My first ATS costume

Too much is probably not enough.

The first time I performed ATS, I got kitted out in the choli, pantaloons, skirt, and headdress I had recently made, decked myself in all my jewelry, and caked on the makeup. My day-to-day aesthetic had always been understated and I now felt awkward and completely overdressed and overdone.

Until I got to the performance venue. When I saw what my fellow dancers were wearing, I had to revise my self-perception: I was, in comparison, underdressed and under made-up.

Such is the way of ATS costuming: (what feels like) too much is probably not enough. At least for me.

ATS has a general silhouette but still a lot of latitude in the details of the costume. The basic pieces include: a choli (a backless top inspired by the Indian garment of the same name); a full tiered skirt; pantaloons; a headdress (full, low-profile, or otherwise). The look has also developed and expanded since its origin in 1987. (When I see the size of the headdresses from back in the day, I can’t help but wonder how much the teased and hairsprayed coiffures of the day influenced their proportions.)

Troupe costumes tend to relate to each other without coming close to being identical. I’d go so far to say that the ATS aesthetic generally rejects mass produced items because they tend to lack character. Part of the joy in creating your costume is celebrating the individuality of items made by hand rather than by a machine.

You express your personality when you choose (buy, make) your costume pieces. If you have too many pieces to wear them all at once, you express your creativity in the way you curate and display your collection for the day’s performance.

After my first performance, I began my collection in earnest.

I enjoy the costuming aspect of ATS, so I’ll be sharing some of my costume pieces here on the blog. I hope to provide some inspiration and information. And even if this is all old hat to you, it’s still fun to peek inside someone else’s costume closet, don’t you think?

Author: Zena

I sew sometimes.

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