Understanding Dancewear

Dancewear is the clothing worn during the process and includes a wide range of costumes and designs. The variety in designs is due to a large number of dance forms. The types of dance forms that were traditionally catered to include ballet, urban dance and tap dancing. Modern dancewear has evolved to include more performers like pop stars and acrobats. This means every piece of clothing, from girls dance shoes to show outfits come under dancewear.

Designing Dancewear

The performers might overlook the effort that goes into designing dancewear. Lots of time and effort is spent on intricate details to complement the dance it’s crafted for. One can even say that the designers and producers of such clothing directly contribute to the dance form through innovations in design.

Fabric is the main element in creating new designs or products. Any new designs require a ‘forecasting’ of about 2 years which starts with deciding the fabric. The latest trends and developments in fashion are taken into consideration when doing so. Factors like feel and freedom of movement are very important as they affect the dancer’s performance. Soft fabrics are the way to go while designing dancewear.

The stretch of the fabric is one other important aspect that is related to the artists. The material should account for a certain level of stretch and come back to its original shape.

After the design is fixed, then comes the testing phase. During testing, samples of the new design are given to various performers at multiple studios. Their feedback helps companies alter the design based on the artist’s needs. Once the design is altered, it rolls straight into production.

Some common articles of dancewear include

Ballet Shoes – Also known as ballet slippers, they are probably the most common girls dance shoes. They are soft and lightweight and come in bright colours. These were in use before the pointe shoes came along as they allowed the performer to stand on their toes. Ballet shoes were used to train rookie dancers to stand on their toes, after which they graduated to pointe shoes.

Pointe Shoes – Also known as toe shoes, these are worn by female ballet dancers. Ballet dancers use these shoes to stand on the tip of their toes. This requires a great amount of skill and practice. Male dancers also use these occasionally.

Tap Shoes – As the name suggests, these shoes are used for tap dancing. Tap dancing involves rhythmic and percussive footwork, which originates from North America. These shoes actually have small metal plates on the heel and toe ends to amplify the sounds on the dance floor. These shoes can also be considered musical instruments due to their percussive ability.

Tights – While tights are used for various activities involving physical strain, they are also a part of dancewear. They are light and usually have skin fits. The fabric allows a great level of stretching, making it optimal for dancers. They also accentuate the legs and are used in a variety of forms. They might come with stirrups to prevent them from rolling up.

Leotards – Leotards have a one-piece design and cover the upper body. They also come in skin fit and are often paired with tights. Leotards come in all sleeve options – long, short, and sleeveless. It was designed by a French acrobat and was also used as public garments.

Designers and dancers over the years have made thoughtful contributions through each new design. Dancewear has evolved from basic designs to articles that support dance forms and push the limits of presentation.

Author:  Alison Lurie