Ballet is a well-renowned art form known for its poise and grace. With an exciting choice of clothing, ballet dancers have access to unique styles. Haven’t you often wondered what do ballerinas wear? Have you ever wondered what they are called?
Ballet is a dance form that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century. It later became popular in France and Russia, and they conceived it into modern-day ballet. Although most of what dance showcases are still in its original form, some parts of it have adapted into contemporary styles.
Ballet dancewear, in particular, is known for its iconic style of classic, formfitting clothes that highlight muscle movements. So most of the performance clothing is similar to what was worn initially but now has been adapted with newer technology to help the body.
The main idea behind what ballerinas wear is to enhance their muscle movement and flexing. So a strict rule followed by all ballerinas is that they will not wear any loose and baggy clothes. With such loose clothes, it’s hard for them and their tutors to help identify wrong body movements.
Ballet consists of a lot of leg movements, and hence special attention is given just to the legs, about which we will look further into after the segment on the outfits.
What do Ballerinas Wear on a Regular Practice Day?
Ballerinas generally wear a ballet leotard and tights for practice. Leotards are one-piece garments that are skin tight and cover the body from the shoulders to the crotch.
You will very certainly be required to remove all of your additional accoutrements during your ballet class. However, it will be on those cold winter days or extra rehearsals that you will most likely thank yourself for purchasing some leg warmers or woolen cardigans.
They are uni-sex, and variations such as attached tights can also be found. Their design usually varies on the type of neckline and sleeves, according to their comfort. Leotards help with the flexibility of the body because of the material being lycra or spandex, which are elastic enough to give support to the body.
All ballerinas, male ballet dancers and female, usually wear tights with the ballet leotards, but during pas de deux class, for variation, the female student has to wear classic tutus or tulle skirts. This is to differentiate between the male and female parts of the performance. Some female ballerinas opt for chiffon wrap skirts instead of a classic tutu, which covers the hips and butt while displaying the legs.
Ballerinas also opt to wear warm work-out clothes. They usually wear it in the winters or cold studios to keep their body warm because of a lot of muscle activity and to not cause any muscle spasms. Cozy leg warmers and knit shorts are worn to keep their muscles warm while their hips lose for better body movement.
A classic wrap sweater, to keep it wrapped closer to the body (to avoid baggy clothes), keeps their back muscles warm. While all these types of garments are generally worn by all ballerinas, specific schools and studios have strict rules about the clothing they are restricted to wear.
It includes particular colors depending on the different levels or even different days of the week. While most studios opt for a pink ballet leotard and pink tights for females, males are asked to wear either white or black. Even rules on hairstyles are strict among these schools.
What do Ballerinas Wear for a Performance?
What ballerinas wear for performance is what the general public has usually seen. A female ballerina usually wears a combination of tutus, and accompanying bodice, and tights. Tutus are a costume that has been specifically designed for ballet. Nylon, tarlatan, silk, muslin, gauze or tulle are usually used to make these tutus. There are two types of tutus used in modern-day ballet
The difference between the romantic tutu and the classic tutu lie in the shape and length. while the romantic tutu is soft and bell-shaped usually reaching till the calf, the classic tutu is short and projects horizontally from the waist making it stiff. The type of tutu and the colors vary on the performance and storyline.
Tulle skirts are also worn occasionally, that moves away slightly from the basic tutus. Tulle is a lightweight, very fine stiff netting that can be made from different materials like silk, polyester, rayon, and nylon.
While females have a lot of variety and choice in their costumes, males generally wear good quality ballet tights and a fitting body top that matches the role he is playing. Men are also asked to wear a dance belt that streamlines their bodies.
In addition to the ballet tights, male ballet dancers wear an incredibly important item of clothing known as the dancing belt. This is not a belt, but rather a robust piece that is worn beneath the ballet tights to conceal the definition of the crotch.
Footwear for Ballerinas
As you know, ballet consists of a lot of leg movements and muscle strains. What do ballet dancers wear on their feet to avoid any mishaps and excessive stress, while providing utmost comfort? Ballerinas wear two types of shoes. The essential ballet shoes or ballet slippers as they are often called and pointe shoes that are worn to do pointe work.
The ballet shoe is a lightweight shoe designed specifically for ballet dancers. It is made of satin and has a flexible leather sole, which does not reach the end of the shoe. It is designed to make the shoe flexible to move with the foot. Ballet shoes are worn by beginners and younger dancers. Males also generally wear ballet shoes as they don’t do much pointe work. Some ballerinas also wear toe padding inside their ballet shoes, which encases and protects their toes.
Pointe shoes are shoes that are specifically designed for ballerinas to dance on their toes. While doing pointe work, a lot of stress is put on the toes that these shoes are needed to provide extra cushioning and support. Pointe shoes are custom made for each ballerina depending on the size and shape of their feet.
It has a box in front of the shoe that supports the toes, a leather sole on the bottom of the shoe, and a shank that helps you go on your toes. It has a piece of elastic and two ribbons to hold it on to your feet, which you can find on ballet shoes as well. Pointe shoes are usually worn by advanced female dancers.
Other Clothing Styles
I am sure you must be wondering what ballet dancers wear on a typical day to say grocery shopping or a night out with friends. As you must have understood, ballerinas need to take care of their feet a lot, so there are a few things most of them follow. You will never find a ballerina wearing flip-flops. Flip-flops, as much as they might seem comfortable, use the big toe to hold on to the slipper causing tendonitis and calf injuries.
While it might be convenient for us, it is quite uncomfortable and unhealthy for ballerinas. While most ballerinas have their sense of comfort-clothing, you will hardly find them wearing heels unless for an extraordinary occasion that calls for it. Most ballerinas, even for important events like weddings and other formal gatherings, prefer wearing flats to heels.
Now that you know what ballet dancers wear, I am sure you must have interesting insights and thoughts about not just ballet dancewear, but also of that of other styles of dancing. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
-Edited by Steffy Michael|25/6/22