Dancewear en l’air: The Short Sleeve Mock-Wrap Leo

Trienawear’s Extensions collection is known for it’s super supportive, all-around shelf bra and pretty satin elastic trim. For fuller-busted dancers, this collection is a dream come true. A particularly flattering cut in the Extensions collection is TR1262-C, a short-sleeved leotard with a mock-wrap empire top that creates a classic v-neck cut. These features work together to enhance a slim, hourglass look. A sweet bow in the back of the leotard is an unexpected and beautiful touch.

In addition to the usual black, this leo is available in seven colors, including rich shades like plum, wine and navy, in addition to a lovely sky-blue called porcelain. I would pair this cut with simple, classic pink tights – the cut and details show best without a skirt or warm-ups to distract from them.

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The Right Leo Size, Every Time!

As much fun as dancewear shopping can be, it can also be frustrating. There is a surprising amount of variation across brands. Pulling a bunch of leos on and off to see what flatters is trouble enough without the added complication of figuring out how the different brands are designed to fit.

As a dancer with a long torso, I found that taking my measurements and doing a little research on size schemes (and I have done that work for you as you’ll see!) took the hassle right out of dancewear shopping.

When it comes to leotard fit, you will need at least four basic measurements: bust, waist, hips and girth. To measure the first three, align a soft measuring tape parallel to the floor and wrapped snugly – but not too tightly – around the fullest level of your bust, the slimmest portion of your waist, and your hips at the hip bone level.* Wear the least bulky top and bottom possible (but nothing so tight it will change your natural size) and make sure you are standing in proper ballet posture with shoulders down and a square alignment for the truest measurements possible. Use a mirror to make sure the tape is wrapped properly for each measure.

Now for the research – which as I mentioned I have done for you! I have created a chart of all the major manufacturers’ ladies’ sizing guidelines for all brands that use a S/M/L sizing structure. (So no Sansha or Grishko, sorry!) You can download it by clicking here: BalletScoop Adult Ladies Sizing Guide. Once you have your measurements taken and written out, you can easily compare them to the chart and circle what size in each brand will suit you best. Voilà – sizing guesswork gone!!

*For pants, shorts and unitards, the hips will often need to be measured at their absolute fullest circumference, usually an inch or two below the hip bones. The waist measurement for pants should be taken at the level where the waist of the pants are expected to hit – that’s usually an inch or two below your actual waist.

Update: If you had trouble printing this size guide earlier, sorry! It is now on letter-sized paper, so should be easy printing now!

Spendin’ Cheese: Affording Your Passion for Dance

Unless you’re regularly receiving full scholarships for your dance tuition and sponsorships for your dance gear and other expenses, you may have heard your parents grumble more than once about the high cost of paying for your ballet (or jazz, or contemporary …). There are lessons, shoes, practice clothes, travel expenses, costumes and many other items to pay for in order to keep you in training.

First, the bad news: Your parents are right to question the worth of your many dance-related expenses. Don’t underestimate how burdensome it can be to support this kind of training on an average family’s salary. Good dance training and supplies cost serious money – often thousands and thousands of dollars each year. A proper dance education is a financial extravagance, and raising a family is financially challenging enough without this additional expense.

Some dancers are fortunate to have parents that can – and zestfully do – contribute to their talented offsprings’ pursuits, but more than half of the aspiring dancers I have known came from average financial backgrounds. So how can you make it all work? What do you do if your parents threaten to stop paying for your training?

There is some good news…

YOU can help.

That’s right, you probably have a lot more influence over this situation than you might think. There is a way that you can ease the financial burden, impress your parents with your dedication to your dancing and encourage them to contribute to your training. How you ask? By working!

Ok, ok, don’t click away just yet. Working doesn’t have to mean slaving away at American Eagle for a few bucks an hour. Though that is certainly an option! (Ah, the zen of folding a gazillion skinny jeans into neat stacks.) As a young dancer, I had a few sponsorships and scholarships, but I paid for a lot of my own training and gear as teenager with money I earned babysitting, teaching the children’s classes at my studio and even cleaning houses.

You don’t need three jobs on top of school and dance to impress your parents and be helpful though! Consider taking two babysitting jobs a week. If you charge $8 per hour, you could easily make over $100 per month. Agree with your parents that if they will pay for your tuition, you will pay for your dancewear, shoes and costumes – but you have to stick to the deal. Make sure you can pay for necessities like pointe shoes first and save up for any extra training programs and travel expenses before buying fun leotards and warm-ups.

If you can’t bring yourself to start working or to use your hard earned dollars to help your family with your dance expenses, it might be time to reevaluate whether dance is truly your passion or just a pursuit. If you enjoy it immensely but decide that you don’t want it enough to make sacrifices like this, you might find that you are happier just taking a weekly class for fun instead of a daily schedule. And that’s worth knowing for your own sanity’s sake! If it is your passion, you will probably find that you feel motivated to contribute and excited to be able to start taking charge of your own dance training.

As a final note: Money is very tight for a lot of people these days. My heart goes out to you if your family is dealing with a loss of employment or other financial hardship. There are undoubtedly situations where young dancers in this economy simply will not be able to continue to train regardless of how much they are able to help out. If this is your situation, know that there is a world of dance waiting for you when you are all grown up and on your own. There is a whole universe of people who started or continued dance after high school due to issues like this, and many of them love and enjoy taking class much, much more than they ever would otherwise.

Ballet in Print: In the Company of Stars

In this lavish 125-photo collection, Gérard Uféras takes the reader on a journey to observe the spectacular beauty of the ubiquitious Opéra Garnier and the intimate world of the Paris Opera Ballet dancers. Uféras spent a year observing the POB, and In the Company of Stars is the result of his brief immersion in their focused world.

Originally a French publication, the English version of this book is currently on sale for about 25% off at Amazon.

Dear CBT: Too Late for Pointe?

Dear CBT,

I’m 21 and studied ballet from the age of 4 until 13. However I gave up and returned at 19 but had to stop due to lack of funds! I have my Bloch pre-pointe shoes and my flat ballet shoes which I do practice on, and I’d never buy pointes without a teacher’s instruction.

I’m looking to getting into training soon again, but do you think its too late to work for pointe?

– Ballerina Interrupted

Dear Ballerina,

Good for you for returning to your passion despite setbacks! First, I just want you to know that pointework is certainly not the be-all end-all of dance or even ballet. Ballet can be beautiful, striking and extraordinary without pointe shoes. I’m pointing this out because, not knowing your health nor seeing your feet, I cannot guarantee that you are eligible, but I will give you the parameters so that you can get going in the right direction.

Provided that a dancer is physician-approved for exercise, the only age-related barriers would really be related to bone strength – too young could mean the bones have not sufficiently ossified, and too old could mean they had reached a point of brittleness. There are other possible roadblocks to your success – genetic predisposition to ingrown toenails, limited flexibility in the tendons and ligaments to make an arch sufficient to get over the box of a pointe shoe and other such issues that are best assessed by a well-qualified teacher and your physician in-person.

Provided that you have no such limitations, the most important thing is for your pointe preparation is to get a quality teacher, preferably someone who has taught adults long enough to understand limitations that they run into and how to relay information in a way that makes sense to them. A good teacher for any age group will enforce a minimum of two ballet technique classes per week leading up and for at least the first year of pointe. You should expect at least two years of re-training to prepare, possible more. If you get there in less time, consider it lagniappe.

If you’ll go to my website homepage, look on the black menu bar and click Pointe Shoes. Read those articles. Then check out the Adult Beginner Pointe link on my blogroll to read about one adult ballet students foray into her first year of pointe. Finally, create an account at BalletTalk for Dancers, where you will find message boards moderated for professional dancers with forums for adult student technique issues and adult student support. Search those two forums for “pointe” – there are some great threads there. I think you’ll find these resources inspirational and substantively helpful for understanding what to expect as a potential adult pointe student. Let me know if you have any more questions after checking them out!