The leotard is a jersey close to the body allowing the dancer to make the slightest movement without embarrassment and the dance teacher to see his movements clearly. It was invented by Jules Léotard, a French trapeze artist, for the needs of a show.
It should not be confused with the body or the academic (rather worn by modern dancers). The leotard is more like a swimsuit. It is worn most of the time without underwear underneath. Tights are usually worn under the leotard.
When a skirt is sewn to the leotard, it is called a tunic. Otherwise, it can be worn with a more or less long skirt, a tutu, shorts, leggings, pants, a heart cover…
When choosing your leotard, you can choose a shape according to your morphology and your preferences:
- Wide straps,
- Thin straps,
- Crossed straps in the back,
- Bare back,
- Neck shake,
- Short sleeves,
- 3/4 sleeves,
- Long sleeves,
- With integrated shorts.
The second choice to make is the material of the leotard. In the past, they were made of cotton. It’s a very comfortable material but it doesn’t allow perspiration to evacuate easily. It can also become rougher after washing. Do not hesitate to test different materials: lycra, elastane, microfibre, polyester, polyamide, nylon tactel… Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, it’s up to you to see which one suits you best.
The best thing to do is to try them on in a dance shop, especially if it is your first purchase of this kind. Each brand sizes differently and may fit smaller or larger than your usual size. A leotard should be worn close to the body, without leaving marks on your skin once you take it off. Check that the straps stay in place and that you can move effortlessly by making a few movements in the store.
As for the colour, it’s up to you to choose it according to your preferences: pink, red, black, white, blue, green… There really is something for everyone.
How to choose your ballet shoes?
Beginners should rather wear half-points with full soles.
If pointe shoes make every little girl dream, don’t start with that! Before getting on pointe shoes, you should have strong ankles so you don’t risk getting hurt. Generally, girls start riding on pointe shoes from the age of 11 or 12 depending on their morphology and their strength in the feet and ankles.
The work on spikes is very strenuous and requires the acquisition of a certain technique before being able to try it. If you start ballet as an adult, you will also have to wait if your dream is to dance on pointe.
You will first have to invest in good half-points before imagining yourself doing a series of grand jets and pirouettes on your pointe shoes.
There are many models of dance shoes. Several criteria can help you in your choice:
- The sole of the half-toe: when you start, it is advised to stick to the full sole which holds the foot better and ensures you a good stability. When you reach an intermediate level, it is possible to switch to the bi-sole half-toes, which means that the middle of the foot is left free in the shoe, without a sole, to allow it to point better. There are leather or suede inserts only under the heel and under the front of the foot to make turning easier,
- The material of the slipper: leather is more durable over time but less flexible. Canvas is very supple directly but will tend to wear out. You will then have to buy back half-tips when there are holes. There are also satin slippers (like the spikes) or bi-material (in leather but with a part in canvas or elastane for more flexibility),
- The colour: the most common are pink, beige and black but you may also want white or red slippers!
For pointe shoes, other criteria are also important:
- Width: narrow, medium or wide depending on the width of your foot. If you feel tight when you ride on pointe shoes, you should take a width above. On the contrary, if you slip into your slippers, take a width below,
- The hardness: of the sole (or camber). Beginners start with a soft sole and the hardness can be increased as they learn. With each new purchase, you will have to ask yourself if you take a harder sole or not,
- The vamp: more or less long. This is the part that covers the toes,
- The shape of the box: i.e. from the inside of the shoe. You will have the choice between a square shape or a more conical shape depending on the shape of your foot.