Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Performance 101: Making your first performance a success!

So you've finally gotten to the point where you are ready to perform for an audience. You've come a long way and you want everyone to see what you've accomplished. Congratulations on your first performance!
Performing is about more than just the dance steps. Sure, you can be the best dancer ever born, but if you don't look or act like it... No one is going to pay any attention. Do you think anyone would pay attention to Rachel Bryce's performance if she looked like she had just rushed in from the gym? Or Suhaila? Would they have gotten where they are now?

Which would you rather see perform?
So let's start with your costume.
It doesn't have to be expensive, nor does it have to have a thousand bits of bling. If you are dancing in a troupe number, you will most likely not have to pick out your costume as most often times troupes will all wear the same costume.
Also, you can ask your teacher and other dancers that you trust and admire for costume advice. Pay attention to other dancers with a similar body type and coloring to you. Notice what you like and don't like about their costume.
Color The color of your costume is one of the most important factors. Don't pick a color just because it is your favorite color. That color may not work well with your skin tone or the song. Yellow would not be a good color for a mourning song, silver would not be a good color if your skin tone is very light and pale.

  1. A good rule of thumb is any color that makes your skin look like the living dead is a no no. Unless of course, you are doing a zombie dance `;~) But seriously, if the color makes your skin look washed out, move on to another color.
  2. If you have pale light skin: look at gold costumes. Stay away from black and silver- these will make you look even more pale! Sometimes, jewel tones can look awesome but it can be tricky so make sure to try on any costume before you buy!
  3. Honestly, I don't know enough about skin types to make accurate statements :( Almost everyone in my group has fairly light skin tones. Except my teacher who was very dark- she couldn't wear yellow but that is the only thing I recall her saying about colors.
Body Type Now the second factor to consider is your body type. It is often a misconception that if you are slender you can wear any costume style. Simply not true! Some styles will make you look like a bean pole. Nothing wrong with a bean pole, but that does not play up your attributes well.
  1. If you are slender and not so curvy, stay away from designs that cuts your midsection in half vertically. This costume is going to to accentuate your angular shape.
  2. Try finding a costume that gives the appearance of curves such as this style from Isis Exchange. On the bra, the straps curve slightly inward toward the neck that completes the curve of the cup. While the straight lined hip combined with the diagonal waist strap add a quite stunning effect.
  3. If you are more on the voluptous side, like me in the photos above, it is important to choose a costume that puts your assets into perspective.
  4. If you are large chested, don't wear too much bling. You will look even larger and take away from the whole effect. You want the audience to see you; not stare at your chest all night.
  5. Wear a costume that gives the appearance of curves to your midsection. Bisect vertically, never horizontally. Vertical lines will accentuate the curves and elongates the body. Horizontal lines will exaggerate and chunkify the body. Yes, I know that isn't a word, but you get my drift here `;~)
  6. If the waist to hip ration is small (i.e 40" waist and 42" hips) wear a belt with some curve to it. Do not wear a costume with waist straps. It may look good while you are standing there, but it will look funny and make you bulge oddly while dancing
  7. Speaking of bulging oddly, wear a mesh body suit like the one I'm wearing in the tribal costume above.
  8. You can also wear dresses such as this one or this.
Where to Find a Costume
  1. I highly recommend MoonDanceBellyDance for tribal and beginner costumes.
  2. You can often find good used costumes by going to Hafla's or signing up for a troupe's newsletter.
  3. Join bellydance communities online. Livejournal has several nice communities.
  4. You can make your own. It wont be any cheaper in the long run, but it will be worth it.
  5. Shira.Net has lots of information on where to buy costumes and how to make them.
Next week we'll discuss makeup!


  1. A couple things that I think are important...
    1. If you make your own costume bra, cover it and replace the straps. Don't just decorate the cups! Lots of wonderful costumes are ruined by underwear that hasn't been properly converted to outerwear

    2. Hair and makeup! If your hair isn't styled and your makeup isn't stage-worthy (and stage-proof), it can really ruin a performance!

    I don't agree with the mesh body stocking, but to each her own :-) For my particular configuration of fat, body stockings emphasize my bifurcated belly. In the end though, wear what makes you look and feel glam!

  2. Thanks for your comments `;~)

    1. Improper conversion of underwear is a definite ick! I will go into more specifics later, this is just a general costume one.

    2. This is the reason why I decided to write these topics, because it really does ruin a performance!!! Makeup is the next article to write and then I'll do hair.

    Body stocking: I have heard that from one other person, but never seen it do that. I know that it can make a huge difference, such as in my two pics above.

  3. A note on the pale skin thing.

    Some of us pale girls actually like to accentuate the fact that we are very pale. As a natural redhead I have the distinct, Scottish-Irish pale skin and I play it up with bold jewel tones and black clothing. There was a time when pale skin was the in thing after all ;)

    Many very pale girls actually look worse in pastels and pale colours as well, especially yellow and white :/

  4. Miss Twist, you caught a typo for me! I had meant that the black and silver would make you look pale. Must fix... Thanks `;~)

    I'm a Norse-Irish pale skinned redhead and prefer the jewel tones as well. But it has never been cool where I live to rock the pale...

  5. Very interesting post- I am curious to read the others in the set! I think you brought up a lot of points people don't usually think about. One thing I want to re-iterate is that, especially if you are nervous, getting an awesome costume squared away will be a huge advantage! I think it's a lot easier for people to bring out their stage presence/performance once they are all dooded up in a costume they feel comfortable and awesome looking in!