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Costuming – not the final thought in routine planning

Over the years I have been involved with many forms of dance as a performer, teacher and an audience member. Consider your performance as a complete concept – theme, music, dance and costume should all be part of the creative process. Costume should be part of what you do, not an added extra that gets thought of in the last week.


Here are my top tips for both new and frequent performers to the stage:

  1. There are more colours in the rainbow than black

  2. Black is not the only sexy/moody colour see above

  3. What you wear in class is not always appropriate costume for performance. People have often paid money to come to see you perform – make an effort

  4. Practice in what you are going to wear – get someone to check from all angles that things that shouldn’t be seen aren’t (no one wants a lip slip). How does it move about when you move? Should you consider tape and/or pasties?

  5. If you know the venue think about the space – how big is the stage, how close is the audience, what is the back ground of the venue. You want to stand out not fade into the background

  6. Decorating your costume helps it to show up but also helps enhance your movement. Diamantes/sequins rhinestones or whatever don’t have to be contrasting colours to fabric they can be the same and just catch the light when you move

  7. Contemporary doesn’t have to mean plain

  8. If you are taking off an item plan it as part of the performance, how long does it take, how can you make it interesting, what are you going to do with it once its/ removed? What if it doesn’t come off properly is there a plan B?

  9. The audience sees your back a lot of the time think about how to make that a feature as well

  10. Where do you need grip? Can different parts of you be covered/uncovered in different ways. Sleeves can still be used even if grip is required – elbows and underarms etc can be cut outs

  11. Manufacturers tags inside garments if they are visible from the outside cut them off

  12. Find the allure and sex appeal in creative and interesting styling of fabric on the body. Sexy can be a lot more than butt cheeks

  13. If you are wearing shoes or other accessories; do they add to overall look, are the colours right. Don’t just wear a pair of shoes cos they are the favourites. Remember you must work your feet a lot more if you have any footwear on as eyes are drawn to them more. Shoes are heavier and can pull your feet into odd angles if you don’t think about them all the time

  14. Tan, make up and hair all add to the final product. Stage lighting can make you look very pale. Make up and hair help to create your character and illusion consider how these will be done before the performance day so you are not panicking.

  15. Nude underwear is ALWAYS a useful investment

  16. And remember, picking out a wedgie on stage (unless comically styled as part of the routine) is never a good look.


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