An Intro to Men’s Ballet Apparel

by David on September 10, 2009

Part One of the Men’s Dancewear Tutorials

Over the next few posts I’m going to provide everything a male dancer would need to know about the different articles of ballet apparel.  The main things I’m going to cover are tights, the dance belt, ballet slippers, and leotards, shirts, and tops.  I will be starting off with tights because that is probably the first thing that comes to the average person’s mind when they think of men and ballet – men in tights.

I want to make a few disclaimers about apparel.  First of all, any of this stuff can feel weird at first.  But there is a reason for you to wear it, and you eventually get used to it.  Ballet attire allows teachers to view the specific muscles that you need to be working on in order to properly learn ballet technique.  It is also designed to avoid limiting your movement in any way.  Be proud that your body will eventually/already does move in ways that regular clothes won’t permit!  Once you are used to ballet attire, dancing in anything else will feel unnatural.

Second disclaimer, if your studio has a dress code, go by that.  Dress codes usually only vary by shirt or shoe color, but it may also specify the style of tights or even socks.  Most places may not be that strict, especially for new beginners, but some places like to have their dancers very properly dressed.  Be sure to respect a studio’s dress code.  An example of a typical dress code might be a white shirt, black tights, white socks, and white ballet slippers.

For this introduction, I will just briefly introduce the main parts of male ballet attire, and then in the next posts I will go into great detail, giving you everything you will need to know to be confident you look good and are dressed proper.

TIGHTS

Visit the Tights Tutorial HERE.

Men’s tights are different from women’s tights and don’t let anyone tell you different.  I’ve had a few small stores tell me that there is no difference, only to end up with a pair of tights that are almost see through.  Men’s tights are thicker, and it is a good thing because leg hair under tights is quite gross looking.

The default color of tights is black.  There are many different colors of tights that are used for performances, or when a dancer just wants to wear something different.

DANCE BELT

Click Here for picture link (underwear picture not suitable for public viewing).

Visit the Dance Belt Tutorial Here.

This is probably both the most confusing and most important part of a man’s ballet attire.  It is called a dance belt, but it is really just a sturdy thong.  It is worn beneath your tights.  No man should ever wear tights without a dance belt.  You know how in tights you are supposed to see the leg muscles and definition?  Well the dance belt keeps everyone from seeing the definition of your crotch.  Wearing a thong is worth it to avoid that.

There are dance belts in full back (not thongs), but they are pretty much for younger boys.  You don’t want to dance around with panty lines in your tights, it would look really weird.  A dance belt feels extremely odd at first.  I won’t try to describe how it feels, you can find out for yourself.  But it takes about 2 hours to get used to it.  The dance belt provides a lot of support for your manhood, and that becomes extremely valuable in ballet.

BALLET SLIPPERS

I remember when I bought my first pair of ballet slippers.  I had no idea how to sew the elastics on.  I laugh when I look at them now, sewn all crazy.  I’ll go over how to do this properly.  Ballet slippers are light shoes made of either canvas or leather and have thin leather soles.  They are often referred to as ballet flats, as opposed to pointe shoes.  Pointe shoes are the shoes that dancers wear when they dance on their toes.  Classically, men don’t dance on their toes (en pointe), but there are a lot of men that do practice it.  Pointe is quite advanced, so you don’t need to worry about pointe shoes for a while, if ever, just know you don’t need them.  Regular ballet slippers are what you’ll use.

LEOTARDS, SHIRTS, AND TOPS

Leotards are like shirts that join together under your crotch.  Kind of like a woman’s one-piece bathing suit.  This is so that the shirt doesn’t ride up and come untucked.  I prefer to wear a t-shirt or tank top, and I pretty much always do.  I’ll go over ways of keeping a shirt tucked in without having to wear a leotard.

As I said, in the next posts I will go into much more depth about each of these pieces of apparel.  I will explain how to buy them, wear them, wash them, and more.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 rahul derick mall October 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

I love ballet & i want to learn more ……… but in India there are very less people who knows ballet dance ……
plese tell me from where i’ll learn

2 L April 1, 2011 at 6:21 am

Bravo on a much-needed site! I am a small-town costumer, working with a studio owner who danced with some major companies (Balanchine, for one). She can explain the heck out of the women’s garments, but for a lot of the men’s stuff I’m making it up as i go along. Just found your site and I’m thrilled. Thank you!

3 Chewy October 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm

This is brilliant. I took ballet through out high school, but was unfortunately not able to progress very far due to health. But I am clear to begin again and can not wait.

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