My very first costumes were for my daughters Chelsea and Hayley to attend themed Birthday Parties. These costumes always had to be made in a hurry and with no expense. Probably the two aspects of costuming that intrigue me the most. How to change someones appearance without spending money.
I naturally have a Beachcomber nature. This means that when I go to a Fish and Tackle shop, Hardware store, I don't necessarily see the goods for what they were intended. Fishing flys for Trout fishing, are very beautiful to me. They tempt me to buy them. But my problem addiction has to be Fabric Stores.
The costume design will come from the Music which is being choreographed or the fabric you find. The Music will dictate the spirit of the dance moves and the costume design will ideally compliment. I find that my initial concept, often has a life of its own and the finished product is a surprise to me.
A gallery of some of my designs can be found below. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any design enquiries.
(PHOTO LEFT: Dress coat tied with sash / created from four separate scarves sewn together)
1. BLACK TOP (with hand painted faux bolero design) AND BELT SET
NOTES FROM SUEZY ON THIS DESIGN: This was my first large group costume. Each costume was hand painted with fabric paint and then the sequins were placed onto the paint with tweezers.
What I loved most about this costume is that the colour of each skirt was left entirely up to each individual and the vibrant colours were astounding on stage with the black and silver top and belt.
PHOTOS ABOVE: From Art of Bellydance Dance School's 2005 Show
2. BLACK BRA AND HAREM PANTS WITH DANCE COAT
NOTES FROM SUEZY ON THIS DESIGN: The dance coats were tied with a sash and made of four individual scarves each. They were really comfortable to wear and as they were lace they still allowed body movement to be seen.
PHOTOS ABOVE: From Art of Bellydance Dance School's 2005 Show
MORE PHOTOS OF OTHER RECENT DESIGNS CAN BE FOUND BELOW - Check back often!
This costume was made in a panic. I had one week before my performance, in "Dancing the Night Sky". The Music was "Oh Om" by Galactic Caravan.
The Music created an image of a lost Angel. An Angel left behind by her companions. There was initially sadness, loss and fear replaced slowly throughout the Track to eventual elation, joy and power.
I didn't want a cliched image of an Angel. My Angel is flawed and has a lot to learn. The costume had to change as the Music progressed. To see the change, go to my Photo Gallery. I used 8 crocheted scarves in all. I bought them from an Asian shop for $6 each. They were really easy to separate and join together. Sewing the flowers on the bra was a revelation, incredibly fast.
If I ever wore this costume again, I wouldn't wear white undies. I thought that I should make it obvious that I was wearing underpants, just in case the audience spent their time checking. In seeing the photos afterwards, I think next time I would wear skin coloured underwear.
Office Lady costume
This costume was designed and made on a Friday for my performance on the Saturday, as an"Office Lady" in the Show "Strange Lands". The show was a vehicle to celebrate Melissa's Mother, Father and Sister arriving to visit from Canada. All performers had to perform outside their comfort zones, or perform in a way, hitherto not tried by them.
My first choice was far too ambitious and eventually gave me nightmares. With a week till the show, I had to change my concept. As I was always dancing while sitting in my office chair, I decided that this would be my "Strange Land".
The costume came together rapidly, out of necessity. I already had the wig. Have I mentioned before? Wigs are fabulous for completely morphing the performer. They are invaluable in creating the transformation from you, housewife, mother etc - to entertainer, performer. I have five wigs now and cannot recommend them enough.
I had the white shirt with black stripe. I cut the shirt below the bustline. I had the red and black striped, stretch knit fabric left over from the "Dancing the Night Sky" show. I wrapped this around and sewed it tight and figure hugging. Attached it to the shirt, created a small slit at the back. Initially, I had thought the shirt would be unbuttoned to show an ornamented bra, I had already ascertained that shoulder shimmies were going to be a big part of my dance as sitting and dancing, limited my dance options. However, even I thought I looked rather FOXY, so I decided to button up and made the tie from scraps. I borrowed Hayley's shoes, wore some pantyhose and voila, I had my Office Lady.
Below is my Taj costume. I like to dance in the masculine. The difference as a dancer is incredible to experience. The two sexes have such a different foundation to their behaviour and movements. When I am performing in the feminine, I am all softness and I am careful with my posture. My demeanour is giving and loving. When I dance as Taj, I am arrogant, flippant my posture is of no consequence. Rules governing what should and should not be performed, evaporate. It is a huge transition from dancing as a woman. Consequently I love dancing as Taj. I never have a choreography when I dance a Solo, I might have an idea but I generally don't have time to create something. Therefore the appeal of the masculine increases, as I really am free to move with the music.
Taj's costume consists of a cheap $50 pair of low heeled synthetic black boots. A pair of black exercise trousers tucked into the boots. A white man's Galabeya with a scarf tied on the hip. The scarf helps to show shimmies or hip drops. The overcoat was a ladies Galabeya cut through the middle and at the sides, to allow plenty of movement. It also allows me to hide my arms and hands in the back under the coat. The sleeves were cut from the wrist to the elbow at the top of the arm, to allow the sleeve to hang. The most difficult aspect was the headress. I was trying to get the costume ready at 3am the morning of the show and only had white satin. Satin is notoriously slippery and its hard to breathe through. So I will be sourcing a soft cotton that ties well. The Galabeya's, including shipping were US$84. You could easily make a white slip instead of buying the white Galabeya but I think the Black one with the embellishment was well worth the money.
I went to a show a year ago and was really impressed with a large group of women who performed in various costumes to suit their body shapes and also obviously to suit their taste BUT they had all used the same fabric. The above performance is the first time I have tried this concept myself. Would I suggest it again to my dancers? Yes but I would be more careful with my choice of fabric. The above fabric, as you can see is very beautiful but it tended to pucker at the seams and didn't have the stretch to create a really good figure hugging dress. The advantage! All these dresses could be worn out to other occasions. Happy sewing!