Read about what to wear to ballet class, why leotards are recommended and how to choose the right ballet leotard.
I never quite thought how this was important, until about a year later when I realized how much difference AND progress
I made due to what I wore in class.
Thinking of Buying Your First Ballet Leotard?
If you’ve taken ballet for more than 6 months, or are absolutely sure that this is something you want to pursue for a long time, then perhaps it is time to invest in a new leotard, if you haven’t already.
If you could buy just one leotard, buy a leotard that are these things:
First of all, the leotard allows you teacher to see your form easily. She can correct your s-shaped back, or your protruding ribs.
She can see if your hips are not level with with each other.
With a camisole or tank or short sleeves leotard, she can see (more easily than she would be able to if you were wearing a T-shirt) whether your shoulders are level with each other, if you’re raising your shoulders, or if they are hunched forward.
With a leotard that exposes your upper back, she can see if your upper back muscles are engaged, and whether you’re holding your arms from the back or just using your arms themselves (the former is correct).
It is easier to see if you’re pulling up correctly, not sinking backwards by arching your back.
Your ballet-cut or high cut leotard will allow your teacher to see if the legs are turned out correctly, from the hip and not the knees. Also, she can see if your inner muscles are engaged and whether your thighs are ‘flat’ when you’re holding your leg in a passé position.
With a fitting ballet leotard, she can see from your back and the way you hold your bottom in, on whether you’re standing in the correct ballet posture with a straight plumb line or sticking your ‘po-po’ out. She can see if you’re pelvis is held straight and not tilted. Your hips are supposed to be facing up – or frontal, not at an angle towards the floor.
If you’re not yet understand completely what I’m saying yet, don’t worry, just know that your choice of leotard enables your teacher to correct you more efficiently, thus you’ll be getting the most out of your class.
My story: How My Choice of Leotard Affected My Progress
When I started ballet, I went to class in a racer back top with a sports bra, black cropped stretchy pants and a pair of leather ballet slippers. I did that for about 3 months before buying my first leotard.
Unknowingly, I conclude that I did the right thing, as
my top was fairly fitting, allowing my ballet teacher to yell at me across the room, “Stomach in!”. That was one of my first major corrections which plagued me for a long time, and it took me about 1.5 years to correct. This is due to my flexibility issues, a weak core, and a general beginner’s process of learning the correct ballet stance and ballet posture.
See below on what to wear if you’re an absolute ballet beginner.
As I began to learn the right ballet techniques, I began to lose weight, become fitter and stronger, which led me to have courage to buy my first leotard.
It was a black camisole cotton-lycra Bloch leotard which cost $50 AUD, and I bought it on a visit to my brother in Melbourne. Now I realize that I could get many other leotards for cheaper or more expensive – both which are fabulous! Have you seen our affiliated online shop with free international shipping? yet?
The leotard has since been worn out. It has little fabric balls, it has faded, the slips have been adjusted twice and they are still loose and most of all, it has started to smell. Nevertheless, I remember it fondly.
I remember trying leotards out in the fitting room and feeling annoyed at how fat I look. I didn’t like how the cheeks of my bottom were squeezing out. I was also irritated by how the straps tugged at my shoulders. Finally, I settled for the Bloch leotard.
Ballet Skirts – Not Recommended
Other than purchasing my tights, a ballet shoe key chain at the store…I got excited about something else. A ballet skirt!
Oh, they were presented in an array of colours at the Bloch store and I was addicted! However, because they were expensive, I only bought one. It was a navy one and I wore it all the time with my black leotard. My other adult ballet dancer friends also liked it so much a bunch of them bought the same one as me! It was a difficult operation as it seemed only available in australia or on online stores in the USA. But someone would travel and soon we started to have these ballet skirts also in black, white, pink etc.
I continued to wear ballet skirts for another half a year, because I was conscious of letting my bottom and tummy show.
Later on, I switched ballet studios to one which had one of the best classical trained teachers in the country.. She danced for many years as a Principal dancer and was moved on to coaching and training semi-professional students, then had opened her own studio.
At that studio, the students were all serious and nobody wore skirts. I therefore had to learn to ditch my pretty ballet skirts and brave the class in just leotards and tights. Oh but that changed my life!
Looking back, I wouldn’t have gotten the corrections and know what I know today if I had continued to wear that ballet skirt. Sure it looks pretty, but your dancing won’t progress to be prettier if the teacher can’t see your waist below.
When I ditched my skirt in my other classes, my previous teachers began to give me new corrections (and harp on them too) that they’ve never given before. I’ve realized that there was so much that I had been doing wrong but wasn’t told, because my teachers couldn’t see it!
Without knowing your problems, you can’t fix it and that just hinders your rate of progress.
So whenever I see young students in classes wearing T-shirts over their leotards, I feel like telling them to take them off. That’s because they can train a whole year of ballet but the teacher can’t see exactly how you’re standing. These youths take RAD exams and during exams period, when they have to do extra training and wear the examination leotard, they’ll start to panic because now you’ll have a host of problems to correct so close to the exams! And you can’t wear a T-shirt during RAD exams. In fact, your examination leotard would have been precisely what I’ve recommended: Camisole leotard, scoop front neckline, mid-to-low back, ballet-cut leg.
Of course, I have a big wardrobe of ballet skirts, but I save them for open classes with adult ballet dancer friends where ballet class is more like an social activity.
In many adult open classes, the teacher might not put in a lot of effort to correct you especially if they’re not yet familiar with you, because they don’t know if you’re going to come back.
Teachers save energy by only investing in the serious ones. So sometimes I don’t expect lots of corrections with unfamiliar teachers and I just take this chance to wear my skirts. Of course I’m also losing out my own corrections, because I can’t see myself clearly in the mirror. But sometimes you just want to look pretty! Haha.
Ballet Tights – Pink is Recommended
I know most adults prefer to wear black tights. It is more slimming and flattering.
However, with pink tights, your teacher can see how your muscles are working and whether they are the right ones or not. They also can see whether you are straightening or pulling up your knees.
I know this from personal experience. I once had a teacher who would slap my knees all the time and give me lots of flak
because they were not straight and I’m not pointing with maximum energy.
I changed strategies and wore black tights to class and he didn’t give me flak at all because they looked okay, or he can’t see. What a big difference! I giggled and felt awesome that I didn’t get as much scolding for that class. I quickly realized my folly and only wear pink tights now to serious classes.
Through my other teacher who is also as technical, I’m now able to see other people’s muscles through pink tights and how they’re working correctly or not.
I’ve realized that I’m unable to see through those who wear black tights.
Thus black tights are for those who have trained for more than 10 years!
If you decided that you don’t want to wear a leotard, please read below on my recommendations.
If I Don’t Ever Want To Wear A Leotard?
What To Wear to Ballet Class (if leotards are not an option)
If you don’t want to wear a leotard, wear a tight-fitting top, ideally a camisole top with an in-built bra support. The back of the camisole should be fairly open, ideally low enough to just cover the bra line.
This is to let your teacher correct you if you’re not engaging your back muscles. In the front, the top part of your chest should be exposed, allowing your teacher to see if you’re pulling up your chest correctly and not by arching your back.
Otherwise, wear a tight fit camisole top with a suitable sports bra that does not cover your upper back.
For bottoms, I would recommend tight fitting yoga cropped long shorts – preferably with your knees showing.
ideally, you should wear pink ballet tights with a tight fitting shorts – this enables your teacher to check your knees, turn out and
the right muscles that should be working.
For ballet shoes, you can
wear socks if you’re absolute beginner, instead of buying a pair of ballet slippers. When you buy some ballet slippers, buy the canvas ones
with a full sole. I’ll explain this another time.
I know this sounds incredibly bare for anyone who is not used to wearing tight fitting clothes, but I’ll just say this
is the best you can do for yourself – otherwise you could possibly waste 3-6 months of money for lessons and all your time and effort you
have spent to get to class.
Why? Because the ballet stance, or ballet posture is the foundation of learning ballet. Simply put, if the teacher
can’t see how you’re standing, you can mimic the moves but you’re not quite learning it correctly.
Many adult ballet beginners mimic how professional and advanced ballet students dress (a concoction of all sorts of weird things) –
however, it is not recommended.
Many adult ballet beginner books recommend a T-shirt over yoga pants – I suppose they understand that many adult ballet beginners
simply want to learn as a hobby and appreciate ballet – rather than advancing to the best that they can be.
So in conclusion, if you’re just checking ballet out and want to try to get the most out of your time, money and effort, wear some
flexible clothing which allows you to bend and stretch, and as tight fitting as possible so that your ballet teacher
will be able to see your waist, bottom (as you advance, you’ll later realize why), your chest and your upper back.