S12 is available in the same happy, energetic shades as the matching leo, and those hues also match many other Energetiks leotards. Great for a variations class or to inspire you in your first day of a new rehearsal.
Looking for something new and fun to wear for rehearsals and auditions? Check out Energetiks AL34, a freestyle and feminine camisole leotard with a tie-dye velvet insert on an empire – remember, that’s “AHM-peer” 🙂 – waist.
This statement-making yet simple leo features a studious pinched V-front and a pinched straight back which keeps the tie-dye accent from making it all look too over-the-top. I just love the look of that pinched straight back, which precisely accents the back muscles.
This limited-edition piece is available in an array of purples, pinks, and reds along with classic black and the cobalt shown here. I would definitely splurge and get the Energetiks tie dye skirt (which I’ll post in un momento) to wear with this fabulous and fun ballet leotard!
Let’s beat those Monday blues with some fashion today. If you’re in the mood for a stylistic pick-me-up, Capezio’s 1290, a printed chiffon wrap skirt, is just the thing for your next class.
I really like the length of this skirt for pointe classes in particular – the gently tapered hem gives a nice length to the leg without looking – ahem – “hoochie” short. And the floral pattern of teal, burgundy, pink and black will pair nicely with a basic black or with your bolder leos in similar hues. I think it would look great over a unitard, too. All in all, an elegant but very fun pick.
Sheer Delights makes some lovely wrap skirts for young dancers, including this beautiful wine-hued crinkle wrap skirt with a matching scrunchie.
This beautiful and girly skirt is embellished with sparkly metallic stripes and glitter. Paisley flocking adds an ethereal touch. This skirt would look so perfect for ballet class paired with just a burgundy velvet empire leotard and pink tights.
Impossible you say? How can a frumpy character skirt possibly flatter your figure? When its a sleek and not ridiculously long wrap style. Thanks to Bal-Togs, you have just such an option with 86, available through On Stage Dancewear.
This style is conveniently available in multiple lengths. I think character skirts look best when they just cover the knee – anything longer is too cumbersome and mature looking. You can’t play the part of a young European peasant if you look like an elderly marm! Also, the wrap cut of this skirt eliminates the frumpy, schlumpy gathers that the elastic-waist versions often have and which can add unattractive volume to the hips. Just make sure a wrap style is allowed in your character class, and then get ready to mazurka!
In my recent post on the tutus, I featured this lovely rehearsal piece, C705, by Primadonna Tutus as the example. But such a well-made and economical piece really deserves it’s own post.
This practice tutu comes in classic white tulle. The black and white basque mimics the pointed basque-waist of a performance tutu’s architecture when worn with a black leotard as shown. This is a gorgeous rehearsal piece, but if you are looking to dress it up for a competition or recital, be forewarned that the two-tone feature doesn’t really lend itself to evolution into anything else. Primadonna offers all-white and all-black options if you need that versatility.
The price is nice on this piece and options include a 12″ or 14″ skirt, a hoop on request for $20 more, and either eight or ten layers of tulle. All told, you’ll probably won’t even reach $200 for the most expensive version.
If you are getting ready to take ballet for the first time, you might want a heads up on what to expect, from what the barre is really for to what the teachers expect from you.
When you arrive, find out where to put your dance bag and purse. If you need to change, find out where dressing or restrooms are available. You should be in your dancewear with hair pulled back and completely ready to walk into class five minutes before the start time.
Exercises in ballet follow a certain general order. The class is begun at the barre, which you are probably familiar with from movies and TV as a railing that is used by dancers for warm-up. The barre is intended to be a light support. You should always practice at the barre as if you will eventually perform the exercises without it – because you will! Hanging on the barre or gripping it are huge no-nos.
When you walk into class, the first thing to do is introduce yourself to the teacher. Even if you met her during your enrollment, it is helpful for her if you re-introduce yourself.
Next, find a spot at the barre about four to five feet away from anyone else so that you can perform your exercises without kicking or bumping someone else accidentally. There’s definitely an unspoken rule about who gets what spot at the barre. Students who have some seniority usually have favorite spots that are considered theirs. Wait a few seconds before choosing your spot so you can avoid “stealing” one from one of these students.
If it’s the first day of class for a number of students or if it’s the first day of the year, the teacher might go over some class rules. In case she doesn’t though, here’s the basic rundown of what’s expected:
- When you are in the studio, speak only when prompted or raise your hand when you have a question, even if class is over or hasn’t yet begun.
- Ask for permission to leave the room or leave early, and ask in advance if at all possible. Never arrive late. If you absolutely must, enter the room as quietly as possible. Do not enter or exit the studio during a combination.
- Adhere to the dress code. Be neat and clean. Do not wear ill-fitting items or those in disrepair.
- At the barre and in the center, do not get so close to others that you kick or bump into them.
- Do not compare yourself to others. Work towards your personal best.
- Do not leave the room without a thank you, small curtsy or both to the teacher and accompanist. (This is very dependant on culture. Watch the other students.)
- No gum chewing.
- No jewelry.
- Water is the only drink allowed in class.
- You are responsible for reading notices, cast lists and keeping track of important dates and events.
The barre exercises will begin with knee-bends and extensions of the leg away from the body. At first, your toes will stay touching the floor, but as the exercises progress, the leg will be extended off the floor in increasing heights. You might also practice balancing on two legs and eventually on one.
After the barre exercises, students work on center practice. As a beginner, these exercises will be similar to the work performed at the barre and may also include small jumps. As you progress, turns will be added and jumps will increase in height and complexity.
Throughout the exercises, the teacher may call out corrections to the class. You are expected to listen and apply them. She may also direct her attention to an individual student and might use her hands to physically move the student’s body into the shape that’s needed. If you are that student, don’t get anxious. Just listen and try to put into practice what she is asking. If its your first day, this might happen quite a bit as the teacher works to get you to understand the steps.
For the last exercise, the teacher might guide the students through a slow bow or curtsy combination called reverance. Once class is over, all students should clap for the teacher as a thank you. They may also then thank the teacher individually with a curtsy. Watch the other students in the class and follow their lead on this. Some teachers do not prefer an individual curtsy and thank you because they need to get to another class and move on with the day.
Don’t be concerned at all if you did not understand a lot of the words used for the steps or if you were limited in what you could do. If you keep going to class, that will change quickly. This is my final post in this three-part series – All that is left is for you to go and take that first class!
Congratulations on trying something new and entering the beautiful world of strength and creativity that is ballet. Enjoy it and good luck!
You have selected a dance school and signed up for ballet lessons. Now its time to shop for your ballet clothes!
Your dance school should provide you with a dress code and a list of stores to purchase the items you need. Don’t go online to buy your first ballet clothes – you will need to try things on and get help selecting styles and sizes. You will need at least one basic leotard, a pair of pink tights, and a pair of pink ballet shoes. If you will be taking more than one class weekly, you may need another set or two of tights and a leotard. Depending on the dress code, you may also wish to purchase a basic short wrap skirt and some simple warm-ups or cover-ups for walking in the halls between classes or for warming up before class. So let’s talk about what to shop for.
Before we get started, be forewarned that you may feel a bit strange in a leotard and tights at first. They look and feel very different than street clothes! A question that new female dancers are often too shy to ask is: Should I wear underwear and a bra under a leotard and tights? Most dancers consider the tights to be the underwear and most leotards are made with a lining or shelf bra attached. (Wearing dancewear is very similar to wearing a bathing suit.) If you are not comfortable with this and prefer additional layers, there are many options available specifically for dance that you may choose from. Body Wrappers, Natalie and Capezio offer boyshorts, thongs, bikini cuts, bra tops, leotard-cut underliners and unitard-cut underlines. These are all designed in fabrics and colors that fit discreetly under leotards or costumes and that are moisture-wicking. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to wear streetwear underclothes with your dancewear. Street styles are way too bulky and noticeable, and they can trap moisture and heat that can cause, ahem, issues.
Now for the fun stuff. For your first pink tights, ask for a convertible foot. These tights have a slit on the bottom of the foot so they can be rolled up to the ankle. This is invaluable if you are planning to take other dance classes, like modern or jazz. I would recommend choosing Body Wrappers, Capezio, Gaynor Minden or Bloch tights. These brands offer various fabric choices, so ask the sales person to let you feel the different fabrics and help you choose the proper size.
For your ballet leotard, you should choose something simple in a comfortable fabric and cut. A short sleeve or tank version with a high back is usually best for your first leo to avoid feeling too revealed and to be able to wear a bra if you prefer or need to. Some good leotard brands are Mirella, Body Wrappers, Capezio, Bloch, Grishko, Freed, Sansha and Natalie.
Next your pink ballet shoes. Soft ballet shoes are made in satin, leather and canvas. If your dress code does not specify, try leather or canvas which are what most students wear. Ballet shoes should cover the toes, sides of the foot and heel. The sales person should help you find a size that does not bag around your foot but does not cramp your foot either. For advanced students, I like to see elastic criss-crossed from heel to arch, but on a beginner, I recommend just one elastic across the arch of the foot. Ask the sales person if they sell any shoes with elastic pre-sewn. Look for ballet shoe brands like Fuzi, Angelo Luzio, Capezio, Bloch, Sansha, Freed, Grishko and Principal.
Ballet shoes come in split-sole and full-sole. That refers to the leather pad on the bottom of the shoe. A full-sole shoe has a strip of leather in a footprint shape while a split sole has a pad on the ball of the foot and one on the heel. The idea is that a split-sole highlights and enhances the look of the foot’s arch while increasing ease of motion. It does, but note that a full-sole offers resistance on the arch that can be useful for pointe preparation.
Now to accessorize. Does your dress code allow for a short skirt? If so, make sure you know what colors are acceptable and if there is a minimum or maximum length. If the dress code just says “short”, look for a one-layer skirt no shorter than ten inches and no longer than fifteen. Basically, you want a length that covers the bottom of you leotard when you are standing still, maybe an inch or two longer if you like the look. The most common cut of a ballet skirt is a wrap style that you will cross in the front and tie in the back. If you don’t want that hassle, some pull-on styles are available. Look for delicate chiffon, georgette or tulle fabrics that flow when you move and swirl when you twirl!
Now for your warm-ups. Most teachers do not allow warm-ups during class, but they are great for protecting the muscles after class during cool down and between classes. They also protect against cold A/C. Some warm-ups double as cover-ups. Warm-up options are so numerous, I can’t possibly list them all, but some options include legwarmers, wrap tops, shrug tops, tunics, knit tights, warm-up dresses, knit skirts and shoulder wraps. Try on different styles to find what you like best.
At any age, it is really inappropriate to walk to or from the studio in nothing but a leo and tights. You should bring either a change of clothes or cover-up outfit to wear to and from the studio. A simple cotton dress that you can slip over the head works well for this, as does a sweatsuit.
If you have a gym bag, that should be suitable for your ballet gear. If not, you will definitely want to purchase a medium-sized bag that can fit a change of clothes, a water bottle, your purse and your ballet shoes and warm-ups.
Lastly, your hair. Most ballet schools require that females wear their hair pulled up off the face in a bun or french twist. You should can pick up hairpins, elastics, hairnets and anything else you need at a local drugstore or at the store where you purchase your dancewear.
You have everything you need for your first ballet lesson! Be sure to allow enough time before your class to change into your dancewear and style your hair. And get ready to enter an exciting world of art, emotion, strength and unparalleled beauty. In my next post, I’ll tell you what to expect during your first class!
If you are getting to an advanced stage in your training, chances are you have already worn or will soon wear a tutu. I’m not talking about those mass-made recital costumes that arrive crumpled up in plastic bags – I’m talking about a fully or partially handmade tutu carefully constructed with hoops, high-quality tulle and a corset-style basque and bodice. (Insert high-pitched squeal of girly joy!)
If you’ve been dancing for a while, you probably already know the basic tutu cuts. The romantic style is easy to spot because of its ankle or below-the-knee length in voluminous layers of soft net and tulle. The classical tutu usually refers to the pancake or platter style with its flattened shape that is hooped to stay straight out from the hip.
There are three common subcategories of the classical tutu. The original is the pancake described above. The Balanchine or Karinska tutu, also called a powderpuff, is obvious from its loosely tacked softer tulle or net that is shorter in length than the pancake and not hooped. The bell tutu is similar to the pancake, but bells slightly downward with no hoop and has more layers than a pancake style.
Practice or rehearsal versions are available in all the styles above, but are most common for pancake tutus. If you are purchasing a rehearsal tutu of any kind, it is best to spend more if you can to get a professional version because that will give you the versatility to alter it into a performance piece. Most professional tutu-makers make practice versions based on the same construction as their performance versions. Ordering from one of them is the easiest way to ensure you have a tutu you can use for practice and potentially for performance. This will require some careful measuring with the help of a friend and some patience for the creation of your tutu. Each maker can tell you the specifics of their ordering process and often has a page on their website devoted to this information.
Practice tutus are most versatile in white but much easier to keep clean-looking in black. Cleaning any tutu can be a difficult process. Chemical dry cleaning destroys their delicate frills, hoops can rust in water, and the delicate decorations and beading can be harmed by any cleaning method. Foregoing an overall cleaning in favor of spot cleaning and deordorizer (think Febreze) can be a good solution, though sweat and grime may eventually break down the fabric. Ideally, design the tutu as best you can so that embellishments can be removed for cleaning. This makes it much more versatile anyway.
If you need to go a less expensive route, there are some decent options out there. You’ve may have noticed that most discount dance suppliers have tutu sections, and those can be great resources. Try not to buy really cheap and ill-made tutus; that’s just throwing away money. Even if you can’t afford a pro-made tutu, you should still look for something with good quality tulle and a corset basque. Some decent practice tutus are made by Bloch, Star Styled, Body Wrappers, Main Street Dancewear, Sansha, Algy Performs, Wear Moi and Mondor. A few also sell bodice-style leotards that can be matched to the tutu for a very simple performance piece. Most of these styles are available through discount dancewear retailers.
Once you have your prized tutu, you should keep it in primo condition by storing it a proper tutu bag to protect it from crushing. Tutus should never be folded, but if you must, picking it up from the crotch and gently folding it upside down can minimize damage. If you pack it right-side-up, your tutu will flatten and the look will be ruined. Hanging tutus should be upside-down as well. Pancake tutus can be stored flat on a shelf provided they are not stacked one top of the other so that air can circulate.
Now that you are armed with the scoop on tutus and how and what to buy, here is a list of some of today’s best professional tutu makers for U.S. shoppers:
Skirts make ballet more fun, don’t you think? That’s exactly what I think when I see a 32 Fouettes skirt. They are nothing if not fun, girly, and perfect for dancing around.
Skirts by 32 Fouettes are unique because of the stretchy lace band around the waistline, which they say eliminates the annoyance of a wrap skirt’s self-tie. What’s most interesting about this skirt to me though is the variety of colors and patterns available. They also offer customizable lengths, flouncing and fabric combinations. These skirts would be lovely for variations and I’d be curious to see how they stand up to a partnering class.
In classic Balanchine style, this tank dress from Body Wrappers has clean lines and minimal fuss. The back is not too high or too low, and the attached skirt is just the right length for class or performance. Even the model here is sporting a Balanchine-esque pose.
Ideal for a variations or partnering class, this leo, P717, comes in four beautiful shades. Wear your bun high with this modern classic style and you’ll really be channeling the Balanchine ballerina.
When I was a young dancer, Discount Dance Supply was best mail-order company for dancewear. (No internet back then, kiddos!) They would special order styles, colors or sizes that didn’t appear in their catalog. Though they are still pretty good, they no longer provide special order service – If you want a special size or item you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Many excellent dancewear retailers have a wider selection and better service than DDS. If you still can’t find what you want, quite of few of them will special order, cut-to-order or dye-to-order your item. Some do not show up easily in Google though, so you kinda have to know where to look. Lucky for you, the CBT is in the know! Here’s the 411 on the best places to get the goods:
ADA Discount Dancewear
All 4 Dance
Amazon.com (For real – Just search for what you want in sports apparel!)
Back Bay Dancewear
Capezio Dancewear Shop
The Dancer’s Shop
DWC Dancewear Corner
Just For Kix
New York Dancewear
River’s Edge Dancewear
I have not included here the it-sites for costumes or for designer dancewear manufacturers who direct-sell on their site, but I’ll make separate posts for that eventually. Send me a message on the Contact the CBT page if you want to see that info sooner rather than later. Happy Shopping!