My Child is Starting Ballet…What Do I Need?
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
So you have signed up your child for ballet classes, and now you need to know what to buy. Shoes? Leotards? Tights? Tutus? Pointe shoes? Legwarmers? There are infinite products out there, so let this serve as a guide for what your ballet child will really need, even with some suggestions available to purchase right here on the Capezio website!
WHAT TO WEAR
Children may start ballet as early as two years of age. "At this age, basic motor skills of ballet are taught, preparing the student for the discipline of ballet to come," says Carol Baskinger, director of Dance Designs Studio, a center for dance and performing arts in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
At this age, girl ballet students should wear a leotard (check with your studio; there could be a color dress code), pink tights and pink ballet slippers. Boys usually need black or white ballet slippers, a white t-shirt and black leggings. Sometimes, at that age, the class is ballet and tap/jazz combined, which would also require tap or jazz shoes, so be sure you know for which class your child is signed up. In this case, however, only a change of shoes, not full attire, would be needed.
Baskinger says that shoes and proper attire should be purchased at a professional dancewear shop or through a professional online dancewear company, such as Capezio.
The young dancers' ballet slippers should be full-sole leather ballet shoes, such as Capezio's Teknik® Ballet Slipper or Daisy® Ballet Slipper which are both comfortable and durable children’s shoes. A young child should have his/her slippers half a size larger than their street shoe in order to allow for growth, but no larger than this.
After class, students should store their slippers in a cloth bag for ventilation so the leather can breathe and remain supple. Here is Capezio’s small Drawstring Backpack, available in multiple colors and a perfect size for ballet slippers.
"These slippers should never be worn outdoors," Baskinger adds. "They are strictly for studio use. All dance shoes should only be worn in the studio, so that the studio is respected and kept clean for other dance classes. The dirt and rough surface of the outdoors may tear apart a leather ballet slipper."
Baskinger recommends parents buy a couple of leotards. Capezio’s Children's Long Sleeve Leotard is great for the winter months and is available in numerous colors. Capezio’s Children's Camisole Leotard with Adjustable Straps is a sure-fit for any size and is good to wear in warmer months, as is the Children's Short Sleeve Leotard, which also comes in many colors.
Again, check with your child's ballet teacher or the studio director in case of a color-specific dress code.
Tights should be pink for ballet class and generally should be worn under the leotard and fully-footed in the ballet slippers. Baskinger recommends Capezio's Toddler Ultra Soft Footed Tights because they are very comfortable for the child. "A comfortable dancer is a happy dancer," she says.
Ballet students should have their hair neatly pulled back, and, if possible, in a bun. Capezio sells a convenient product, the Bun Builder™, Jr., which is a reusable way to create a perfect ballet bun.
Ballet is for boys, too! Young boy dancers are usually encouraged to wear black leggings, such as Capezio’s Children's Low Rise Leggings, a white crew neck t-shirt and black ballet slippers. Capezio’s leather, full-sole Children's Teknik® Ballet Slippers also come in white and black, depending on your studio’s dress preferences. If boys have longer hair, it should be pulled back for ballet class.
Often times, the excitement of beginning ballet classes leads the young dancers or parents to believe they need everything involved with being a professional ballerina – a tutu, pointe shoes, legwarmers. So what is and isn't necessary for young dancers?
Children new to ballet certainly do not need pointe shoes. "Pointe is taught to more advanced, mature dancers, not a toddler or even an eight-year-old," Baskinger says. "Students are selected for pointe when, after careful evaluation, we feel the student has the strength to begin learning the basics."
A tutu usually isn't necessary either. They are usually reserved for the stage. Tutus and "extra layers" may get in the way of the teacher seeing and being able to correct the dancer’s body in the classroom. Simple skirts may be allowed though, and young dancers like to feel pretty in a dance skirt. A pull on circular skirt or chiffon wrap skirt can make a nice addition to your young dancer’s outfit.
Sometimes, in the colder months, young dancers may be allowed to wear legwarmers or a ballet sweater to keep warm. Again, it is best to check with your studio's dress code and regulations. For legwarmers, try Capezio’s Children's 12-inch Legwarmers. Capezio also sells lovely, simple children's ballet sweaters: the Crop Tie Wrap Top or the Long Sleeve Wrap Sweater.
ASK THE STUDIO
When your child steps into his/her first ballet class, you want to be sure he/she is prepared and comfortable, so before making new purchases, it is best to check with your studio as to its dress code. Perhaps one level at that studio wears navy blue leotards while another wears pink leotards. Double-check your child’s level.
Most importantly, know that putting your child in ballet is a good decision, even regardless of a dance future. Ballet can teach children not only about dance but also help them with socialization skills. “Ballet is a must!” Baskinger concludes. “It is the basic of all genres of dance. It develops posture, strength, proper alignment, discipline, agility and musicality. Good training will stay with them a lifetime.”