Art and literature are the soul of any culture and civilization. These are extremely important and contribute towards taking a country and its culture forward. Art keeps the humility, responsibility, and emotions alive in a society and keeps it from straying away from the path of social and moral righteousness. It also is a way to stay connected and aware of one’s history, roots, and cultural identity.
Dance is one of the most significant and celebrated sections of art that is as enjoyable as disciplined, and as vivid as systematic. All these qualities when combined with the spiritual and historical implications render it the grandeur that it has.
The dance costume or dress code is one of the major parts or aspects that render grace, grandeur, and elegance that is effortlessly exhibited while dancing, especially in the case of Indian classical dance forms.
One might wonder, why a piece of attire or a set of costumes holds so much importance in learning or performing a dance. Interestingly the answer to this question is not as linear or simple as it may appear. There is not one but many noteworthy reasons that support the significance of dress code in dance.
So, here we have enlisted the major factors that establish the importance of maintaining a specific dress code in dance.
Reasons dress code is an integral part of dance
Comfort and Safety
The primary role that dress code plays while dancing is rendering comfort to the performer while dancing. A dance costume is designed in a way that allows a dancer to make the movements without feeling uncomfortable or restricted, which would not be possible with casual dressing.
A dance costume also ensures the safety of the performer while practicing the dance form, as casual clothes might compromise the safety of an individual by hindering the movements or getting stuck somewhere, leading the dancers to fall or face accidents.
Another reason that makes dress code requisite while dancing is the requirement to maintain modesty, especially while performing classical dance forms. Wearing casual attire can lead to wardrobe malfunctions and may end up making the dance look extremely casual or inappropriate. These situations can tarnish the grace and sophistication associated with the dance form.
Apart from looking elegant and graceful, the dress or costume that you wear while dancing should be practical to make the facial and bodily expressions convenient and smooth. That is why dance dress codes are designed in a way that balances presentability and practicality, which would not be possible to attain with any other dress or attire.
Indian Classical Dance is an art form that is regarded with respect and spirituality, therefore, it is mandatory to wear the right costume while performing it. It is a way of showing respect and consideration towards the dance form. Moreover, performing classical dance without donning the right wearables is considered a violation of its dignity and grace, and hence is discouraged by the veterans, gurus, and cultural institutions.
One of the most significant reasons that make having a specific costume essential while performing a dance form, especially, in groups is to create a wholesome, unified, and appealing aesthetic cohesion. Imagine if all the dancers were wearing their own different costumes while performing Kathak, how it is going to look.
Therefore it is important for all the dancers to not only perform in synchronization and harmony but also to look synchronized and coordinated to make their performance optimally aesthetic and pleasing to the eyes.
Cultural implications and annotations
The last but the most important argument to support the necessity of a dress code while dancing is the cultural value and significance that clothes, including the ‘Aabhushan’ and ‘Shringar’ hold, especially when associated with art. You can not perform a classical dance while wearing Western attire because it would not justify or satisfy the cultural implications. In fact, all the parts of a classical dance costume hold their own implications, significance, and cultural annotations.
Therefore, to feel connected to the roots while doing classical dance, it is important that you wear the right traditional attire.
All in all, the reasons listed above come together to establish the importance and relevance of abiding by the suggested dress code while practicing or performing a dance form.
Now that we are aware of the essentiality of the dress code, let us also understand the distinct costumes, jewellery, and make-up for the major Indian classical dance forms.
What is the right dress code for Indian Classical dance forms?
There are different costumes for male dancers and female dancers that represent the cultural heritage of the dance form. The female dancers are expected to wear a skirt and blouse or ‘lehenga-choli’ while doing Kathak. The lehenga-choli are also accompanied by a sheer dupatta which is elegantly wrapped around the shoulders and bosom.
The male Kathak dancers, however, have to wear a loose-fitted tunic or ‘kurta’ with a ‘churidar salwar’. The look is completed with a turban or ‘pagri’ and an optional jacket.
The Bharatanatyam dress code is also different for men and women. The female Bharatanatyam dancers are expected to wear a silk dress with zari work. The dress is in the form of a skirt and ‘pajama’. It intends to accentuate the appearance, elegance, and grace of the dancer traditionally. The dress also consists of a blouse or ‘choli’ that is of the same color as the pajama. The appearance of the dancers is further adorned with ‘temple jewellery’ specifically designed for Bharatanatyam dancers.
The male dancers are expected to wear a pleated ‘Dhoti’ to cover the lower part of the body, while the upper part of the body is meant to be left bare with some jewelry to cover the upper body.
This blog will help you understand the requirements and importance of the dance dress code, specifically in the case of classical dance forms. However, if you are tempted to learn classical dancing and perform these dance forms while being adorned in adequate costumes and jewellery, you do not need to look any further. You can get yourself enrolled in the Kathak classes offered by Dhwani Sangeet Mahavidyalaya.