Ballet Class Dress Code

Why is there a dress code for ballet class?

It’s a question that teachers get asked all the time! From what I’ve seen around dance forums, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to have students in a dress code. But there is so much that can be benefited from a dress code in ballet class. 

Most of the time when this question is asked, the dancer is being required to wear a leotard and tights. Very straightforward, leotards and tights are made to enable movement to be easily obtained (thanks spandex!) as opposed to non stretch materials. With a leotard and tights, extra fabric can’t be caught on other dancers, the barre, or whatever might be in the dance studio space. 

More to the point, a leotard and tights help teachers see the fine details of ballet technique and where we can help the dancer to grow into their strengths. It’s hard to see fine motor movements when wearing baggy layers of clothing. 

Maybe a more subtle reason is the discipline it develops to wear a clean uniform to class. Not only are dancers being asked to show up consistently at a certain time/s each week, but they are being asked to walk into the studio mentally prepared when they’ve prepared and put on the expected leotard and tights. Yes, a ballet leotard and tights can be uncomfortable at first. It makes us step into an even more vulnerable space than the dance studio already is. In this alongside a healthy environment, wearing a leotard and tights can build confidence and self trust in these beautiful dancers that walk into the studio.

Having a dancer in a certain dress code of basic leotard and tights can be likened to a blank canvas. Imagine an artist sitting down to paint a beautiful masterpiece. The black canvas of a ballet dress code allows the strengths of individual dancers to shine as opposed to hiding under a lot of extra and distracting clothing. 

Having a dress code for ballet class goes beyond tradition, even though that might be what’s spouted in an argument against dress code. I’m also not a fan of a required dress code response being ‘because I said so.’ Especially for younger dancers, having something that is expected for them to wear can set the tone for being enough with showing up as completely themselves no other style expectations. Reminding dancers they have something to say, not just the stuff they wear. The simple ritual of wearing leotard and tights to ballet class helps teachers bring out the best in their dancers.

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