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Dance Costumes

Both Bharatanatyam and folk dances require specific costumes that aren't readily available in the U.S. Having helped many dancers obtain the practice clothing, dance costumes, costume jewellery, and other accessories they need, we can provide our experience to help you.

This page explains how we can help you with Bharatanatyam costumes for performances or practice, as well as how you can purchase or rent folk dance costumes through us. If you have any questions, or if we can be of assistance, please contact us.

Bharatanatyam Costumes

Bharatanatyam costumes for performances can be elaborate, and getting a full costume, making sure it fits properly, and learning how to wear it, can be daunting at first. Also for Bharatanatyam, specific practice clothing is recommended.

Performance Costumes

In Bharatanatyam, the female dancers wear full costumes and jewellery, while male dancers get by with dhotis and limited jewellery. Obtaining a dhoti is not difficult. We mostly help female dancers get costumes, and help both male and female dancers get costume jewellery.

A female Bharatanatyam costume consists of a number of pieces, designed to look like the dancer is wearing a sari in a special way. Typically, there is a single piece from the waist down, which could be in the form of a skirt or a dhoti. There is a blouse piece for the torso, and a wrap that covers the blouse. Then there are optional decorative pieces, such as back pieces, fans, and pleats.

In addition to the clothing, there is specific jewellery for Bharatanatyam, called temple jewellery. It consists of the headset, earset, necklaces, and waist belt, some of which can have many individual pieces. Bangles and anklets with bells complete the ensemble. For men, the jewellery does not include the headset. The earset is simple, usually just stud earrings, and the necklaces are also less ornate.

Bharatanatyam costumes are tailored to fit individual dancers. By the time dancers reach their arangetram, they usually own their own costumes. We can help you select an appropriate style of costume and get it made.

The cost of a costume varies widely, as there are many styles and levels of decoration to consider, not to mention currency exchange rates. As an approximate range, you can expect the clothing part of the costume to be $200 or more, and the jewellery to be at least $200 (that's for completely fake costume jewellery). The jewellery for male dancers is less in quantity and cost, the low end being around $100.

For beginners, we do have a few costumes that can be rented, provided they fit with only minor adjustments.

For little girls who usually dance in skirts and blouses, we do have costumes for rent. The fee is $20 and up, depending on the costume. Most of this cost is for the dry cleaning. The fit is not critical with these costumes. It makes sense to rent costumes at this stage, rather than buy them, because children outgrow them so fast, and they can be pricey.

Practice Clothing

The recommended attire for Bharatanatyam classes and practice sessions is a half-sari for women, and a dhoti for men. The half-sari is worn over pyjamas (loose fitting lightweight pants) and a blouse. If you already wear saris, you probably have cotton blouses that would be fine for this purpose. And if you wear Indian clothing like a salwar-kameez, you have pyjamas that would also work. Men can wear t-shirts with dhotis for practice.

We usually keep a number of half-saris on hand for our students who need help getting them. Half-saris come in one size, which fits all. The blouses and pyjamas worn under the half-sari are usually tailored to fit each person. We keep a small stock of blouses and pyjamas in a few sizes, that can be adjusted to fit. Since these are for practice only, they don't need to fit perfectly, just comfortably. Altering them is a simple do-it-yourself job.

If you need any of these items, the costs are:

Folk Dance Costumes

Costumes and jewellery are needed for folk dance performances, but there is no need for special clothing for practicing these dances. Since folk dances are regional, there are different costumes for different styles of dance. Often, costumes can be adapted with accessories to work for various folk dances. Many of the vocational folk dances require props, like the baskets for Supdu and the tampers for Tippani.

Depending on how often you'll use the costumes, if you're able to store them, and whether you want to deal with cleaning them between uses, you can choose between owning or renting the costumes. In either case, our experience with traditional dances and costumes can help you select or design the right costumes for folk dances.

With extensive knowledge of traditional Indian folk dances, and many years of performing experience, Paulomi Pandit offers expert guidance to achieve an authentic folk dance presentation. A native of Gujarat, she specializes in Gujarati and Rajasthani folk dance styles, and their variations within specific communities in these regions. In many aspects of the dance, like choreography, costumes, and music, it's the subtleties and nuances that distinguish an authentic performance from an average one.

Purchasing Folk Dance Costumes

There is a wide range of styles and color combinations in folk dance costumes, depending on the dance form, and the jewellery, accesories, and props involved. It can be a challenge to sort through all the choices. If possible, selecting costume designs that are easily adaptable to a number of dances can save money. We're available to help you through the different steps in the process.

  1. Designing: This is best accomplished by meeting in person to discuss your needs and preferences, and how the can be addressed. To arrange a consultation, please contact Paulomi. Expect to spend about an hour, or maybe a little longer, to work out all the details. The fee for this consultation is $100. It is reduced to $50 if you obtain the costumes through us.
  2. Ordering: Prices start around $35 per costume, but vary significantly due to all the choices. A deposit of 50% is required to place the order. Keep in mind that the costumes come from India, and should be ordered at least a month advance. If you need a specific feature that may not be readily available, or if you need a large number of identical costumes, additional time may be required to have them made.
  3. Receiving: When you pick up the costumes from us, you can inspect them for any problems or discrepancies. We take responsibility for delivering the costumes as agreed, and on time. If they are defective, or late, you need not accept them and your deposit will be refunded. If the costumes are satisfactory, then the remaining charges are due on pickup. Once costumes leave our possession, no returns are accepted.

Renting Folk Dance Costumes

We have a selection of various folk dance costumes available for rent. The list below indicates how many of each are available.

Our rental fees reflect the costs of different costumes and getting them cleaned after use. They are higher for fancier costumes with more embroidery and decoration; these are more expensive to dry clean. Fees range from $10 to $25 per costume. There is a $10 deposit per costume, which is refundable when the costume is returned undamaged.

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