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 Beauty & Fashion

August 2012

Dress To Dance!

Shiamak Davar
 
“Designing costumes for dancers needs an understanding of the art form to ensure comfort, freedom of movement, clarity in the display of each step and yet keeping it stylish and bright.”
The grandeur of a stage performance is determined by the entirety of the production; choreography, set design and costumes. A lot of individual attention and detailing goes into each aspect to make it look spectacular. The theme, concept and essence of each song or piece determine the look for it, so that all three go hand in hand and the audience can understand the story being narrated on stage through dance movements.

Designing costumes for dancers needs an understanding of the art form to ensure comfort, freedom of movement, clarity in the display of each step and yet keeping it stylish and bright. In fact, if we look at the costumes worn in our traditional art forms, they have been thoughtfully designed for themovement that is displayed, whether it is the pleats that spread open in Bharatnatyam or the anarkali/lehenga that accentuates the turns in Kathak. Even in the West, the relaxed style of Hip Hop reads into the cool baggy clothes they wear.

For me, it is the dance alone that must be able to convey the story. When I present contemporary ‘Shiamak Style’ pieces, I do not emphasise on costume,so the focus remains on the art form, the technique and the movement. But, yes of course, when it is grand stage shows and bollywood performances, costumes play a pivotal role in taking the act one notch higher. I’ve always personally designed costumes for the pieces I choreograph, as even they are a part of the vision and add to the performance on stage. The material, colour, pattern, flow and fit, all make a difference in the final design.

Dancers, more often than not, have quick costume changes during shows, so it is very important to keep in mind that costumes can slip on and off easily. I’m very particular that the costumes fit well, and are worn properly to avoid any malfunctions on stage. Before any show, all my dancers try every costume and see that they fit to the tee. Their costumes are tailor-made to their sizes so they are comfortable on stage and costumes make their performance better, not hamper their movement.

People have always recognised my shows by the superbity in dance, costumes and sets. Everything is larger than life, so the audience gets a surreal experience. Whether it was the costumes for over a thousand dancers depicting folk, sufi, western and bollywood at the Commonwealth Games, New Delhi or displaying the colours of India at international platforms like the World Economic Forum (Davos) and the IIFA Awards, the costumes represented the dance form and our culture in the same breath; rich and celebrated.

Always focus on every minute detail; the effort that goes into the smallest of things makes the larger picture that much more beautiful. Take yourself to the place that your choreography talks about, to the era that it represents and the essence it holds.
Shiamak Davar Choreographer and Founder, Artistic Director, Shiamak Davar International, Mumbai.