Photo of Shira



PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Are You Sure Your Costume Isn't See-Through? (You Might Be Surprised!)

By Saqra




Lycra is rather opaque (non-see-through), and therefore dancers assume their bodies are fully covered. They assume it's not an issue to go commando (without underwear) as there are no unfortunate cut outs or badly timed twirls with leg slits. However, strong stage light and sunlight can actually penetrate straight through the fabric and bounce off skin, rendering the costume sheer to your audience.

People expect sheer when they look at light cotton and chiffon that they can see through under all circumstances. I'm pretty certain people realize flash photography and strong stage lights often go right through a multiple-layered chiffon skirt. I'm certain they also realize that the pretty gauze broomstick skirt is probably going to be completely sheer in direct sunlight as the sun goes through the fabric and bounces off your skin.

What people really don't seem to expect is that fabrics such as lycra or elastane that appear nice and opaque under normal light are also often sheer under strong lighting.

Example: We use very strong stage lighting at my monthly shows. The band has become completely accustomed to seeing through the dancers' costumes from the back, but it is obvious the dancers don't know they are also often completely transparent to the audience. I was just sorting old pictures from our monthly shows. Pardon me if I don't put up a shot to illustrate.

So, really, do not assume you are as covered as you believe you are without taking the time to really explore what your costume does under bright lighting.

Other quick notes:

  • Lighter colors are usually more transparent. However, I just saw a woman in a black lycra top on a television show and you could see fine detail on her bra and spanx.
  • Reflective fabrics give you a bit more coverage, which you may or may not want at times. Example: If you are using a veil with metallic designs and you do something dramatic behind the veil, all your audience is seeing is a piece of fabric with feet.
  • Wear underwear.

Your mileage may vary, but I don't want to see all your mileage!

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Index to Costuming Section


Share this page!

On Facebook


 Top > Belly Dancing > Index to Costuming Section

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |