Can a costume make–or break–a performance?

There are many reasons that we choose to wear a certain costume for a performance. Maybe its color matches the theme of the event, your audience expects a certain kind of costume, your dance style requires it, or it just makes you feel good that day. But can your choice of a costume make–or break–your performance?

I started thinking about that this Sunday evening after hearing these five words: “You should have worn that.” They came from my boyfriend, who having seen more of my performances than anyone else, is a very keen observer and purveyor of dance advice. He had just watched the video for a performance where I wore a tribaret style costume with multi-panel skirt and short coined fringe on the bra and belt. He commented on the way that the costumed moved and flowed with my movements, and accented them so that you could see every shimmy despite the performance being on a large stage. He’d seen the same choreography performed a few weeks earlier at an important event, but in a couture-style slim Egyptian lycra costume, which, while heavily beaded, is anything but swishy.

While he noted that I’d performed with essentially the same amount of energy and finesse as at the previous show, the performance in the tribaret costume seemed much more alive and dynamic simply because the costume complimented and amplified my movements. Now I’m wondering, did my minimalist, slimline costume “break” my last performance? This has gotten me really curious, and now I’m ready to take a critical eye to my costume¬†wardrobe.

Which costume (or costume styles) “make” your performances?


One thought on “Can a costume make–or break–a performance?

  1. I’ve definitely looked back on performances and thought to myself, “Wow, that was a poor costume choice.” So I can’ totally relate. I know for a fact that costumes can make or break my performances. I have a very small frame, and I have to use my costume to create the curves I naturally lack. I’ve started installing bra cups inside bras (sometimes even two additional bra cups) so my chest appears to be a small B. I also buy skirts/pants/belts that have a lot of ruffles, strategically placed tassels, or are made of a really luscious fabric so that my hips look a bit bigger and the costumes catches my movements. Some people think all my padding and primping is a symptom of low self esteem, or they think it’s superficial, but it’s just a practical measure to me. If I put all this work into my dancing, I want people to be able to see it! I also compliment all this costuming with a technique regimen in which I purposefully exaggerate my movements so that they can be seen from a distance. It’s a lot of extra work and takes a lot of flexibility, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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