Bellydance costuming during pregnancy

My dance costuming is coming to a halt because I just did my last troupe performance with the Dalla Dream Dancers. This was my last planned bellydance event that I needed to practice and prepare for and it was splendid. We did an oriental set plus a mini workshop during an outdoor festival. I have to say that with my obvious baby bump, I feel uncomfortable doing ‘commercial’ gigs like birthdays and corporate events. Clients expect a dancer that confirms to the ideal of a beautiful, curvy and distinctly not pregnant woman. Considering that these are mostly paid performances, the wishes and expectations of clients set the rules. On my website I added that I am on maternity leave, but I am available for performances and workshops if people want to hire me anyway. I haven’t received any requests so far.

There are plenty of events and gigs that are perfect for dancers that don’t confirm to commercial beauty standards. Most outdoor events, cultural events and bellydance events are places where dancers of all shapes and sizes are welcomed and celebrated. When the Dalla Dream Dancers were booked for this gig, I made sure that the organizers were aware and okay with my pregnant belly. At this cultural outdoor event, we largely had kids and parents in the audience, who were all very appreciative and fun to dance with.

With regards to costuming, we mixed and matched some items that worked. We all have a silver and black lace dress from our Oum Kolthoum Project, I wore a silver skirt with a single layer black chiffon circle skirt on top and a stretchy tank top with black sequins. It worked well, especially since it is kinda cold and rainy in The Netherlands. Every bit of fabric that can help us stay warm is welcome. When it comes to costuming for performances during pregnancy, I have a couple of trial and error runs.

  1. Pretty early during pregnancy, my bra size changed. During the first trimester, I experienced ‘sensitive breasts’ which is a euphemism for my lady lumps turning into itchy, aching, swollen breasts. I found it comfortable and easier to wear stretchy tops, t-shirts and tie tops over a maternity bra. I did decorate a costume bra but wires and push-up ad padding didn’t feel good.

    Bellydance Moon goddess performance
    At four months, student hafla 2015
  2. My hips have gone up one size. I moved a couple of hooks on a normal bra and belt set but it is far easier to wear stretchy beaded lycra costume skirts, hip scarves or coin belts.

    Bellydancing at six and a half month pregnant
    At six and a half months, Bellydance on the Beach 2015
  3. I was and still am proud of my belly and how I look. I also found that exposing my belly during bellydance didn’t always feel good. First of all because the vast expanse of belly drew away attention from the actual dancing and second because my bare belly looks bigger in pictures compared to real life. It means walking around with what I considered a medium sized baby belly, only to see pictures where my belly looked the size of being nine months and overdue. For some performances I wore a traditional bra and belt set, which was fine. For others I used a matching t-shirt, dress or tank top. For the record, covering up a pregnant belly doesn’t look like I’m hiding my pregnancy. At this point (I am seven months in) complete strangers congratulate me on my state, offer to carry my bag and tell me to sit down and take a rest. There is no chance of hiding that I am pregnant at this point. By covering my belly, my pregnancy becomes more of a side effect (oh, that dancer is pregnant) instead of the main focus of a performance.
    Dalla Dream Dancers september 2015
    At seven months, Dalla Dream Dancers September 2015

    I liked the versatility and lines of circle skirts. The stretchy waist makes it possible to wear them throughout the pregnancy. The extra fabric at the bottom balances my belly and increasing bra size. The one time I wore a lycra mermaid skirt for a hafla in Leuven, I felt like it wasn’t quite working for me at that time. I had a wonderful time and immensely enjoyed participating in the workshops and the hafla, but this is not the most flattering image of that weekend.

    Backstage at Raks Ava 2015
    At six months, backstage at Raks Ava 2015

    If you want to know what the most flattering image of that weekend was, stay tuned for my update about the Raks Ava intensive 😉 In the next couple of months, I’ll blog more about bellydance in general and the craft projects for the nursery, making maternity clothes, that kind of thing. For now I am going to enjoy my maternity leave and look forward to meeting our baby girl.

I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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