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Everything you need to know about costumes in dancing

14 january 2019

Everything you need to know about costumes in dancing

Dance costume is a specialised field that has to reflect the overall concept of the body movement, work; demands of the choreography and the effects of different garments in motion have to be taken into consideration. Costumes may be an adaptation of the daily dresses people wear. Costumes should follow the requirements or the traditions of a particular dancing technique. Costumes should allow maximum freedom of movement, and it is essential to take care when placing the decoration on the costume because it can alter the real meaning of the costume.

The tutu

Tutu derives from the French slang popular among children. It came to be applied to costumes. Tutu was initially a bell-shaped skirt that had layers of tulle. It was adapted from flimsy ball dress in that was popular in the 1830s. It then became the uniform for spirit roles such as Wils in Les Sylphides. The style was later adapted from a variety of costumes. The skirts of the tutu became shorter to show the increasing virtuosity of dancers such as turns. By the end of the century, the costume was cut above the knee. This further evolved into the classical tutu. The classical tutu was a horizontal plate that extended from the lower hips. The top skirt was supported by layers of graduated frills and was sewn into integral knickers. It was then attached to the hip basque.

Body tights

Body tights are essential for most dancers across the world, and they can be bought from costume companies online. Body tights were initially worn by dance acts over 100 years ago. There was special fabric used to make body tights back then, and the fabric tended to cease. The development of modern elastic fabric emerged, and it was mostly used for sports-wear.

Body tights allow maximum movement for dancers. The body of the dancer becomes a canvas, and the designer uses it to create fantastic patterns and shapes. Different elastic materials have different stretch thus great skill is needed to transfer the patterns of the fabric onto the body. When choosing body tights, it is important to choose tights that don’t fade colour because fading can alter the whole concept of the costume. Costumes should be very simple to allow them (the costumes) to become part of the movement.


The Nocturne was set in Paris in the 1890s. The first sight of this design was a variation on conventional ball dresses. The Nocturne is a costume for dancing that has a squire neck. It has the vestigial leg of mutton sleeves. The costume conveys an impression of a poor flower seller. It has subtle low grey key and whites that help to set the dancer apart. The skirt has an opaque top layer over the underskirt. The underskirt is a net.


Your dance costume should be designed to suit the specific purpose. There are a lot of costumes available, so if you don’t have the time to design your costume, you can buy a readymade costume to suit your purpose.