So, your belly dance school has a troupe which is ready to perform.

Anything goes!

At first, you think the most challenging part of running a troupe is teaching the choreography and getting the students to work together – but that's only the beginning!

One thing that can cause needless conflict in a troupe is costume. Belly dance costumes are not cheap! Tastes differ, too, and students may be reluctant to pay for a costume you specify, in a colour they don't like and will never want to wear again.

There are ways to achieve a coherent look without straining your students' bank balance or frustrating their personal taste.

  1. "Neutral" Bedleh: Specify a bra and belt in black, white, silver or gold, and allow each student to add a skirt and accessories in any style and color. This is a great option, because students can create new costumes for later shows, simply by making s kirts in a different color and/or style.
  2. Same Design, Different Colors: Specify a costume design but allow each student to choose their own favorite color. This gives the most uniform look, but there's no latitude for students to modify the design to suit different body shapes. You will need to find a supplier with the same costume in several colors, or be able to offer a dressmaker who can make them to order. Allowing students to source their own costume, even if you provide them with a sketch, will inevitably result in wide variations.
  3. Same Color, Different Designs. Choose a color. Students can choose their own costume design, so long as it is in the designated color. Be specific about the color – there are many shades of blue, for instance. The best way to ensure consistency is to hand out fabric swatches. You could take this a step further and specify a fabric - you could even purchase the fabric in bulk and distribute to your students.
  4. Anything Goes, Matching Trim. Choose luxury trimmings ( beaded trim, sequins, fringe) and allow students to choose their own fabric and design, so long as it is embellished with the same trims. This can be the most risky, because you can't be sure students will match the design properly with the trim in good taste!

Who Should Own the Costumes?

In some belly dance schools, the school director makes or purchases a supply of costumes in a variety of sizes, and hires them to troupe members for shows. If you choose this option, consider

  • how you will store quantities of costumes;
  • how much you will charge;
  • whether you'll require a deposit;
  • who will clean the costumes after use - you or the student?;
  • whether you will charge for damage.

In many troupes, each troupe member makes or buys her own costume, and owns it. If the member leaves, then she gets to keep her costume. This is an easier option to administer - but consider, if you've chosen to costume the whole troupe in identical outfits, will you be able to source another exactly matching costume if you get a new troupe member?