Thursday, November 17, 2011

WHAT is she wearing?!....Costuming Do-s and Don't-s....Part 2

The music starts to play and a young woman glides across the dance floor swaying and twirling, enveloped in a swirl of silken veils. The audience is enthralled by the artistry and beauty of the movements and colors as she executes an intricate set of undulations and snaky arm movements. Then as the music changes, the dancer removes the veils covering her rhinestone encrusted costume and briefly dances with the veils, manipulating them with elegance and finesse, making them dance through the air with a life of their own then, she arches into a deep backbend as the  music changes and tosses the veils aside with a flourish as she rises to strike a pose. All of a sudden everyone's eyes are riveted on her chest, whispers are exchanged behind hands, a nervous giggle rises and abruptly stops in the back of the room. Unbeknownst to the dancer, part of her right breast has popped up over the edge of her costume and the audience is getting a glimpse of more than they had expected to see. The next song starts and the dancer just keeps on dancing, playing her zills and shimmying....completely unaware of the incredibly embarrassing costume malfunction that she has become victim to.

I have heard similar stories and warnings of what 'could' happen from friends and teachers alike, the titillating conversations spoken in hushed tones in dressing rooms and during intermission at big shows. I have witnessed a few near disasters myself. I feel terrible for the poor women who have had things like that happen to them. I would imagine it is something you can never truly forget. For those who have had things like this happen, take heart you are NOT alone. For those lucky ladies whom have not had such a horrible experience, or are new to the dance and just is some advice to help you prevent and/or deal with it the best you can. (Part 2 of costuming do-s and don't-s)

2) What is wrong with her top?

    a) First off...and it should go without saying, yet I see these mistakes ALL the time....make sure your top FITS you properly!! Here are some things I have seen that just blow my mind that a woman would go out in public and dance like this.....
            1) Cups that are too big for your breasts....ladies if you put your performance bra on and you do not fill it up and there is empty space between the top of the bra and your chest, it it too big. I call them 'floating cups' looks much to me like a 5 year old little girl trying on her mommies bra.
             There are ways to fix this! You can buy a bra that fits. You can also do what a lot of dancers do and put pads inside the cup (often called cookies) to push your chest up to fill it in. (IF you put pads in....PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE attache them to your bra...I have seen pads slip up and out while someone was performing.)
            2) Bra straps that are too long or slip off your shoulders. Just shorten them or crisscross them behind your back. You should not have to worry about them slipping off while you dance, and constantly reaching up to adjust them is very distracting to your audience. (This goes back to my rule of always trying on your costume and dancing BEFORE wearing it to perform somewhere).
            3) Underboobage! You know what I am talking about don't you? That bit of flesh that flashes under your bra in front....because the bra is too loose around the ribcage. Again, a good fit is really important, while you dance you raise your arms and move around a lot. Make sure you aren't at risk of slipping out the bottom.
            4) Cups that are too small for your the poor young lady in my story above. If you are wearing a bra that barely covers you, you are at risk of popping out the top. If you are dancing at a public event that is family friendly, NO ONE is going to want to see nipples! When you try on a bra, bend forward and backward and do shoulder shimmys and anything else you might do while wearing that bra. If you are in the slightest doubt that you might expose something don't wear it.

What do You think everyone will remember about this Wedding? The beautiful service? The obvious love of the couple? Or the brides overexposed Breasts?

  On the other hand...I know plenty of ladies who wear their bras small and tape themselves to the bra to prevent slippage. You must take into consideration though, the fact that your audience will not know you are taped into your bra and might spend your entire performance on the edge of their seats just waiting for it to happen. If you want them to notice your DANCING then I would suggest covering up a bit more. If you want them to stare at your nearly exposed chest...well, that is your business.
            My personal rule is, my bra cups must cover at least 75% of my chest (I do like cleavage), but if I am going to a community event, outside, and during the day, I cover up even more.

    b) The same rules above for a choli top or gypsy top. Make sure it fits you well and will not slip up or down or sideways and expose your private bits to your audience. You also need to make sure if you are wearing a top instead of a bra, that you have proper support! It is incredibly distracting to see a well endowed lady flopping about inside her shirt while performing. A performance bra (even those worn under other clothing) should be supportive and sturdy.
      I recently witnessed one young lady bust a bra strap while vigorously shimmying her shoulders at an was very obvious because her chest started to move a lot more afterward and she nearly did pop out of the top of her dress. Sure enough it was the one thing EVERYONE remembered most about her performance afterward.

    c) Another common mistake I have seen, make sure that before you wear any top in a performance you have checked the clasps, hooks and other hardware used on it. It should all be tightly and securely attached. One of our 'troupe moms' had a rule she told all us girls...."sew it till you can't see the shine of metal anymore," except the actual hook itself of course. :)
      Here is an example of what can happen......One of my troupe mates several years back had purchased a lovely bra and belt set. When it arrived at her house she tried it on and amazingly the hooks on both pieces were set JUST where she needed them and she did not need to make any adjustments. Sadly, no one in our troupe (including the two teachers) had thought to warn her about sewing everything on tight and securely. The first time she wore the set was at a Workshop where we were representing our teacher by performing the choreography she had taught earlier that day. At one point in the dance we all do a deep forward bend while throwing our hair and rise up rolling our shoulders. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my troupe mate dash off stage, arms clutched around her chest. Evidently as she had bent forward the hook on the back strap had ripped free....and her bra had started to slip off the front of her. Thank goodness she caught it and left the stage with most of her dignity intact and nothing having actually been exposed to the audience. She had safety pinned it, but the safety pins could not handle the pressure of her ribcage and vertebrae as she did the deep bend forward.

    d) One last thing that really just drives me and most professional dancers I ask crazy. The obvious 'Bra bought at the local department store' bra. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a bra locally and turning it into a costume bra, but PLEASE cover it and cover or replace the straps and cover or replace the elastic and make it LOOK like a REAL costume bra, not something you just picked up at a local store an hour before you performance!

So, in conclusion, considering what your top or bra is covering, it is incredibly important to make sure it fits properly and is in proper repair. Put it on, dance while wearing it, check it for loose threads and tears. Ask a friend or teacher if it fits well, or if they have any concerns. Be aware of how you present yourself in what you are wearing.

We all want our dancing to be remembered, not our costuming disasters!

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