The Artistry Behind the Bharatanatyam Costume: An Insight into the Costume

Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form that originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is known for its intricate footwork, expressive gestures, and vibrant costumes. The costumes worn by Bharatanatyam dancers play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of the performance. In this article, we will explore the art of designing Bharatanatyam costumes and the key elements to consider. It not only adds beauty and grace to the performance but also plays a significant role in portraying the character and emotions of the dancer. Behind every stunning Bharatanatyam costume is a talented costume designer who meticulously crafts each piece. In this article, we will delve into the world of the Bharatanatyam costume designer and explore the artistry behind their creations.

The Role of the Costume Designer

Understanding the Dance Form

  • Researching the history and cultural significance of Bharatanatyam to provide dance costume ideas
  • Familiarizing themselves with the various elements of the dance form, such as mudras (hand gestures) and abhinaya (expressions) to recommend a proper Bharatanatyam dress based on natya shastra

Collaborating with the Dancer

  • Meeting with the dancer to discuss their vision and requirements for the indian dance costumes
  • Understanding the character and emotions the dancer wants to convey through their performance

Designing the Costume

  • Sketching initial designs and presenting them to the dancer for feedback
  • Selecting appropriate fabrics, colors, and embellishments that reflect the essence of Bharatanatyam
  • Creating patterns and motifs that enhance the overall aesthetic of the costume

The Art of Costume Making

Fabric Selection

  • Exploring different types of fabrics that are suitable for Bharatanatyam costumes
  • Considering factors such as comfort, durability, and ease of movement

Embellishments and Accessories

  • Choosing embellishments like sequins, beads, and stones to enhance the costume's visual appeal
  • Designing and creating accessories such as jewelry, headpieces, and waistbands that complement the costume

Tailoring and Construction

  • Taking precise measurements of the dancer's body to ensure a perfect fit
  • Cutting and sewing the fabric to create the different components of the costume, such as the blouse, skirt, and dupatta
  • Paying attention to intricate details like pleats, tucks, and embroidery

Challenges Faced by Costume Designers

Balancing Tradition and Innovation

  • Striking a balance between preserving the traditional elements of Bharatanatyam costumes and incorporating modern design elements
  • Adapting to the changing preferences and tastes of dancers while staying true to the essence of the dance form

Time and Cost Constraints

  • Working within tight deadlines to complete the costumes before the performance
  • Managing the budget allocated for the costumes and finding cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality



The Bharatanatyam costume designer's world is one of creativity, skill, and attention to detail. Their artistry brings life to the costumes, making them an integral part of the dancer's performance. By understanding the role of the costume designer and the challenges they face, we can truly appreciate the beauty and significance of the Bharatanatyam costume.

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