Every year I see a handful of 'Back to School' commercials, and though my school days are over (and I don't have wee ones of my own yet!) I get SO excited. But not for pens and rulers and notebooks (well... admittedly I do get excited for these things because I love organization)... instead I get excited because a new dance season is about to begin!
At this time (near the end of August), our classes are filling (or filled!), and all of our new and returning dancers are asking what they need for class. Like many other studios we have a specific dress code (you can find it here: http://ambitionarts.com/dance_dress_code.php), and it thrills me to say that the staff at APA do work to enforce it - I LOVE a good dress code.
Dress code is important. It reinforces the structure that we work to provide through lesson plans, and promotes better behaviour. It creates a neutral learning environment because no one has to worry about what they (and others) will wear to class. It helps develop a team atmosphere - when the dancers visually look unified, they begin to act unified. It keeps dancers safe because their fancy tops and accessories don't get stuck on things in the room (or on other dancers). It allows teachers to see body movements, and give better feedback and correction. It helps teachers create cleaner and more visually appealing routines because they can see lines and shapes better when they aren't distracted by neon zebra print leggings or pink glitter tops. It ensure that dancers are developing the correct muscles.
Like I said. I LOVE a good dress code.
But simply buying the dress code isn't good enough. Proper fitting attire are a must. Let me break it down for you:
How should a Bodysuit fit?
A bodysuit that is too big or too small can be very distracting to a dancer. A bodysuit should fit like a swim suit. It should not fall off the shoulders, and you should be able to pull the straps off of your dancers shoulder by about 1" to 1.5". Do not put bodysuits in the dryer; they will shrink!
Can my dancer wear a bodysuit with sleeves?
We ask for sleeveless bodysuits because sleeveless bodysuits are required for exams, we sometimes use them as an under piece for recital costumes, and (as I mentioned above) it helps to create unity when everyone is wearing the same thing. If your dancer tends to get cold, they won't be for long! We will either adjust the heat in the room, or increase activity so that your dancer is warm again!
How should tights fit?
Tights are sized by height and weight; if your dancer is in the low-mid range for a size shown on the package then you can stay within the specified size. If your dancer is in the higher end of the height/weight range for a size, go up!
Dance tights are expensive. Can't I just buy nylons or send my dancer in leggings?
We prefer dance tights. Yes, they are more expensive. But they are also more durable, and they do provide more coverage than a nylon does. Dance tights also have specific hues that make it easier to spot muscle tone and placement, which means that teachers are better able to correct dancers, and make sure they are engaging proper muscles groups.
If you have a child that seems to go through tights every week, buy them a size (or two!) larger than you think they are. The waistbands on tights do not change much from a 8-10 sized tight, to an Adult Medium, and the length increase by small increments - so it is absolutely safe to buy big!
Bonus: going up a size or two in tights means more fabric; your tights will not stretch out as much, the fibres will stay in tact, and if the tights happen to catch on a nail (or anything else!) they are less likely to rip!!
Tap Shoes and Hip Hop: I absolutely insist that dancers have growing room in their shoes - after all, who really wants to buy multiple pairs of shoes in a year? BUT (and this is a big but!) the shoes cannot be TOO big. If your child brushes their foot forward, and the shoe flies off of their foot, it is too big. This has happened to me on several occasions; one time in a tap class, I had a student kick off their shoe and break the mirror. Another time, I had a dancer kick off their shoe while we were doing circle warm up, and it hit another dancer in the head - ouch! Hip hop shoes are a little more forgiving, because they cover more of the foot and generally have a full lace.
How should a Tap/Hip Hop Shoe fit?: Your dancer should have 3/4 to 1 thumb of space in the front of their shoe when standing. As long as their heels stay in their shoes when they rise up on to their toes (and I will ask them to dance on their toes!). If they are a little on the big side, make sure that you have shoe laces to tighten them, or you can try a small insert. They make ones for the ball of the foot, and ones for the heels - the heel grips are GREAT for any dancers with really narrow heels!
Ballet & Jazz Shoes (and Dance Theatre!): Again, we do want some growing space, but it is important to remember that most ballet and jazz dancers spend a significant amount of time on their toes. If there is too much space in the toes of the shoe then there is a definite tripping hazard. Another fun fact about these shoes: because they are made out of leather, they stretch. They will stretch at least a half size, probably closer to a full size. I buy my jazz shoes a full size smaller than my regular street shoe, because if they are too loose then I lose control and balance.
We prefer the dancers not to dance barefoot for ballet and jazz because there is risk of injury (once upon a time I ripped several layers of skin off of the ball of my foot while attempting to turn in bare feet, and I can tell you that it did NOT feel good), and because it is more advantageous to the dancer to train in the same shoe for performances and exams (switching between bare feet and shoes can change balance, power, rotation, and control).
How should a Ballet/Jazz Shoe fit?: Your dancer should have about 1/2 thumb of space in the front of their shoe when standing. This gives your dancer about a half size of growing room. Once you consider the stretch factor, you have about 1-1.5 sizes of growing space.
I personally like to lightly tighten the drawstrings, knot them, and cut them off. If you tie them in a bow, they will never stay done up - I promise! You can of course do this yourself - be careful not to tie the drawstrings too tightly! They do start to dig into the backs of the dancers heels when they grow.
Acro and Conditioning: We like all of our dancers to have a good cross trainer runner for conditioning, because this class focuses on strength development and injury prevention. Hip Hop runners (and other fitness shoes) do not have the same arch support, and are not appropriate for the movement required from the dancers in this class. BUT because these shoes won't make it to the stage, and colour and style will work!
Acro requires NO shoes (wahoo!) because it allows dancers to grip the floor better with their feet, allowing them to execute acro skills and tricks much easier!
And there we have it! Everything you need to know about dress codes and proper fitting attire. If you have any questions about our dress code, or how it should fit, please check our website (http://ambitionarts.com/dance_dress_code.php), or give our office a call (403-648-5287)!
And don't forget about our Second Hand Sale next Wednesday, September 3rd 5:00pm-7:00pm!
Next stop... DANCE CLASS! I will be counting the sleeps!
Miss Adrianne <3