Choosing a Leotard for Dance by Kimberley Berkin, PDE Dance Supplies Dance Blog
Choosing A Leotard for Dance by Kimberley Berkin
When it comes to choosing a leotard there are a number of things that you should be thinking about. With so much choice on offer it can sometimes be difficult to decide which style, colour or material to go for.
I hope this blog helps to highlight a few things for you to think about when choosing your next leotard for dance…
The style of the leotard should accentuate your features and body shape but at the same time be practical and comfortable to dance in. Start by deciding on the neck line and straps of the leotard. Camisole leotards have a very classical look and the thin straps don’t interfere with the natural line of the upper body. Boat-neck style leotards are ideal for dancers with longer necks and halter neck leotards can focus attention to the upper body. When you are looking at the front of the leotard make sure that it is not going to come down too low across the front of your chest. There is nothing worse than watching a student constantly lifting up the front of their leotard because it is too low.
Choosing a leotard with an interesting back can be a nice way of adding some individuality to your choice of leotard but make sure it doesn’t hinder your performance in any way! Some leotard designs have a very low back, which often looks lovely on photographs but a very low back on a leotard can sometimes make the material gather on the side, especially in a forward and side port de bras.
You should also look at the leg line of the leotard - some students prefer a high leg style to their leotard, which can accentuate the length of the leg but make sure that it fits properly over your bottom as you don’t want to spend your whole class pulling down the leotard! Low leg leotards can also be very flattering around the lower body and perhaps a more suitable choice for younger students.
It is important that your leotard is practical and again you want to think about your body shape when considering this. For example if you have a larger bust size then you must make sure that your leotard is going to support you correctly. This is not just for your confidence and comfort when dancing but it is a safety issue as well. Most ‘strappy’ leotards come with an internal crop top style bra that is designed to be moderately supportive. If you know that you should be wearing a proper sports bra for your ballet classes then make sure that your choice of leotard will accommodate this and that the straps will be hidden under the leotard or that the sports bra and leotard compliment each other.
When it comes to colour think about what you will be wearing the leotard for. I would imagine that you are choosing a leotard that you will want to wear for your ballet classes, in which case it is a good idea to choose a leotard that is one colour, especially if you are intending to wear the leotard for an audition.
From a teacher’s perspective it is much easier to see a dancer’s classical line if they are wearing something that is just one colour. For many dance auditions the preferred attire is usually specified and more often than not this will be a black leotard. Wearing black gives you a classic, professional look so I would recommend having a black leotard in your collection.
If you want to choose a leotard in a colour other than black then think about your skin tone and how this will look next to the colour of the leotard. Much like when you are shopping for clothes, you tend to steer clear of clothes that make you appear pale or that clash with everything else in your wardrobe and the same thing applies when choosing your leotard colour. For example I have always been quite pale, so I always avoided white and pastel coloured leotards. When choosing your leotard colour think about the other dance accessories that you have. Do you already own a ballet skirt? If you want to wear the two together, perhaps for pointe work, repertoire classes or at summer schools, then ideally you will want them to match. Think back to the point about the line. If you are wearing a dark leotard then you don’t want to wear a light skirt as the colours are too contrasting and it spoils your line. On the whole a black skirt will work with most darker coloured leotards but for an audition I would certainly have them in the same colour.
There has been a lot of research over the years regarding the best material for leotards. Cotton leotards, though comfortable are just going to absorb the sweat whereas the more modern microfibre materials are quick drying making them more pleasant to dance in. Lace is a very popular choice for a more stylish look and feel to your leotard but ensure that is has been manufactured to stretch and move with your body. Velour is also very popular and luxurious material for a leotard and can look stunning but could make you too hot in a long sleeved style leotard.
Whatever style, colour or material you choose it is essential that the leotard fits you properly so that you can dance with confidence and in comfort. The leotard should not be baggy anywhere and and make sure that the leotard doesn’t cut under your arm pits as this will restrict your natural movement in your upper body.
It is worth investing some time in finding the right leotard for you. If you feel comfortable and confident dancing in your leotard then you are going to perform to your best and look great too!
Kimberley Berkin December 2017
We have a great range of leotards at PDE Dance Supplies Online Dance Shop. Click here to view our Dancewear collection.
This blog post was written by Royal Ballet School trained ex Professional Ballerina, Kimberley Berkin. Kimberley is the Director of Courses and Principal of the Ballet Associates Programme at Professional Dance Experience Ltd. Kimberley also co-founded the PDE Dance Supplies online dance shop along with her husband, Michael Berkin. You can learn more about Kimberley Berkin here.
Main Photograph: Brian Slater
- Kimberley Berkin