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The Great Costume Debate: The Controversy Over Age Appropriateness

The costume of a dancer, no matter what age, has always raised doubts and question marks. You have probably heard people saying, “The dancer did very well but the costume went a little too far,” or “Is this dance or what? They looked like dancing monks,” or “I would let my little one learn dance if I know she will not embarrass me with her costumes.”

How do you react to all these statements? How far is too far, and how strict is too strict? You cannot win the approval of each person and at the same time you should not have to.

In any dance competition or dance performance, the choreographer, the costume designer and the sponsor—if there is one—make the final call whether the costume is suitable for a certain dancer. Of course, the age of the dancer will play a role here, especially if the dancer is a teenager or much younger. A dance costume is not merely an outfit; instead, it conveys a lot about the character portrayed, the region where the dance is being held, and of course the code of ethics followed by the organizers.

There are some who feel that dances should be judged on the merit of performance alone and not the costume. But then, if your dance does not signify the role you are playing and the relative era (in cases where you are telling a story to the audience through your dance) with appropriate costume, what’s the point?

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