Thought Provoking Belly Dance Costumes: the good, the bad and the hideous

Amulya

Moderator
I admit I'm judging a performer by what they wear, but not necessarily in the way they think. My expectations of a dancer in a student costume are more modest than someone in a couture costume. If you show up looking like a beginner or a hobbyist on a budget, I'll expect you to dance like someone who isn't trying to make a full-time job out of performing, but if you show up looking like a million bucks, I'm going to expect you to dance like a million bucks.
Absolutely! People wouldn’t be judgemental of a student wearing student costumes.
I did get my students to perform, but we all wore very simple things, me included because I wanted us all to look equal, which is so much better looking than the teacher having a different costume. But that is maybe a personal taste thing I have?

Luckily when I was a student there were not many gate keeping teachers, there was one and I immediately fired her as my teacher LOL, she was a bully too. Costumes were already available in all sorts, and I liked to buy second hand and change them around to my personal taste and repair them.
This was looooooong ago, in the mid ‘90s and in The Netherlands. Off topic, but what I really hate is that the teachers back then handed out completely wrong information about origins of belly dance, they had copied articles with no references. But as student I assumed a teacher knows what they teach. Became extremely embarrassing when I went on Bhuz and found out!

The thing they did try to gate keep were workshops from famous foreign dancers. It was a horrible atmosphere because I was a new one going to those and they made me feel so uncomfortable. They were people who had been dancing longer and who had basically also done the same to my original teacher. The newer dancers wouod call them ‘the oude garde’ which loosely translates to ‘old guard’ or ‘old school’, not that they were old haha. But they were established and some would try to undermine newer dancers gigs (if they found out where and when they would offer themselves cheaper or just completely downtalk someone, claiming that the person was just their new student)
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I understand most dancers think I'm a pedantic buzzkill with my constant nagging about music being more important than costumes, but I'm sorry. The fundamental reason to dance is to move to music, and the reason to do these dances is to move to these styles of music. Otherwise you're just exercising in a fancy outfit to some song you didn't bother to understand or appreciate.
Pedantic? Yea - you are. So am I. So are most dancers who at least *try* to do things right. Dancers may argue over the correct way to do something, but trying and listening to each other is how we all learn and grow. My current teacher, who actually puts in an appearance here every now and then, researches the CRAP out of EVERYTHING to the best of her ability so her shows are as good as she can make them. Many, do not.

Its fine Tourbeau - we're glad you're here. I've missed your input since the death of Bhuz, its good to see ya back! {BOW HERE}
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
...teachers back then handed out completely wrong information about origins of belly dance, they had copied articles with no references...
And some of this crap is still being bandied about on the Internet. That horrid article "Masculine Belly Dance by 'Stephan'" is one such. Another whopper I read once was that men dance the Shikatt "over there" - boy did I get an earful when I related that one to my Moroccan friend. Not that it would stop me from dancing it, but I'd be clear that it wasn't normally done by men.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
"Pedantic" implies a narrow, ostentatious devotion to trivial detail. I wouldn't call anyone here pedantic. One can be well-educated and preserve the traditions and proprieties of dance without being pedantic.

Early on in belly dance as a popular activity, teachers did their best to educate students based on the information they had at the time, generally obtained word of mouth from their own teachers. I started dancing a long time ago. When people, including academics, began to research the subject as if belly dance was more than something risqué girls used to entertain their men, understanding expanded. With the advent of internet and good research, it's easy for better educated modern dancers to be contemptuous of earlier teachers' lack of proper historical training, but it's a cheap sort of superiority.

Twenty years or so in, I was dismayed to discover how much of my traditional hand-me-down knowledge turned out to be dubious. I learned better, but I'll be shot for a jack rabbit before I embark on criticizing my own teachers for not having access to anything more than what they themselves were told.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
We had a real mean teacher here that was pretty much the big deal. However, when newer, kinder teachers came along, people jumped ship in droves to take classes with them and that is when said old guard nasty beyatch changed her tune!
 

Tourbeau

Active member
I did get my students to perform, but we all wore very simple things, me included because I wanted us all to look equal, which is so much better looking than the teacher having a different costume.
We called that "Gladys Knight and the Pips," because if the teacher was wearing a different costume, they often did a different choreography, too. I don't know of many situations where the students are supposed to serve as the teacher's backup dancers. I guess if you want to dress your students up like Saidi guys and dance around while you do your Farida Fahmy imitation? Otherwise, if the teacher wants to be a star, do a solo, and if your students need to follow your lead in order to remember the choreography (assuming you're not doing ATS), rehearse them better until they don't need you onstage with them. When I know the teacher is dancing with the group, I just end up comparing everybody else to the teacher.

The thing they did try to gate keep were workshops from famous foreign dancers. It was a horrible atmosphere because I was a new one going to those and they made me feel so uncomfortable. They were people who had been dancing longer and who had basically also done the same to my original teacher. The newer dancers wouod call them ‘the oude garde’ which loosely translates to ‘old guard’ or ‘old school’, not that they were old haha. But they were established and some would try to undermine newer dancers gigs (if they found out where and when they would offer themselves cheaper or just completely downtalk someone, claiming that the person was just their new student)
When/where I was a starting, you had to know the sponsor and be on a paper mailing list to find out when events were happening outside of your home studio, so sometimes it did seem kind of gatekeeping-ish, if not occasionally like some teachers wanted to hoard information, either because they wanted to make sure they always knew more than everybody else or they wanted to keep workshop choreographies for themselves and their friends. I'm not saying teachers are obligated to teach the workshop choreographies they pay for to students who don't attend. I don't believe they are (especially with more advanced students who should be paying for their own supplementary educational experiences), but I have also encountered teachers who use workshops as clique control in their favor (which is petty), and teachers who cannot bear the idea of students seeing them in imperfect learning mode as a fellow student (which is vain).

There's a fine line between being honest with a student about not being ready to go to a workshop and looking like a jerk who is trying to keep them from learning beyond you. On one hand, as a teacher you have a responsibility to the larger dance community to try to stop a student from going to an event if you know they'll be a disruption to everybody else. (Maybe don't go to an advanced workshop if you've only been dancing a month?) On the other hand, who are you to tell a student who wants to spend big money to sit quietly in the back and not get their full money's worth out of a workshop? (Most of the more experienced dancers are not going to absorb 100% of the workshop's content, either.) It kind of depends on the temperament of the student, and presumably you know who can appropriately manage their ignorance and who can't from the time you've spent together in class.
 

Amine

Member
I had one student who was far more interested in planning costumes than in learning to dance. That obsession was a wee bit crazy making, and more than once I had to explain that getting to wear beautiful costumes on stage was the reward for learning to dance.
Yes, you were right. Some apprentices are fascinated by costumes, and sometimes put a lot of money into them, they spend more on costumes than on learning performance, it happened to me for a while.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Yes, you were right. Some apprentices are fascinated by costumes, and sometimes put a lot of money into them, they spend more on costumes than on learning performance, it happened to me for a while.
It's an easy thing to fall into. Perhaps there's a bit of "clothes make the man" and "dress for the job you want and not the one you have" mentality in concentrating on costumes over skills. And besides: pretty costumes are so much fun.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Yes, you were right. Some apprentices are fascinated by costumes, and sometimes put a lot of money into them, they spend more on costumes than on learning performance, it happened to me for a while.
I think everybody is in the beginning! Everything is new and exiting, including the costumes. And if someone isn’t used to so many beads and shiny things it can be really appealing! Sure was for me! I bought my first professional costume early, packed it away safely and used it when I felt right to use it.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Found some new ones. What do we think?
The asymmetrical leopard spot outfit doesn't do anything for me - but I'm a symmetrical kind of a guy. The 2nd one with the apparent mermaid skirt is kinda cool. It might even be adaptable for males, although I'm not sure that type of top would be a good look on me, even with the bra removed. The tutu one looks dumb... The aqua one doesn't do anything for me either. "Flower barf" looks like the loser in a florist shop fight. I like the blue lace one.

The winged one on Pinterest could be saved possibly. I'm not sure what that mess on her right arm is, remove it so it looks like the left and you might have something.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
No favorites among these, though the black lace and turquoise would be okay without the single batwing. Unlike our Veiled Male, I do like asymmetry, but attaching a wing to the underside of the bra... I don't think so. It looks too much like, "I had this much fabric left over and didn't want to waste it." The purple lace top with red flowers is kinda nice (I like the over the hand sleeves), but the hip exposure combined with a see through skirt is a little TMI for my taste. I'm still thinking about how (and if) the others might be salvaged.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Single bag wing haha and flower barf!
I don’t understand the random batwing either. Not a fan of combining black and turquoise
 

Tourbeau

Active member
Apparently, Big YouTube Brother decided that I wanted to see crazy bras today. I know this thread is normally for still pictures, but seeing them in action is part of appreciating the insanity.

For anyone who thinks those cheap ceiling fixtures you see in rentals are "boob lights"....

Golden Era Bellydance


Yeah, this looks like Hoda Sultan's bust is wearing a necklace and a pair of earrings. (Skip ahead to 1:35 when she starts singing or the closeups toward the end if you don't want to watch the whole clip.)

شوبش ... حسن الإمام
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Hmmmm... I've used many an "orphan" earring as costume embellishment, but never "there". In fact, my very first costume vest had a pair of tassels "there". I removed them...

Necklaces as belly drapes are as old as the dance - some work better than others...
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Apparently, Big YouTube Brother decided that I wanted to see crazy bras today. I know this thread is normally for still pictures, but seeing them in action is part of appreciating the insanity.

For anyone who thinks those cheap ceiling fixtures you see in rentals are "boob lights"....

Golden Era Bellydance


Yeah, this looks like Hoda Sultan's bust is wearing a necklace and a pair of earrings. (Skip ahead to 1:35 when she starts singing or the closeups toward the end if you don't want to watch the whole clip.)

شوبش ... حسن الإمام
Nothing golden about these unless you want to use the term "golden tacky dancing."
 

Amulya

Moderator
For anyone who thinks those cheap ceiling fixtures you see in rentals are "boob lights"...

LOL I can’t imagine what that looks like
 
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