Shibli Mohammad a renowned Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer shared his views on the lesser known facet of dance costumes. Shibli was the principal male dancer at the Shilpakala Academy for many years and has performed at many major state functions.
According to Shibli, Bangladesh is now self sufficient in its dance costumes--be it for the classical dance forms of Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi or Bengal. In his view, the choice of costume depends on the form of dance: For Kathak the dancers wear rope ghunguur (ankle bells) rather than cotton ghunguur. Moreover, Kathak dancers attire themselves in ghagra (long skirt), choli (blouse) and a veil. Churidar, pyjama and angrakha and finally a saree for women are the norm too. To set off the dancers, jewellery for Kathak dancers is fashioned from gold and silver.
Odissi male dancers wear the dhoti. On the other hand, Bharatanatyam dancers wear gorgeous Kanjivaram saris (made of silk with gold zari embroidery) from India. There are two commonly used styles in Bharatanatyam: the skirt (saree) style or the pyjama style. “There was a time when we used to buy our costumes and props from India but now there are a lot of adept workers in Bangladesh who can turn out any kind of costume, though the cost of these embellishments is increasing by the day,” says Shibli.