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Costume Ideas from Gypsy Dancers All Over the World

Updated on March 10, 2017
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I took bellydance lessons and performed, then became interested in costume. The historical relationship of dance and culture is fascinating.

Gypsy Dance, Colorful Costumes, Fiery Passion

A Gypsy Garb

Immediately we think of a wild melange of color, but what are the essential elements?

Depending on which shape-shifting variation you wish to present:

  • Belly dancer...
  • Eastern European ...
  • Flamenco dancer

What reasons are there to put together a costume in this style? Renaissance Fairs, dance performances, or that most loved time for dressing up, Halloween are all occasions when choosing one of the variations of this highly identifiable outfit.

Whether it is for your own dance performance or for the classic Halloween costume, "The Gypsy" look is fun to put together. The common denominator is plenty of flash and color.

The Quintessential Coif: Long Dark Hair and a Scarf

What do you think of when picturing a gypsy? Long black hair warn loosely, a bright scarf to wrap it up and gold coin jewelry.
What do you think of when picturing a gypsy? Long black hair warn loosely, a bright scarf to wrap it up and gold coin jewelry. | Source

Don't have the long dark hair that is a signature style for under the bandana? Simply use a wig, many dancers do. If you find the idea of extensions too troublesome and costly, especially if just wanting to costume for a single event like Halloween, use an inexpensive wig just for the purpose.

Common Elements of this Mode of Costume

Put Together Your Own Version

Gypsies don't call themselves by that name, they call themselves "Roma" or "Rom". A colorful people with a long history, they inspire a romantic view and enrich our cultures with their costume, crafts and dance. This is a look at influences their dance has on other cultures and their costuming, because we all know that it is a favorite look whenever there is a costume party!

Essentials

  • The jewelry: hoops, bangles, strands of beads, coin decorated scarves.
  • Scarves: for head and hip, and over the shoulder, as well
  • Skirts: full and colorful, combining prints and bright colors in a uniquely individual way.
  • Boots, high heels, stylish footwear, if possible. Take your pick.
  • Blouse that is full and feminine- peasant style.


Common Elements of Gypsy Dance and How It Influences Other Cultures

The history of the Roma and their dance is intertwined. A common denominator in many of the belly dances, folk dances and the Flamenco of Spain, are hip and hand movements. All these dance forms share some of the same movements and steps.

Today's fusions have proven a little harder to "pull off", because while the movements create a common bond, the other factors such as feeling and manner are much more difficult to meld well.

What are the elements of Gypsy dance?

Take a tour of a few examples and enjoy the entertainment that Gypsy people have perfected in their artistry of music and dance.

Romani Style Belly Dance

A D-I-Y Ensemble

Many parts of a belly dance garb have been lifted from the wardrobe of performing Gypsies. The intention is to draw attention and impress with vivid and spectacular design.

Except for gold jewelry, it doesn't take much wealth to produce an eye catching outfit.

Anyone wanting to make a splash in their Halloween plans can borrow these costume ideas. It isn't hard to put together this ensemble.

Nowadays, we don't need real gold to create shine and sparkle, anyway. There are plenty of costume jewelry choices: chandelier earrings, strands of golden metal and beads, fake coins, and ethnic looks.

Add them to beautiful skirts and blouses, and further outfit with heeled boots.

Voila! You're done, with a more or less authentic look that brings theatre onto the scene.

Skirt Style, Accessories: Get the Look

Whether short or long, a skirt that flares and swirls is part of the traditional gypsy look.

*Tiers of colored ruffles or one skirt over another, with the outer one hiked up to reveal the underskirt.

*A full peasant blouse, sometimes with a wide neckline. Sometimes a bolero vest.

Set off the waist with a hip scarf or wide belt.

*A headscarf and big hoop earrings. tie on bandana style

*Bling, bling, bling when it comes to necklaces and bangle bracelets.

*Dangling earrings work

Turkish

The Caravan

Gypsies brought their culture to many countries
Gypsies brought their culture to many countries

Making the Dance Moves

What makes this style dancing so enthralling?

It is enthralling for one reason: the performance is infused with passion and intensity. The most technically well-articulated gypsy dance leaves the viewer flat if it does not vibrate with the emotional intensity of the Gypsy soul.

That is just part and parcel of this style of dance.

I am not sure if the dance can be separated from the music and interaction of the performers. It is an art form of inner fire, but also a response to the musicians and the story that is being portrayed. But like any particular cultural performance style, there is a vocabulary of movement and gesture that can be understood and appreciated by the audience.

Gestures, hand bumping, and skirt gestures might have meaning in certain cultural forms, but they are usually used as a way to accent percussive sounds in the music. Some of the gestures are obvious references to everyday activities like washing clothes or baking, etc.

Emotions Expressed

Happiness may be expressed by the dancer touching her fingertips to her forehead, or placing her fingertips just at the top of her ear.

An Egyptian gesture, Al Assal, made with the dancer's fingertips to the side of her chin, means "as sweet as honey."

Eastern European Fusion

Flamenco Style

Arising from Spain, flamenco brings together many aspects of Gypsy culture, and is a particularly sophisticated costume. One of the most famous dancers, Carmen Amaya, demonstrated that the dress wasn't always stereotypical.

Greatest performances

Flamenco, Gypsy Flamenco, and Arabic Fusion

red is a classic color choice for these dresses
red is a classic color choice for these dresses | Source

Connections with Flamenco

Spanish Gypsies

"One can hear the strong Arabic influence in flamenco music....the dance moments in flamenco with the hips and the portrayal of strong emotion and passion are essentially Arabic." -Hossam Ramzy

Flamenco dances, from the gypsies of Andalusia are considered to be of fairly recent origin. It is believed these dances preserve many of the traditional characteristics of Spanish dancing.

Spanish Styled

Elements of the Flamenco ensemble for women include:

  • Ruffled, colorful skirts
  • Large flower in the hair
  • Large hoop or chandelier earrings
  • At times, a long fringed shawl
  • Mid heeled dress shoes
  • Sometimes a version of the men's style

Men's styling:

  • Bolero jacket
  • High waisted trousers
  • Boots, usually short.
  • Decorations such as braid on the jacket

My Favorite Dance is....

Which is your favorite Gypsy influenced dance?

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Gypsy surfer- tell us you were here!

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