Costume designing as a separate art of dance | Daily News

Costume designing as a separate art of dance

Costume designing is a unique art in any dance form if it is a classical dance or a folk dance or a creative dance form, or a fusion dance. However, the traditional dance forms and folk dance forms have their own limited definitions and designed basic costumes. Similarly, each folk dance costume also has its own pattern. However, in the present era, whether folk dance costumes or traditional dance costumes, all are subjected to some sort of modifications.

The role of costume designing is important in all dance forms all over the world.

Whatever it is, the costume designer adopts different methods to modify the basic structure, of the original pattern of the selective traditional, and folk dance costumes. Mainly the imaginative creativity of the tailors is praiseworthy, because actually as compared to the teachers, the expert costume tailors modify the basic costumes, and add more aesthetic value to the present dance costumes.

Dance costume patterns

In addition, sometimes according to different ideas, and different opinions of different individual dance teachers the dance costume patterns also vary. Sometimes due to the imaginative creativity of the dance costume, tailors also play an important role in costume designing.

Earlier one or two designed costume patterns were dominating the entire Bharatha Natyam scene, but now in this present era, there are plenty of beautiful nice costume patterns available. Srimathi Rukmani Devi and E. Krishna Iyer were fully responsible for designing the basic structure of the present Bharatha Natyam costumes, which they gathered the ideas from the temple dance sculptures. With time, the present-day Bharatha Natyam exponent Dr Padma Subramanian who did a considerable amount of research work on the temple sculptures, and gathered more ideas and modified the basic structure of the Bharatha Natyam costumes. Hence, out of the temple dance sculptures only, the researchers try to modify the basic Bharatha Natyam costumes. Yet we must realize that it is impossible to design the dance costumes, in the same way as those of the Temple dance sculptures. Nevertheless, practically while designing the costumes one cannot expect the same pattern of the temple sculptural dancing idols. Costumes selection, selection of colour combinations, and different patterns of costumes differ from one another. Commonly the children below a particular age need not wear shawls for the dance costumes. These very young dancers generally wear beautifully designed jackets instead of wearing shawls.  Presently the dancers use the whole saree for the costume stitching. However, a few decades back, a different combination of colours was selected and used for costume stitching, mainly for the shawl, light transparent materials were selected. But now the headpiece or the sari piece with border is used for the shawls.


Some costumes have straight pleats, or sometimes the dancers wear slant pleats from left to right or vice versa. Sometimes the dancers wear a skirt with front pleats; sometimes, the dancers prefer to wear costumes with more pleats covering overlap each other in three or four layers. Some female artistes often wear short saris.

Even now, the pyjama costumes are quite common in the classical Bharatha Natyam field. Now sun pyjama costumes are very popular among the present generation dancers. Male dancers’ upper body is bare or covered only with ornaments or with glittering side shawl. The female dancers dance for some special selective items. For some special dance items, specially designed costumes are selected and used.

Similarly, to portray certain incarnations of Gods, and some different characters in dance different colour costumes, and patterns are adopted for the needs and the necessity of the scenes in the classical dances, dance dramas and folk dance forms.

Nowadays, for fusion dance, modern dance, creative dance, and for some folk dances, specially designed costumes are used. These patterns are selected mainly according to the dancers’ wish, and sometimes according to the specialized costume designers’ suggestions. Hence, in the present dance programs, costume designing plays an important role in stagecraft.