Answer: It’s a common concern. I have several pages in Book #5, Tribal Vibes, to show that a Tribal dancer does not need wear a backless choli like the one on Zanbaka, left. It’s a popular look since the influence of Fat Chance Bellydance made it the must-have Tribal look in the 90s (though less so, now). But for many women it isn’t practical, comfortable or flattering to go braless under a top that has no built-in support.
Support and uplift for the larger or less firm (or almost any) bosom while dancing is a good idea. Wear what works for you and looks good. The book illustrates many alternatives to the bare no-bra back.
1.(Above left, modeled by Elizabeth) The back of the choli could be cut very low, just barely enough to cover the bra strap. That still shows a lot of back. The top could be sewn onto the bra band, so that the bra can’t slip out and show. This is easier if the bra has a front closure instead of a back closure. If it has a back closure, the back of the top can be divided and sewn to each side of the bra, so both layers hook together.
2. (Above center) The bra band could be covered and decorated to match the costume and be part of it. Brocade ribbon, shisha mirrors, rows of coins, or frog fasteners could cover the bra back. No elastic should be showing. The long blue and purple ribbons tie the choli; the brocade ribbon-covered strap belongs to the bra. This is easiest if the bra has a front rather than a typical back closure. That way, there are no hooks in back to deal with.
In the example above center, the choli has a narrow back opening rather than NO back at all. About eight inches of the bra band shows, and the shoulder straps are hidden.
3. The side/back bra band could be replaced with long ribbon ties that match or harmonize with the choli. If the bra cups are decorated as well (above right) the bra can be fastened over the choli; this is a popular look.
5. Firm bra cups, the type meant to be sewn into swimwear or strapless gowns, can be sewn directly into the choli. This works best for a smaller-size bust. The problem is, if the choli is backless, there’s not enough material holding the choli tightly against the body to make sure the cups do their job. Two sets of choli ties in back, or a laced-back effect would secure the choli/bra better. (To get into a back-laced choli without help, it needs to have a front closure.)
6. (Above left) A cutout Ghawazee vest/coin bra combo could be worn instead of a backless choli. The vest has a back, but it could have a decorative cut-out or appliqués on the back to make it interesting.
7. (Above right) A midriff top in a tie front or pullover style can also be decorated with a cut-out in the back, leaving enough fabric to cover a bra band. This shows a generous slice of back without being too revealing. ~ Dina Lydia