Sunday, 21 August 2011

Turning Heads, Tribal Style!

Hi - it's Cayte here! The other day I was thrilled to find a feathery base that I bought in San Francisco last year. It's been earmarked for a glorious new hair decoration and I'm rather excited at the prospect. However it's also got me to thinking (yes, I appreciate that can be dangerous)! Thinking about tribal hair in all its wonderful, amazing forms .....
The tribalistas among you will know excatly what I'm talking about here. Decorated hair isn't just an optional extra, it isn't just the icing on the cake; it's actually a vital and integral part of your costume. Just envision a tribal dancer in all her glory - the deep, vibrant colours, rich luxuriant fabrics, heavy antique jewellery, carefully applied make up and bindi ...... and then imagine her hair - plain, simple, unadorned. No matter how lovely her hair might be, the costume is incomplete. It really is a top-to-toe look. And nowadays there are so many options (I was quite overwhelmed when I researched ideas for this post!) that there's no excuse!

So --- what CAN you so with your hair?

In the early days of tribal, a turban was de rigeur. You will no doubt have seen early FatChance photos or videos showing how beautifully these complemented their costumes, adding to that wonderful eclectic ethnic mix. However, that was around twenty years ago, and for all sorts of reasons turbans aren't seen as much now. In many ways that's a shame - done right they look dignified, elegant and imposing and really help to enhance that image of strength. However, they really do need to be accompanied by full tribal make up ... as Cyreigna shows beautifully here :

Fabulous - she's really rocking that look! And the addition of flowers gives it a softer, modern twist too! I should add at this point that, beyond a bit of home experimentation (which ended in a worrying resemblance to Widow Twanky!) I've never actually worn a turban so can't advise you on the practicalities, but our teacher Chris has written a tutorial; check it out here if you'd like to have a go!

 Another approach. more wearable for some, is to use scarves to create a head wrap. The scarves go around your head so don't cover all your hair, creating a softer look - you can leave your own hair or fake dreads to hang out either at the bottom or from the crown of your head, and can then decorate the scarves with jewellery or flowers. Tribal Jane is a bit of a fan of this look, as you can see! Her advice is to wrap and twist the scarves, using a base scarf that won't slip - and then just go for it with feathers, flowers - whatever you fancy! As with a turban you can use really special fabrics and colours that tie in with the rest of your costume.

You can use scarves as liberally or minimalistically as you wish; here Jo is wearing a scarves as a hair band, but the beautiful colours and added decorations make them look really special! The world really is your oyster here - just play and have fun! But don't forget you'll need a good selection of clips and pins to hold it all in place - you don't want to lose bits of head gear every time you spin!

Our next look is the rather fabulous hair garden. Basically it's what it sounds like - a head of hair adorned with flowers, feathers and hair sticks. However, you do need a bit of hair to attach all this too, as you can see here! This really is a look that you can make as elaborate or as simple as you wish --- you can use your own hair as a base, or can add fake dreads made either from yarn or from synthetic hair.  When adding flowers you can buy ready made flower clips quite easily at supermarkets and accessory stores; the garden in this photo was built up from several clips including a lovely hand made flower clip from our dancing friend Tania at the  Tribal Temptress. Alternatively you can buy fake flowers at garden centres (amongst other places - we've found bargains at supermarkets and pound stores!) and then, depending on the thickness of the stem, either trim them down and just poke them into your hair or stick them onto a clip to make your own creation!

Here you can see that Sarah has used a bun as a base, which has then been built up with synthetic dreads, flowers and feathers. A decorated hairband completes the look. For a bun tutorial as well as lots of other interesting and useful stuff take a look at Auralynne's blog here. There are also lots of tips for making hair sticks and other lovelies both here and on her website!

Whilst we're talking about yarn hairfalls, they really are easier to make than you think. You can buy them from e bay and other places, but take care as some are very sparse to say the least. If you're feeling crafty there's another great tutorial from Auralynne here. We have made our own in the past using yarn with ribbon and lace added for effect. However, rather than attaching ours via a pony tail band, we used a large haircomb. We wrapped the top part of the comb (ie not the teeth!) with yarn and then attached the falls one at a time by weaving them into the wool. This method allows you to make a really thick fall, and you can then glue or sew fake flowers over the top to both hide the join and to make a complete accessory. You attach it by putting your hair into a pony tail and then just sliding the comb down into the top between your head and the pony tail band. It really is VERY secure (we never ever lost one!) and your pony tail is hidden by the thick falls. Unfortunately we don't have any recent clear photos of us wearing our yarn falls as we haven't sported them for a while now. However this photo made me giggle -- it is me, after my very first tribal performance several years ago! You can just see the falls (I did get the hang later of doing a higher ponytail so you could actually see the lovely flowers from the front. I also stopped coordinating my falls with a yarn fringe hip belt! Aaaagh!!!).

'All this is very well', I hear some of you cry, 'but I haven't got enough hair to do that!'. Fear not, I understand completely! Both Sarah and I had our hair cut short (and I mean too short to scrape into a ponytail folks!) earlier this year and we had to do a big performance hair rethink. And so - the tribal hairband! Basically you take a hair band - either thick or thin - and decorate it adding flowers and so on to your heart's content, and then just - well, wear it! Simples!!!! In thsi photo we've used that method. Sarah has a feather and jewel decoration, attached to a thin band (which she covered with satin ribbon) whilst I'm wearing a thicker headband, decorated with ethnic braid and then with flowers, feathers and hairsticks added. Yes folks, everything you see there is attached to the one band - and what a revelation it was! So easy and comfortable! See the Gingerbread Bunny's Folksy shop link below if you're not feeling crafty enough to make your own - she has a couple of these for sale!

THE GINGERBREAD BUNNY :  Once again you can buy flower and feather decorations from various sources, including Sarah's Gingerbread Bunny store  - get in touch with her and link to her Folksy shop via her Facebook page here. This is one of her feathery creations in cerise and black and I just LOVE it! I am resisting with some difficulty!!! Below it is another of her creations - a custom order in red, black and white, currently being sported by Kate of 400 Roses! Check out the Gingerbread Bunny Folksy shop here for gorgeous items to purchase - alternatively get in touch with Sarah for a custom order! Oh, and if any of you in the UK are going to the Tribal Twisterhood's Sleepover Weekend in November - check it out here -  Sarah is actually running a workshop on how to make these beauties (and yes, you will come away with one all of your very own!). And the Bunny doesn't just do hair decorations - check out her crocheted zill muffs and wristlets as well as tribal head bands, hand made journals and lots of other crafty stuff!

VAUNTVILLE : If you're into an elaborate, vintage look then you need to take a look at the creations of our friend Brandy from Portland, Oregon; we were honoured to dance with her last summer and she really is a lady of many talents! Her Facebook page here has lots of her fabulous creations for your delectation.
She makes all manner of luscious feathered and bejewelled lovelies which  would work beautifully with fusion costuming - or indeed for any special occasion. Gorgeous!!! Take a look at her Etsy shop here for more examples of her work.
DEADLY DESIRES : And finally, now for something for those of you who like to dance on the darker side of life! Deadly Desires is the brainchild of another of our dancing friends Paula, from Yorkshire. Yes, the bejewelled skull you see adorning the fabulous headdress on the right is REAL. It was made for dark fusion dancer Bex, who featured in our Video of the Week a couple of months ago.
This photo is of one of her very recent creations - a blackbird's wing fascinator (and yes, once again the wing is real!). I would hasten to add here that Paula only takes materials from animals that have died naturally or in road accidents. She says of her work : 'Most of the skulls and feathers I use have been collected and prepared by myself. I view it as an opportunity to recycle an unfortunate animal that has generally been in collision with a vehicle and offer it's spirit a chance to go forward with dignity and beauty'. Check out the Deadly Desires Facebook page here!

Well, there you go .... that's about it for now. I do confess I could have gone on for PAGES with this post - there are so many beautiful photos out there and I'm really conscious I have had to miss some looks out - kuchi headpieces for example. But I need to stop somewhere I suppose! If you're on then you'll find ideas in the photos of many tribes on there, including Tribal Bellydance and Make Up and Hair for dancers. When looking for the first photo in the post I did a search for images of tribal headdresses, expecting lots of photos of Ouled Nail, Bedouin headwear and so on. Well, I got a few of those - but mostly I got loads of photos of tribal BELLYDANCE hair! I could have spent hours looking!!!

Hopefully you'll be feeling all inspired now! Until next time, happy dancing!

Thank you to Brandy Grey (Vauntville), Cyndi Cyreigna, Paula Bavill (Deadly Desires) and The Gingerbread Bunny (Sarah Jones) for use of images in this post

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the shout out to my etsy store ladies! Hope you get to come back to Portland soon! xoxoxo