Archive for troupe costuming

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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tribal skirt combinations… without a skirt!

We all love the thrill of new costuming! When my performing group had two shows coming up featuring TOBD, I wanted to change up our look, just for fun. Basically, I wanted us to wear pants instead of skirts! Well, we always wear pants under our skirts, but I mean costume pants like Melodias or something similar – NOT those blasted “harem pants” that I loathe like the devil. So good, we’ll wear pants.

The problem is, we have lots of Skirt Combinations I wanted us to be able to do when we’re dancing. So the idea came to me to re-purpose some small circular veils I have but don’t use very much. Now, these aren’t any old kind of veil, these are rounded rectangles with gold ribbon trim – similar to the veils we typically use for Tribal Odyssey veil dancing, but smaller. The fabric has a nice weight to it, a bit heavier than chiffon but I’m not sure what it is, perhaps organza.

I had a heck of a time trying to explain this to my dancers – they couldn’t seem to imagine it… so I made a couple sets of these “Skirt Panels” and took photos. Now, here are the details:



veil ready to be cut

1. This “half-circle” veil (really a rounded rectangle) is folded in half on the floor; the extra folded material that’s ‘folded over’ will be removed. The straight edge (with the gold trim) will hang from hip to ankle when finished, so that’s the first measurement. Here’s a close-up view of what I’m cutting:

close up

removing extra 5″ from top edge of fold

After I cut along the fold, the leftover material will make a scarf. The panels  would’ve been too long if I didn’t take those 5 inches off.

2. Can you believe some people don’t know what a casing is? That’s okay! The casing is where the elastic goes. (I always use elastic, I HATE drawstrings!) The edge that I just cut is now folded over and sewn, which forms the casing. Folding over twice will keep the cut edge from fraying.

Here you can see how I’m sewing the casing on my antique sewing machine  (who needs pins!):

sewing is easy – you can do it!

3. See the purple elastic? Just make sure your casing is wide enough for the elastic to fit in easily. Attach a large safety pin to one end of your elastic (which should be cut to fit snugly around your hips) so you can slide it easily through the casing from one end to the other, making sure the “right side” of the material is facing out (so you don’t have one panel inside-out). Sew the ends of the elastic together.

If you’re still not sure what we’re doing here, this photo might help make it clear:

hanging skirt panels

now it’s starting to make sense!

That was easy, right? The straight edge goes in front, and the curved edges go in back, at least – that’s how I like it. I think they rock! What do you think?

PRISM dancing in separate duets

we’re dancing in separate duets here. the duet on the right is getting ready to do skirt combos (and yes they’re wearing finger cymbals)!

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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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