Dancing Cost and Clothing | All You Need To Know

Dancing Cost and Clothing


The costs of dance education are significant, but this should not hinder an earnest child from participating. Scholarships awarded by studios, foundations, or civic clubs may defray costs. These scholarships may be need or talent based. You may find a studio that offers free or income-based classes. For the experienced dancer looking for extra classes, this is great, but a beginning dance student should make sure that all classes are high quality.

Without scholarships, total costs for classes will grow as the hours of study increase, but that usually means that the cost per class will decrease. Additional costs for a dedicated dancer may include summer programs, competitions, and private study. These costs can propel fees exponentially. These additional courses of study or performance each have their benefits, but they are not the only ways to a successful dance career.

Summer programs often include a combination of intensive study and summer-camp activities. There are numerous programs offered throughout the country that target a variety of price ranges and ability levels. Full and partial scholarships are available for many of these programs. Parents will want to spend time learning about the different programs and evaluating what will fit the needs, interests, and abilities of their child. Some programs require an audition; others require a photo or audition tape, and still others are open to anyone interested in attending who has the money to pay tuition.

Scholarships are available for most summer programs and home studios, but they are not abundant. Companies associated with dance, such as specialty-floor suppliers and dance-clothing manufacturers, sometimes offer scholarships.

Competitions are a pricey addition to a dance education. The benefits are mixed and will be discussed in later chapters. Some prizes include cash, but they do not always cover the costs associated with participation; also, the competition may award a few scholarships for upcoming competitions. With those exceptions, costs of competitions lay solely on the dancers and their family. Choreography, private coaching, travel, lodging, entry fees, and costuming are all required for solo competitions. If your student participates as part of a team at a studio, annual team fees may cover some of the costs.


Similar to the price of daily wear, the cost for dance attire varies greatly depending on the quality, style, and brand of the dance clothing purchased. It can be reasonably priced or expensive. A leotard for women should fit snugly, like a one-piece bathing suit. Leotards come in a variety of colors and styles, including long sleeved, short sleeved, low back, and turtleneck. Some studios have a dress code and require specific styles at different levels. Different studios may have different dress codes.

Tights are worn on the legs. Underpants are not worn under women’s tights and leotards; they are not necessary, and dancers should never wear them under a costume, as they may show and usually detract from smooth body lines. If necessary, students may wear dance trunks between the skin and a costume. They are tight fitting and are available in colors that will match the dancer’s skin color.

Tights need to be washed in warm, soapy water after each use. They may be hand-washed and should never be put in the dryer.

Dance skirts come in different lengths and styles, and some schools consider them part of the dance uniform for certain classes. A student may wear a short skirt, when the school allows it. A skirt that falls above the knee is appropriate for character class, and dancers often wear mid-calf or longer skirts for Flamenco classes.

Dance pants and booty shorts are acceptable attire for jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop classes. There is a wide variety of fits for these items, from tight to baggy, and from very short shorts to longer styles. Tops range from basic T-shirts to more elaborate fitness tops. Students may wear dance pants or shorts over a leotard in lieu of tights in jazz, tap, lyrical, or hip-hop classes.

Schools may allow boys to wear sports clothing at the beginning of their dance training, but, with advancement, they will need to wear either dance pants or tights for men, which are distinctively thicker than those designed for women.

omen. In some instances, men may need to wear leotards under their tights, which have a decidedly different fit from those made for women.

The male dancer wears a dance belt. It is similar to a jock strap in support but goes a step further in that it serves to hide or smooth over the male anatomy under tights. Dance belts resemble thongs and may take some getting used to.

Like underwear for men, dance belts are sized by waist size, and they can be found at specialty dance stores or online. They come in a variety of colors. It is best to get the color closest to that of the dancer’s skin.

Depending on the dancer’s schedule, he may need more than one dance belt, as it should be laundered after every use. Usually, young boys can get away with tight-fitting underwear until they reach about eleven years old.

Different Clothing for Different Classes

Acceptable dancewear varies from class to class and studio to studio. Some studios designate leotards of a specific color for each ballet-class level. They may also specify the color of ballet slippers students should wear at each of these levels.

Traditionally, students in ballet classes wear leotards with tights, and ballet slippers that are pink, black, or neutral. At advanced levels, females may wear pointe shoes. Men’s ballet-class apparel usually consists of tights, Tshirts, socks, and black or white ballet slippers. As students advance, they may have greater leeway in their dancewear, but only at the teacher’s discretion.

These requirements aid the teacher in identifying correct and incorrect bodylines. When students all present their bodies in the same costume or class uniform, the teacher can quickly see how they are working their body.

Modern and contemporary classes also require leotards and tights, but usually the tights should be footless to support the dance form’s predilection toward training and performing bare footed.

Jazz classes may require form-fitting clothing, but they also allow a variety of style and color options compared to ballet class requirements. Shorts, dance pants, and formfitting T-shirts are often acceptable in jazz classes. Bright colors and patterned leotards and tights may be allowed.

Tap and hip-hop, as well as ethnic dance classes, do not require the same strict uniform guidelines seen in ballet and modern dance classes. They only require comfortable clothing that does not restrict movement. You may see baggy pants, shorts, T-shirts, and tight-fitting exercise tops in these classes. Hats, scarves, and ponytails are also options.

Different Hairstyles for Different Classes

There is a purpose for different hair requirements for different dance classes. The “ballet bun,” which has often caused ballet students to be referred to as “”bunheads,” is a well -known and widely recognized style. The hair is pulled back and off the face to provide the least distraction for both the teacher and the student during class.

For dancers on stage, most ballets also require hair to be up and away from the face. This contributes to the view of the dancer’s face and the line of the body. It also reduces the chance of hair hitting a partner during turns or lifts. Certain ballets require the dancer’s hair to be worn down to emphasize an emotion or a part of the story. In one of the most famous of these scenes, from the ballet Giselle, the ballerina, lets her hair down as she begins her decline into insanity. Modern and contemporary dance often allow freeflowing hair, as it adds to the earthy expression of the dance form. For performance purposes, modern dancers often pull the front of their hair back into a clip, opening up the face but allowing the rest of the hair to flow freely behind them.

Jazz and tap classes often permit a variety of hairstyles, including hair completely loose, in ponytails, and in softly put-together buns. Acceptable hairstyles for jazz class are determined by what the teacher allows. This is also true for hip-hop dance classes.

Dance Shoes

Purchase dance shoes at a dance supply store rather than at a discount store, department store, or other store that may stock them. The shoes are more likely to fit properly when fitted by a clerk who is familiar with the process, the variety of shoes available, and the features of each type. It is acceptable to fit your growing child with shoes that provide slight room for growth. Slight is the key word, as oversized shoes can hinder both progress and grace.

The shoes in the dance supply stores are, in fact, better quality than those sold in most department stores and other non-dance supply outlets. The materials used are of better quality, and the shoes fit the feet in a superior way. This facilitates proper use of the foot. Ballet slippers, for example, should mold to the dancer’s foot and show off its arch and lines. Discount ballet slippers are rarely able to do this. So much in dance is about the foot’s correct movements on the ground and in the air, and the line the foot helps create with the leg. The support a shoe gives is very important to a dancer of any age.

The soft leather used in ballet slippers and jazz shoes conforms to the shape of the foot and allows the dancer to learn how to use the foot without fighting the shoe. Some of the shoes sold in discount stores are of stiff leather and, rather than conforming to the foot, actually pull away from it, creating an unattractive effect that does not allow the dancer to succeed in their efforts to show they are working to stretch their foot properly.

Certain kinds of dance shoes, if still in good condition, may be handed down to siblings or other dance students. Soft ballet slippers, jazz, and tap shoes may all be used again, but only if they fit well. Giving a younger sibling shoes that are too big will impede the skills the sibling can accomplish. Shoes must fit appropriately in length and width. Leather shoes should fit like a glove, close to the foot, with no more than a quarter inch of extra length at the big toe.

Pointe shoes, once worn, should never be worn by another dancer. Since this is one of the most expensive purchases a dancer makes, and the length of use is limited, it is a sad truth. Pointe shoes must be fitted specifically to the dancer’s foot by a professional. Then, the break-in process begins. This process allows the shoe to conform to the needs of one particular dancer and one particular foot. Even if the handed-down shoe looks nearly new, it has the potential to cause a student to improperly use her foot, and, in the worst case, that may cause injury.

A Word about Pointe Shoes

Finally getting pointe shoes is a young ballet student’s dream, but it is often one of the most confusing events for a parent. There are many rules and traditions associated with the care and maintenance of the shoe itself. The costs associated with the shoes, which have the shortest lifespan of any other dance product, can come as a shock to parents.

For an advanced dancer, even the relatively inexpensive elastics, pins, and hairnets have a longer lifespan than a pointe shoe.

Next to a qualified teacher, the pointe-shoe fitting is the most important thing when taking ballet to this advanced level. High-quality dance supply stores have people on staff who are trained to do the fitting. Teachers from a studio may schedule a visit to the store en masse and oversee the fitting themselves. When your student obtains her first pair of pointe shoes, there must be someone present who knows what they are doing.

Both elastic and ribbon are used to secure the shoe on the foot. Traditionally, the elastic is sewn on the outside of the shoe in the back by the heel, on either side of the back seam, at varying distance apart, depending on the dancer’s preference and the teacher’s instructions. Ribbons are sewn onto the sides of the shoe. The heel of the shoe should be folded forward; the ribbons should be sewn on the inside of the shoe in the space where the heel overlaps the side of the shoe. Teachers may have certain tricks they pass on to their students that have worked for them.

Students just beginning on pointe can usually keep the same pair of shoes for several weeks or months, as at this level, the wear and tear is minimal. The more advanced student may go through a pair or more a week.

Should you feel the need for more information about proper pointe shoe fitting, training, technique, and foot care, there are several books available on these topics. The Pointe Book is in its second printing by authors, Jancie Barringer and Sara Schlesinger. The Dancer’s Foot Book, by Dr. Terry L. Spilken is also available as of this writing.

Dance Bags

All dancers need a dance bag, but its contents will differ with a student’s age.

A young student’s dance bag will contain dance shoes, whether tap, ballet, or jazz shoes. It may contain an extra set of dance clothing, as clothes might get spilled on or torn before class. A pair of socks may come in handy if shoes become too tight or a blister appears. With the teacher’s approval, students may wear them for class in lieu of shoes. (This should not be done regularly because socks are slippery.)

For students with long hair, extra hair supplies are essential. Students should assemble brush, comb, elastics, headbands, clips, bobby pins, and hairpins (yes, those are different) in a cosmetic case and add that to the dance bag.

A refillable water bottle needs to correlate to the size and effort of the student. A five-year-old taking a one-hour class does not need more than a sip or two of water during class. Any more than that and the student will need trips out of class to the bathroom. This is not ideal for the learning process.

The next level of dancer will not only add to their dance bag, but often carry a backpack as well to accommodate schoolwork, which, in many cases, the student will do between classes, while waiting for classes to begin, or after classes while waiting for parents. Dancers can add leg warmers and sweaters to the bag to keep warm before class and between classes. Students will add different dancewear depending on which classes he or she is taking and the dress code for each class.

Girls will want to pack an emergency kit for menses to keep in the bag at all times. When pointe classes begin, students will need rolls of tape for protecting toes, as well as toe pads, lamb’s wool, or the dancer’s choice of foot protection.

All dancers will want Band-Aids and possibly corn pads, which can protect a blister from further distress.

As the dancer progresses, the bag will begin to include choice stretching aids such as TheraBands or rollers to relax the foot. Different-sized balls can be used to ease tight muscles in the back or legs. Tennis balls inside a sock are not uncommon in dancers’ bags. Ointments for sore muscles and Ace bandages can be carried for backup.

At a certain point in their physical development, students will need hygienic aids, so deodorants as well as lightly scented powder will be helpful. Strong perfumes or body sprays can overwhelm the studio, especially if everyone has a different and competing scent.