about 3/4″ wide. These will be the ties on the sleeves.

Tee tutorial photo 3

5. I cut off every other section so the ties would be further apart; and then cut right across the body of the shirt, eliminating the armpit entirely. I also cut away the extra sleeve material below the slashes (from the elbow to the wrist), then cut the lower sleeve up the middle to where the elbow will be, so that two pieces will hang down at the elbow.

Tee tutorial photo 4

6. Tie the sleeve’s slashed ties together in square knots and try on your shrug.

Tee tutorial photo 5 (last image; end of post)

7. Turn the “skirt” upside down so the T shirt hem is now the hipband; cut up both sides of the skirt, leaving the hem intact. When you pull this on over your tribal skirt, you’ll have a front panel and a back panel.

Pull and stretch the corners of the skirt and the hanging pieces of sleeve, it looks better that way. That’s it!

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