Dress for Success: The Function of a Dancer’s Uniform

In a ballet class, it’s not uncommon for students to ask, “Why do I have to wear my uniform in class?” It’s not an inappropriate question, just a slightly misguided one. Many students believe that a ballet uniform is reserved for more formal situations. But a dancer’s uniform is so much more.

Ballet dancers traditionally wear a leotard to better define the elegant, disciplined posture required for precise movement. Tights add definition to a dancer’s leg lines, serving to enhance the attention to muscle tone and control of movement. And proper shoes allow for comfort and functionality during rigorous training.

Individual Practice and Performance

A ballet uniform is more than the sum of its parts. Leotards, tights, shoes… they all form the basic foundation of a uniform, but when a dancer “suits up” these garments represent the difference between a true passion and a recreational hobby.

In addition to the personal pride instilled in a dancer by the proper attire, the uniform also represents a commitment to excellence. When a dancer shows up to class on time and beautifully dressed it sends a message of respect and maturity to the teacher and the rest of the class. The student is ready to take the art seriously and honor the traditions of those who came before them.

Classroom Etiquette

In the classroom setting, the function of a uniform goes well beyond the individual. The art of ballet requires intense discipline on an individual level, but it’s true beauty lies in the synchronized harmony of the group. A dress code not only reinforces the class’s ability to function as one cohesive unit, it provides the discipline and structure that children need.

Children require both affection and structure in order to develop into secure, happy adults. But according to psychologist, Lisa Damour, parents ought to be more concerned with providing structure for their children. Damour is the author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, and is an expert in the development of adolescent girls. In her recent conversation with Kevin Delaney (former editor-in-chief of the digital publication Quartz) Damour says, “They can get warmth from their teachers, from their friends’ parents, but they can only get structure from their parents.”

We’ll Provide the Uniform

From the perspectives of children and parents alike, whether we realize it or not there is an important significance to a dancer’s uniform. Children wear it with pride and parents rest easy knowing that their values at home are being reinforced in the dance studio. Here at Principal Ballet, we firmly believe in the positive impact of uniforms. They reinforce strong emotional intelligence, physical development, and a sense of purpose for our students. It's why we include the cost of the first uniform in all of our programs.