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  1. #1
    I could get used to this! Candide's Avatar
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    History of Cover-Ups

    Hello, all!

    I have googled myself into a stupor, and cannot find any information about the history of wearing a caftan or cover-up over your costume when not performing. Can anyone enlighten me as to when dancers started doing this? Or whether dancers of other styles (flamenco, ballet, or anything else) do it, too?

    Any help would be MUCH appreciated! Thanks!


  2. #2
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Candide View Post
    I have googled myself into a stupor, and cannot find any information about the history of wearing a caftan or cover-up over your costume when not performing. Can anyone enlighten me as to when dancers started doing this? Or whether dancers of other styles (flamenco, ballet, or anything else) do it, too?
    I don't think you see a ballet dancer mingling with the audience in her tutu! I had a theatre and modern jazz background prior to taking up belly dance - we would NEVER be seen by any audience member in costume or makeup. It is just plain unprofessional (even for amateurs). For some reason many belly dancers do meet audience members - as a compromise (I assume) they often wear non-performance clothing. However, unless they had a gig immediately after the current one all professional belly dancers I have talked with after their current gig appeared in civvies - not a cover-up.


  3. #3
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    My multiple readings of Noel Streatfeild's "Ballet Shoes" and other old-school theatre story books when I was a child taught me that in theatre it certainly used to be compulsory for performers to wear a wrapper over their costumes even when backstage, and it makes sense because in those contexts you don't even own the costume, the company/theatre does, and it needs to be kept clean.

    You simply do not see people in costume walking around among the audience in any context, unless doing so is part of the show. Belly dancers are/used to be considered scantily clad; if you were a dancer in the 50s/60s in the US, there is no way you would have been considered suitably dressed to BE in a club if you were just walking round in your bedleh and skirt. I don't feel comfortable standing around talking to strangers in my costume. I'd never go out with my belly out IRL.


  4. #4
    I could get used to this! Aslahan's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    I can't comment on the history of it, but it does seem to be common to any style of dance or other costumed performance where there isn't a connected "backstage" environment - I don't think ballet dancers, for example, run into this too often; they can go backstage, change, and appear on stage without being exposed to "civilians". At showcase events I sometimes find myself changing elsewhere in the building, then walking down halls and waiting just outside auditoriums where people are coming and going. I wear a cover-up for this, and if it's a variety-type show with other types of dancers (or jugglers or mimes or anyone else in a costume) I usually see them wear a wrap of some sort as well.
    Aslahan - Passionate about Turkish Oryantal | www.aslahan.com | Aslahan's blog


  5. #5
    Official BHUZzer Kat144's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    I guess I'd see it in part as a "preserving the mystery" thing? Is it Shira's site that talks about that?


  6. #6
    Ultimate BHUZzer tahiradancer's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    To build a little on Zumurrad's post, most of the time in other theatrical disciplines, you have a different set of clothing which you wear to do your hair and make up. I know for many this is an over sized shirt. Then if you are only on stage for a short time, you change out of your costume and back into the shirt until it's time to either go back on or to do your curtain call. This does two things - allows a potentially sweaty costume to air out, and reduces any chance of the costume being damaged while you wait.

    And Kat, I think that there is a grain of truth in preserving the mystery. Especially when you are dancing in a event such as a showcase or "stage" show. Community haflas have a different set of rules. The first Raqs B I attended I was shocked to see women running around the entire vent in costume. When asked, their opinion was that this was the only chance they had to wear their costumes, so why not?

    {{{HUGS}}}


  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by tahiradancer View Post
    To build a little on Zumurrad's post, most of the time in other theatrical disciplines, you have a different set of clothing which you wear to do your hair and make up. I know for many this is an over sized shirt. Then if you are only on stage for a short time, you change out of your costume and back into the shirt until it's time to either go back on or to do your curtain call. This does two things - allows a potentially sweaty costume to air out, and reduces any chance of the costume being damaged while you wait......
    and it saves the costume crew from having to clean your food off it (no eating in costume for the 500th time!!!), or fix the tears you put in it because you had to get dressed an hour before your scene and had to pee, or replace it because you lost it. T_T ..c::

    ^_^ better now. over sized button up/zip up shirts are great because you can fit them over your costume and the zip/button front allows them to close and protect it, but also for them to be removed without mussing your hair&makeup
    for coverups, i think of it as "taking backstage with me" since we often don't have the luxury of a dressing room and real stage. otherwise i would end up(and used to) thinking of it as i needed to cover because there was something to hide or the costume was inappropriately revealing (which it would be for the office or grocery store, but if everyone knows in the bellydancer and i'm still technically performing when i interact with them... i dunno, Jasmine-impersonators walk around disney theme parks without a cover up and no one thinks it's inappropriate since she's performing her character. i guess the important part is that our performance is the dance and meet-and-greets are different.) i've gotten used to thinking of it as my backstage on my back and the importance of saving the costume for that wow entrance, although i confess that in very casual environments i need to be more mindful of putting it back on after performing.
    i remember an article called "where have all the cover ups gone?" i don't remember if it was on Shira's site or gilded serpent, or somewhere else. it might give you some leads as to the history.
    Last edited by raqFariha; 11-16-2010 at 04:16 PM.
    "there is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everyone a great deal of good" -Edwin Denby


  8. #8
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Belly dance venues tend to be more informal than ballet ones, and with fewer support staff ;) If a dancer is doing more than one set in the evening, and there's no comfortable dressing room, then a coverup allows her to sit in a corner and drink a lemonade, arrange her props, set up her music, greet admirers, etc without disclosing or endangering her costume or attracting too much attention to herself.

    That said, belly dancers sometimes are rabidly determined to show off their bodies all the time, and not all of them are young. They don't want to hear that showing off off-stage may destroy a venue for other dancers because customers complained about them running all over a festival in their bra or striding through the buffet area with their coverup flapping open.

    I'm trying to remember if I've ever SEEN a tribal dancer in a coverup.

    Anyway, the teachers and organizers really do have to be rabid in return; I suspect that many a ballet student would gladly run around in her costume if the teachers hadn't made it a Maxim. About ten years ago young dancers at irish feis started running around in the lobbies and eating areas in their hair curlers, sports bras and their bloomers in between their competitions happily showing off their healthy young bodies and bringing the professional and artistic tone of the feis down about ten notches. The national association had to put the official kabash on this practice because otherwise the girls simply were not going to stop.

    So any history of coverups needs to include the fact that a sizable portion of the dancer population doesn't really want to wear one :) IMO


  9. #9
    I could get used to this! Aslahan's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    I have some friends here who organize an all-levels-all-styles showcase a few times a year. They've made it clear that coverups are NOT optional - therefore I've seen several tribal dancers in them. They range from silk kimono-style robes to gorgeous Turkish coats...

    I think it's great that the organizers enforce this, because it's made a lot of newer dancers realize that a) it shows respect for whoever is currently onstage b) it makes them look more professional and c) they really do get the "wow" factor when their costumes are finally revealed...
    Aslahan - Passionate about Turkish Oryantal | www.aslahan.com | Aslahan's blog


  10. #10
    Advanced BHUZzer poohbear's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    When I was younger and dancing all the other dance forms (ballet, jazz, modern, etc) we never "mingled" with the audience in costume. With bellydance I have been taught that you ALWAYS cover up if you are not performing. It helps keep the mystery of what your costume looks like, and helpos protect it. Also. I participate in showcases and student shows and the restaurants do not have the capacity for lots of dancers to change at once. It is required we show up dressed and in make-up but have the option of changing after we perform. I have stood by this standard when I did tribal and knwo when I do egyptian, melaya leff, etc. Personally I think it's tacky for a dancer to sit with the audience, drink and eat in costume without the cover-up.


  11. #11
    Official BHUZzer crimson vision's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by maurazebra View Post
    I'm trying to remember if I've ever SEEN a tribal dancer in a coverup.
    Whole bunch of Tribal Dancers all in cover ups before a performance (that's me from the back with the sythian unicorns on my coat; all of which were hand embroidered for me by a friend! I LOVE my cover up!):


    Our troupe leader made it very clear the importance of one to those who didn't already know it.
    Last edited by crimson vision; 11-17-2010 at 02:59 PM.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by crimson vision View Post
    Whole bunch of Tribal Dancers all in cover ups before a performance (that's me from the back with the sythian unicorns on my coat; all of which were hand embroidered for me by a friend! I LOVE my cover up!):


    Our troupe leader made it very clear the importance of one to those who didn't already know it.
    aww, beautemous!


  13. #13
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    By the time I started dancing in the 1980's, cover-ups were already a well-established thing to do.

    Back then, the notion of sitting around in the cover-up really didn't exist. At least, not in the cities where I lived and danced. For one thing, we didn't have haflas/shows in which the performers would sit in the audience in their cover-ups watching everyone else.

    Instead, cover-ups were something you wore when you were en route to a gig. Delivering a bellygram? Wear your cover-up in the car and when walking down the street - don't remove it until it's time to dance. Performing at a city Art & Wine Festival? Wear your cover-up when walking from the changing room to the stage. Performing in a restaurant that doesn't provide a dedicated dressing room for the dancers? Get dressed in the bathroom and then wear the cover-up when traveling from the bathroom to the kitchen to tell them you're ready to dance.

    After performing, we didn't typically sit around in the cover-up. Instead, we CHANGED OUR CLOTHES and put on normal-people clothes until it was time to get ready for the second set. Anybody who has ever sat around in a costume knows that doing so can damage the costume and besides, it's not comfortable.


  14. #14
    Master BHUZzer Qamar60's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by crimson vision View Post
    Whole bunch of Tribal Dancers all in cover ups before a performance (that's me from the back with the sythian unicorns on my coat; all of which were hand embroidered for me by a friend! I LOVE my cover up!):


    Our troupe leader made it very clear the importance of one to those who didn't already know it.
    OMG,


  15. #15
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    [QUOTE=crimson vision;785737]Whole bunch of Tribal Dancers all in cover ups before a performance (that's me from the back with the sythian unicorns on my coat; all of which were hand embroidered for me by a friend! I LOVE my cover up!):
    What a beautiful picture!


  16. #16
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Now I want a proper coat-style coverup like that, even though I don't perform much any more.


  17. #17
    Official BHUZzer coffeegoddess's Avatar
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    Re: History of Cover-Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by crimson vision View Post
    Whole bunch of Tribal Dancers all in cover ups before a performance (that's me from the back with the sythian unicorns on my coat; all of which were hand embroidered for me by a friend! I LOVE my cover up!):

    Our troupe leader made it very clear the importance of one to those who didn't already know it.
    These coats are great! I would love one just to wear for a normal day.


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