Temple Dance Fashion – Transitioning the Classical to Contemporary

On May 5, 2012 by pampi

In keeping with the desire to break from the sculptural forms of my classical training into improvised movement, costuming plays a great part in testing the bounds of this new form of story-telling I am developing in dance.

I don’t have the confidence in my hodge-podge second-generation American-based training in classical dance to work expertly from the inside. I feel I have always been an outsider so any exception I may take to certain aspects of the form, I feel I can do so respectfully by breaking out of the form and embracing a variation that acknowledges both my classical face and body and my free-flowing and lively folk and street movements.

I seek to re-tell many stories, focusing on notions of gender, sexuality and the body politic. This makes not only breaking from classical form (movement-wise) imperative, but also clothing the dancer’s body to a form recognizable by today’s standards as important. Somehow dressing as Yama Yami in pencil jeans that I cut out and dyed makes the character relevant now. No longer obsolete, this character struts his/her rockstar self boldly.

Here you see the traditional draping of sculpture dancers vs. the interpretation applying today’s fashions.

It took me a bit to figure our how to drape as a temple dancer of yore might have. After scouring images of temple sculpture for hours and hours, my nimble fingers finally worked it out. By doing this, I stepped away from the partially tailored, heavily gilded costumes favored by today’s professional temple dancers. I prefer a draped form to be fully draped and enjoy draping myself. I also have an affinity to a spare aesthetic without the jewels and flowers and gold of the court dancers of the past. Since last December I have been performing in this draped variation.

Curious to translate the draping into tailored street clothing, this May I made this outfit out of pencil jeans. The pink side represents the draping of the gorgeous temple dancers of yore. I cut into the jean to evoke the draped look visually but in a way that is expected of rockstar jeans. the orange side, the tiger skin look that Shiva rocks, I also cut out and played with two dyes.

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