Getting a Leg Up On Costuming

I recently viewed some wonderful photos of bellydancers performing at the Rakkasah West Festival (on, a great online belly dance magazine).  The costuming was beautiful and I was happy to see so many outfits in my favorite costume styles of cabaret, Turkish, and Egyptian.  The photos reminded me of something I’ve always noticed about belly dance costumes, something that has caused me to adjust my costume styling accordingly.  What I’ve noticed over the years is that when a belly dance costume shows too much of a dancers’ legs, it changes the whole look of her dance.

Unlike ballet where the legs and feet are the main focus of the dance, bellydancing is focused in the hips and torso.  When a dancer is wearing harem pants or a closed skirt (either no legs slits or the skirt draped to cover the leg slits) the observer’s eye is drawn to the right places – the hips and torso.  If you view two bellydancers, both dancing the same exact choreography, but one with too much leg exposure and the other with the legs more concealed, it almost looks like two completely different dances.  Perhaps we’re so conditioned by ballet that we automatically look at a dancers’ legs when they’re visible.  Of course, bellydancing is all about personal preference, but if you prefer to highlight the signature moves of bellydance, you’ll want the focus on your hips and torso.

It’s a similar situation when too much cleavage is showing.  The audience’s eye usually goes to the dancer’s anatomy, not so much to the movement.  That’s fine if a performance is simply meant to be eye-candy, but if you want the emphasis to be on your belly dancing skills, too much cleavage can be a big distraction.

I’m not a prude about the human body, and if it looked better to bellydance in a bikini, I would.  However, bellydancers spend years trying to perfect the moves and techniques of this incredible art form.  By wearing the right costuming a bellydancer insures that the focus is on the most important moving parts.



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