Monday, April 8, 2013

Costuming for Every Body Type Part 2: Voluptuous Vixens

I have two beautiful dancers to be our voluptuous role models. Both DC area dancers, Suzana and Miasia always look and dance beautifully! If you have been lucky enough to see them dance you know what I mean. 

Miasia's costuming tip:

Research, research, research: Try on as many costumes as you can to find out what colors and design elements look good on you. Don't settle for a costume you don't like just because it's the only one in stock which will fit you. Figure out your dream costume and have that made for you. Or if you find a costume which you love, but doesn't fit just right, find (or become) a good seamstress and have it tailored to your body.


Don't wear a tent! The worst thing a plus size dancer (or any dancer) can do is hide under a baggy dress or a pile of fringe and fifty skirts. 

Avoid costumes that create horizontal lines. This is why I am rarely a fan of bedlahs on voluptuous ladies, a basic belt with fringe creates a unflattering band that makes the biggest part of your body look even bigger. It also cuts you in half, breaking the long feminine curvy lines that your body has.

Dont wear bras that dont fit. Finding bras for plus size busts can be hard and frustrating but its much better to spend time, energy, and money on something that is the right size than to try to make sometime tiny work for you. Having a bra that really fits not only looks better but will be more secure and give you lots of confidence. We are lucky to have a lot of custom costume designers in the US that make custom plus size costumes. Links to them are below. 


Wear costumes that highlight your assets and minimize the parts you are self conscious about. 

Find costumes that create an interesting and flattering shape. Things like mermaid skirts, unique sleeves, fabric or beading with slender vertical designs, and embellishment focused around the bra and hips help to create and accentuate a beautiful hourglass figure.

If you like two piece costumes go for a more form fitting skirt with sleek embellishment on the hips and bra. If you like belly covers try getting one that matches the darkest color that appears on your costume. This will again help to create an hourglass shape. For example, if you have a costume that is bright pink with black accents wear a black belly cover. Its also a very cool retro-style throw back.

If you feel self-conscious about your arms or upper body incorporate a matching tie on gypsy top into your ensemble. 

And as always, be confident in our own skin. Its easier said than done but its important to remember that there is unique beauty in each body and how it moves. Belly dance is so interesting to watch on different people because every move looks different on each body, its like watching a new dance every time. Find those movements and costumes that make you feel incredible and your body will turn into a work of art. 

Our beautiful models:

A few great designers/companies that cater to plus size dancers:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Costuming for every body type: Part 1

When you ask a dancer what their favorite things about belly dance are, one of the first responses is almost always 'THE COSTUMES!'. Its true, the costuming helps to transform us into something else, into that fantasy of what we think a belly dancer should be. Costumes give us confidence, showcase our movement, and excite the imagination of the audience.

Another thing many dancers will tell you is that our art embraces all types of people. All shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds can find happiness and beauty in this dance. This is also true, but in our modern culture that pushes impossible physical ideals I think its hard for women to truly feel great about their bodies. Embracing your body and feeling great in your own skin is a very important part of this dance so I wanted to give some inspiration to show that everyone can be the gorgeous belly dancer that they dream of being as well as tips on how to get there with your costuming!

Slender Sirens

Our tall and slender costume role model is Naimah of Baltimore. She is a tribal fusion dancer who makes most of her costumes by hand.

Naimah's costuming tip: For tribal costuming rivets, turkoman buttons, 2 inch and 3inch metal rings are essential things to have in your costume kit. Let sequin appliques also be your friend. I typically comb thrift stores and magazines for ideas.

A famous slender dancer with great costumes, check her out on youtube: Didem (Turkey)

Shahrzad's Do's and Dont's

Dont! Wear simple straight fitting costumes. They take away from your figure instead of accentuating its natural beauty. Its also easy for movements to get lost when the costume isnt helping.

Do! Wear costumes that have lots of embellishment, fabric, or fringe around the hips and chest.  Another idea is to use some large necklaces, a vest, or a tie on top around your bra. Veils draped around the hips can also look cool. Bringing lots of attention to these ares will showcase your movement.

Dont! Wear skirts that are too short. Your body makes a beautiful long line, wearing a skirt that is too short can cut the line and make it look very awkward.

Do! Go for skirts or pants that have a lot of movement and shape. Ruffles, layers, gathers, tassels, lacing... Having long legs gives you the freedom to really go crazy when it comes to bottoms.

 Top-abundant Beauties

Our top-abundant or 'apple shaped' costume role model is Magdelena of Dallas. She is an Oriental dancer who is great at altering her costumes from Egypt and Turkey to fit her figure.

Magdelena's costuming tip: For the uber busty the main thing is to have a great fitting bra with appropriate lift & cup angle. I have seen a lot of busty dancers in bra's that make them look a tad saggy and that is never a good look.
Adding back straps from the halter strap to the band takes the pressure off the neck & adds lift - so does having the cross back straps.

A famous top abundant dancer with great costumes, check her out on youtube: Maria Shashkova (Russia)

Shahrzad's Do's and Dont's

Dont! Bring all of the attention to your chest. Its important to bring equal attention to every part of your figure to create a well rounded look. 

Do! Wear costumes that have a lot of embellishment and excitement around the hips. Full skirts, harem pants, and skirts with beading all the way down look great and create a more balanced body line. 

Dont! Buy a bra that is too small and try to alter it to fit you. And on the flip side, dont buy a bra that is way too big and completely covers you up. 

Do! Take the time and effort to find something that really fits you well and creates a look you are happy with. Feeling comfortable and supported is very important when you are dancing. Wearing something that doesn't fit quite right will always be a bit nerve-racking.

Hourglass Hotties

Our hourglass costume role model is Khalima of Richmond. She is a versitile dancer who mixes cabaret and tribal costuming to make extremely creative and unique ensembles.


Khalima's costuming tip: I like to go big and bold, be it in color or pattern, or in the literal size of a hairpiece or hip accoutrement. It's all about turning yourself up to 11!

A famous hourglass dancer with great costumes, check her out on youtube: Dina (Egypt)

Shahrzad's Do's and Dont's

Dont! Over do it with costuming. Interest on the chest and hips is fine but dont feel like you have to go overboard with piling on the fringe and veils. With a curvaceous figure sometimes less is more.    

Do! Wear costumes that equally accent your chest and hips and hug your curves. The hourglass figure works well for some of the really simple and modern designs so dont be shy about trying something thats new and different.  

Dont! Wear costumes that are too high cut on the hips or baggy around the waist and legs, they will alter the way the shape of your body looks and take away from your natural curves.

Do! Show off your curves. Wear fitted costumes that showcase your figure. I highly suggest fitted skirts and pants that hug the hips and flare at the bottom. Straps or belly chains also look great and exaggerate the hourglass effect even more.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for part 2 which will cover petite, voluptuous, and pear shaped body types.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The importance of Folklore

I feel very lucky to have started learning folkloric styles of dance very early on in my belly dance training. Habiba of Philadelphia, who was one of my first teachers, was the first person to expose me to North African folkloric dances. She was also the one who encouraged me to take with many Reda and Kowmeya troupe members who ended up being my main teachers (and still are). I feel that all of the folkloric training I received helped not only my overall technique but my understanding of the music and feeling of the dance.

Folklore and regional styles continue to be my main passion. Behind every dance lies a story that is rich with tradition and culture. Every time I delve into a new style I feel so rejuvenated, as if I have gone back to being a complete beginner.

No matter what style of dance you practice it is always important to remember that tradition is a guide, not a jailor. Studying the history of the dance you practice will only make you a stronger and more well-rounded artist. And who knows, you might find something that really inspires you.

Habiba is an American bellydance treasure. She is a renowned instructor, performer, and one of the most interesting people have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You can read all about her on her site, I feel like anything I say wont do her justice.

Here is a short video of Habiba and a link to her articles on dance, I highly recommend checking them out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some Youtube-tastic finds

Here are two songs that are very popular in Egypt right now. I had found both of them at the beginning of this year but only recently came across the music videos on youtube. I was excited to see Dina in both of them and shes even sporting some fantastic Sahar Okasha dresses!

Beshwesh Aleya

Mia Mia

Shopping? Yes please.

LINK TIME! Who doesn't love shopping (or at least wasting time drooling over stuff) on the interwebs?!?

Love belly chains? I sure do! This lady sells beautiful belly chains that are custom sized. She also has a ton of other awesome body jewelry. Check out her Ebay store at Beautiful Stuff Jewelry!

I absolutely love the designs from this company. They do a lot of belly dance pants, tops, and skirts along with some pretty cool every day clothes. Its a bit pricey but the quality of the fabric and workmanship is very high. Get ready to covet the designs of Phoenix Rising Artists.

These next two links are for all of the DIY costume lovers. Check out the links and make sure to stop by if you are ever in NYC, you will be in a world of glitter.

Beautiful trims of all shapes and sizes including some of the best rhinestone stuff ever. M&J Trimming 
Every kind of spandex including some really amazing stretchy sequin fabric. Spandex House

And, last but not least, this might not be strictly belly dance related... wait, what am I talking about, belly dancers love over the top shit thats covered in rhinestones! If you want to splurge on some ridiculous jewelry, this is the place. I give you: Tarina Tarantino.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting started

Im excited to be starting this new project. It should only take me a few days to get everything going so stay tuned for lots of awesome belly dance stuff!