Boys' Ballet Costumes: Garments


Figure 1.--These European boys wear white shirts, both "T"-shirts and tank tops, with black tights and white soft dancing shoes. Note the boys wear both footed and foot-less tights.

The principal balet garment are tights, but there are many others such as toe shoes, leotards, and other garments. These garments are worn for both practice and performances. Boys, at least boys in America and Britain are often shy about wearing these garments. It is not such an kissue in many other countries. There are significant differences between countries as what the boys tend to wear for practive. Performance costumes are more standardized. The garments are designed to allow the maximum of free mobility while preserving modesty. These garments such as tights have been standard wear since the modern ballet first appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries. Besides the garments actually worn, parodies of boys are sometimes made by outfitting them in girl's ballet garments.

Tights

Tights or garments looking like have been worn for centuries. Ove most of this era they were worn by adults, mostly men, and not children. They fell from style in the late 16th century as men began wearing knee breeches. They appeared again in the 19th century for specialized wear such as theatricals and athletics. They did not become coomonly worn children's clothes until after World War II in the late 1940s and early 50s. Children wore over the knee stockings in the early 20th century, but these were usually stockings and not tights. Conventions for wearing tights have varied from country to country. Very young boys might wear tights in America and England, but they were mostly worn by girls. In coninental Europe and Japan it was more common for boys to wear them.

Shirts

Boys wear quite a variety of shirts and blouses for both practices and performances. Some boys wear leotards, but shirts and blouses are more common. "T"-shirts, usually white, are commonly worn for practice. Some American schools insist on leotards, but most allow the boys to wear short-sleeved "T" shirts. Leotards are more common in Europe, but some European boys also wear "T"-shirts, often sleevless tank-top shirts, like "T'-shirts usually white. Some boys wear reguklar "T"-shirts. More formal schools have boys wear "T"-shirts with especially large neck openings. These are particularly common in European schools. A white variety of shirts or blouses are worn for performances. One common standard is a blouce with flouncy sleeves. Unlike the form fitting tights, the performance shirts and blouces are quite often just the opposite with long flowing sleeves.

Leotards

Leotards are close fitting sleevless garments with low necks. Girls usually wear them with or without tights for practice. Boys also wear, but in American the more common convention is to wear "T"-shirts.

Unitards

Unitards are one piece body suits. They are like having a leotard and tights sewn together. One dancer explains to HBC, "I wear unitards to my ballet classes because I got tired of my tights sliding down my legs during class. Wearing a nice lycra spandex unitard for ballet is wonderful. It certainly looks and feel better than tights."


Figure 2.--Boys mostly wear either white or black ballet schools. Usually the school will select the color.

Ballet Shoes

Boys wear soft ballet slippers to dance, usually either black or white. Girls also commonly wear pink dance shoes, but never the boys. They also wear toe-shoes, although this is more common for the girls. A toe shoe is a heel-less damce slipper fitted with a boxed toe to enable the dancer to toe dance. The toe dancing is more common for the female than the male dancer. Some modern dance is done barefoot, but classical dance is always done with proper ballet shoes.






Christopher Wagner





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Created: July 27, 2000
Last updated: August 5, 2000