Much like an academic school, a ballet school usually requires its students to have their own set of supplies to take ballet classes, such as proper attire and accessories. While every school may have a few specific requirements, there are some general things that ballet students need for ballet class. In this article, aimed for first timers, parents and beginners, we’ll go over what is considered the essential supplies for students taking a ballet class. Let’s take a look!
Ballet Class Attire
Proper attire for ballet class is very important. Almost every school will require students taking ballet classes to dress properly so the teacher can see if a student is properly executing a movement, step or position. Ballet is all about the details and the attire, or ballet class uniform, is one of those details.
Ballet shoes may be the most important thing for ballet class! Ballet shoes (also called ballet flats, ballet slippers or soft ballet shoes) allow a dancer to move safely on the floor and keep their feet from sticking or slipping.
Sometimes schools may require a certain brand, though most will not. Most shoes also come with elastics, which should be sewn on each side, about an inch from the heel, so the shoe will not slip off. Be sure to tie the elastic drawstrings as well and also tucking them under the top of the shoe.
Girls will almost always need pink ballet slippers, while boys will need black or white (depending on if they are required to also wear white socks). You may need pointe shoes, but only if you are actually taking pointe classes! Do not buy a pair for your daughter or yourself and try things on your own without proper supervision from a good teacher.
Girls taking ballet will likely be required to a wear a leotard. A leotard is a type of dance clothing that looks like a single piece bathing suit. They are often made out of cotton mixes, but are also offered in more stretchy materials like lycra and spandex.
Before you go ahead and make a purchase, check in with the school to see if a certain brand, style, and color is required as part of the uniform. Teachers like to have students in same brand and style leotards because there is less concentration on the “fashion” of clothing and more on what the dancer is actually doing. Having students in a uniform also helps provide a more disciplined atmosphere.
For male dancers, most schools require a fitted white shirt. There are leotards designed for males, but they are not usually required.
Tights are another essential piece for ballet class for a couple reasons. First, they provide a dancer with a more consistent look along their legs and down into their shoes. This makes it easier for the teacher to see a dancer’s line. Given some of the positions in ballet, many dancer’s simply feel more comfortable wearing tights. Usually girls are required to wear pink, footed tights that are specifically from a ballet clothing maker.
For boys or men, tights are a must as well, unless the school allows the younger boys to wear shorts. Usually they are required to wear black footed tights, to provide a nice contrast to a white tee shirt.
Ballet Class Accessories
Now that you’ve got your class attire, you may need a few more things! We’ll call these ballet class accessories, and they include warmups, bags, and things for hair.
It’s always a good idea to arrive a little early to stretch and warmup before ballet class. Warmups can help get your warmer quicker especially if the place you’re stretching or the studios are a bit cold. Warmups include clothing like sweat pants, knit leg warmers, feet booties or slippers and sweat shirts or body wraps.
There’s a huge variety of ballet warmups out there and this is where you can be more creative since most schools don’t allow students to wear warmups; they’ll be worn before or after class. This makes it perfectly fine to buy warmups that aren’t necessarily meant for ballet. You can head to your local department store and buy a pair of sweat pants, or your favorite sports store and buy some yoga pants and a sweatshirt. It’s really up to you, again, because you won’t wear them for the actual class.
Sometimes, students are allowed to wear warmups, and this is when you will usually want to buy from a brand that designs for ballet dancers. If a student is allowed, there may be guidelines to follow. For example, a student may be allowed to wear leg warmers if her calf is hurting, but they may need to be pink in order to match the tights and not cause a break in the visual line and appearance. Or a student may be allowed to wear a black top wrap because it blends in with the school’s black leotard uniform. These rules will vary depending on your school, some taking a strict approach, while others take a more relaxed approach.
It is very important to wear plain clothes or warmups to and from a ballet studio. This is often disregarded by parents of younger children. Simply put, don’t put your child in tights, leotard, and ballet slippers and then let them walk around in public, even if you’re going straight to the school. Many schools (though it should be mandatory at every school) require students be appropriately dressed when entering and leaving the studios.
A Dance Bag
A dance bag is great for keeping track of your dance clothes, warmups, shoes and accessories. A decent sized bag will allow you to easily carry extra warmups, shoes, tights and anything else you may need for ballet class or rehearsal.
It may seem obvious, but its a good idea to buy a medium to large sized bag to make sure everything can fit once you get to the studio. This may mean putting your street clothes and shoes inside to keep everything neat and organized. Some prefer to carry backpacks, while others gym bags.
Accessories for Hair
Most schools will require female ballet students to have their hair properly done up into a “ballet bun.” This allows teachers to have a clear view at positions a dancer makes with their neck and head. It also becomes less distracting for the dancer herself, since her hair won’t be flipping around in turns or falling in front of the face in jumps.
Most female students will need a rubber band, a hair net, and bobby pins to make a proper ballet bun. It’s also good to have many on backup and in your ballet bag should any break as you’re getting ready or fall out in the middle of class.
For male students, it is just expected their hair be neatly groomed and out of their faces.
Where to Buy Ballet School Supplies
Most people will have a few options when it comes to buying attire and accessories for ballet school. Many towns and cities may have local ballet shops. You can also find a great online ballet store to do your shopping.
Visiting and purchasing at a local store can give you confidence of size, especially when it involves trying on shoes. Keep in mind though, that many stores, including online ballet shops, will have a strict return policy. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to try out a pair of ballet slippers for a few classes and then return them because you didn’t like the feel or how they looked.
Purchasing online usually has the benefit of cheaper pricing and possibly better discounts. This is definitely a good option if you live far away from the nearest ballet shop.
Why are there Guidelines on Ballet Class Attire?
As you may have figured out from reading above, there are several reasons why there are guidelines for what you need for a ballet class.
- Safety: without proper shoes, your feet may be too sticky or slippery on the floor
- Corrections: if you are wearing distracting attire or don’t have your hair properly secured, it becomes more difficult for a teacher to see mistakes and offer useful corrections to improve your technique
- Discipline: One of the great things about ballet is the discipline you learn, and dressing and presenting yourself properly is part of that
More Essentials for Advanced Ballet Students
For more advanced students, there will be even more essentials. These include pointe shoes and accessories, rollers and therapy bands. We’ll cover this more in another post soon!