By Jessica Rizzo-Stafford, Editor in Chief of Dance Teacher Web Blog. www.jrizzo.net
So….I’m old-school. I think devoted Dance Teacher Web blog readers have gotten that by now. I’m old-school in terms of my expectations of in-studio class etiquette, my expectations for dress code, my whole teaching philosophy really. Bottom line-I believe when you are in a dance class, whether it be professional or recreational, you dress like a dancer. If you were a firefighter or a police officer you’d wear the uniform, if you were are a surgeon or a nurse, you’d wear scrubs, if you were a business person you’d wear a suit….heck, if you were a scuba diver you’d wear a wet suit!….So why is this any different for dancers?
Well….I’m going to tell you why, specifically on the issue of wearing tights to class, particularly ballet class…….2 reasons….#1 Young dancers that have been watching bare legged beauties on shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with The Stars, etc. have been setting a trend which has now trickled down to our darling little dancers. And #2….I can’t tell you how many conventions I have taught or studios I‘ve visited to set works where teachers and studio owners DO NOT require their dancers to wear tights for class. For me, this is something to look at for a number of reasons. Hopefully it will make teachers (and students) pause and consider the importance of wearing tights to class. Food For thought!
- Aesthetics: Tights, (particularly in ballet class) are pleasing to the eye. They create beautiful, long lines, define leg muscles, demonstrate body shape and footwork and create uniformity in the class or onstage. Onstage, lights also cast shadows off of tights, thereby showcasing the muscles of the leg.
- Circulation: Now, when I was a “serious” modern dancer in college in the 90’s, having broken-free from a life solely of ballet classes and was allowed to dance barefoot and wear palazzo pants for the first time, there was no turning back…. so I get the appeal. Believe me. But now, fast forward 20 years later and those little spider veins and broken capillaries along the side of my thighs I still account for years of jumping, leaping and the impact from floor work due to not having those tights on for support. Tight helps the oxygen flow to the muscles and help with circulation. It also helps the muscles warm-up and recover at the end of class or rehearsal. They are a form of compression, therefore minimizing the chance or spider veins or broken blood vessels and supporting all parts of the stomach, thighs, buttocks, legs, etc.
- Uniformity: When everyone is in the same clean, footed pink tight and ballet slipper this gives teachers the opportunity help detect and correct during class or rehearsal, thereby facilitating assessment and class and individual improvement.
- Tradition: From the earliest of days, in all professional companies, dancers wear tights. It’s practical and is a long standing tradition within the dance form and should be respected as such so that generations continue to understand the relevance and importance of dance history and etiquette.
See you in the dance studio…