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Dancewear: and tights

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In a question related to the white leo question: Do any darker-skinned girls or women want to weigh in on wearing traditional tights (pink/peach) versus a tights that are tan or brown and more closely resemble your skin color? I know a lot of schools require darker-skinned students to wear the same tights as everyone else so they will "fit in". Has this been your experience? Do you like the look? Do you mind?


I worked for a while with inner-city kids who were in a dance program for which the uniforms were supplied. Many of them had dark skin, and none of the girls seemed to mind the pink tights initially. Then one of the boys made fun of them because their legs and arms didn't match, and then they were a little less happy.

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My DD who is very dark AA always wears pink for ballet. She has a few pairs of Capezio's darkest brown tights that she wears for theatre and occassionally has worn in performances - I can't remember the exact ones or why- maybe they were character dances.


Since it is the uniform for the school and about 50% of the dancers are AA and wearing pink, I don't think she gives it much thought. But I did see a performance on TV by the Harlem Theatre and they all wear tights that were closely matched to skin color and it looked very nice.

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Guest tutuonmymind

I wear pink tights because it is what I wore as a kid. I have a dark complexion so I haven't seen any tights that would match my skin tone. It's true that the pink doesn't match the arms. But when you look at a line of dancers with their legs in the same position, it makes for a nicer line.


I think the key is not to think about how the dancer looks in the attire as much as it is about how the dance looks. This is especially true in group dances. While every dancer has their own physical attributes (skin tone, hair color, height) that make them look different, they strive to make their movements look the same. So I like the look in class of pink tights on everyone or a uniform look in general.




The story about the girls that were teased becuase their legs and arms didn't match is a little sad. However, if you ever get the chance to work with girls of color again and it comes up, just tell them to tell the boys (or whoever) that they look funny too because unless they wear pants that are exactly the same color as their arms, they don't match either. :yucky:

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At my old school I wore Capezio suntan tights, but they still didn't match my complexion. At my new school I'll wear pink tights, it doesn't bother me. In class I'm concentrating on my technique and in performance I'm just dancing so I never really think about the difference in the color.

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My DD also wears pink. I think a product of the environment she has danced in. It has never bothered her. Her teachers have requested her to wear skin tone tights for performances here and there but otherwise, she just wears pink like the other students in her program. We've been watching some videos recently of the company she will dance with next year and they seem to wear no tights and skintone shoes for alot of their performances. We'll see if there is a change in the new environment.

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Thanks for your responses. Tutuonmymind, that is exactly what I told the girls! I've also been thinking about this as a teacher who might like to open her own school someday. I tend to like the uniform leg look in class. Everyone's upper-bodies look different anyway. Forget skin tone, but there are differences in facial features, hair colors, etc.


On the other hand, if I had a student who wanted to wear skin-toned tights that were different from pink/peach, I can't imagine not allowing her to do so. I just can't.


At some point, I guess it becomes a question of where to draw the line. It's one thing to allow different tights, but with hairstyles, etc. -- that could start a real furor with other kids and moms! And I'm ready to stand up to families if I think it's the right thing to do, but ultimately, performing classical ballet (in particular, corps work) and self-expression don't always have a lot to do with one another.


I can already hear people saying, "Just stick with tradition. It's what your students will have to deal with everywhere else. They might as well be prepared." :wub:

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Oh insidesoloist--I can give you several reasons why that last statement from a parent could be refuted. (and I know you were just "hearing" those words and not saying them as if someone actually said that--please know I am answering you out of respect. I hope it comes across that way. As I've said, my own DD wears pink by choice)


But since you mentioned owning your own place it would be good to note that the difference in where to draw the line is in what cannot be changed and what the purpose of the difference is. Hair can be changed, skin cannot. Leotards can be changed, skin color cannot.


The reason for different color tights/shoes is to extend the line of the dancer. To make the clothing on that body part disappear on stage so to speak. So although, DD does not wear tan tights much, they would in fact help extend the look of her line in some costumes. Even when she does wear pink it is a more peachy pink so they actually look pink on her and not white. It is not break of ballet tradition in reasoning for tights to be tan. It is just a break in tradition of what color the tights were when that reasoning began.


If you were to open your own studio. You might want to allow the tan tights as an option, depending on the clientele. I manage a dancewear store and the thing I will tell you is that most manufacturers of shoes are slowly changing the color of their adult shoes to be a more "natural" tone because it seems that professional dancers are moving more in that direction. In fact, there is only one major manufacturer who still holds to the traditional pink in their leather adult shoes. Most others have gone to a more brown pink. Even more brown than Bloch's peachy pink ballet shoes.


I hope you will also have an answer to those who would say "they might as well be prepared". Because in fact, they would be the ones speaking from lack of knowledge and preparedness.


With respect to the issue, you're right, self-expression isn't allowed in Classical ballet alot. I would not equate self-expression to tights color as much as a hair style. But we do get asked why people wear brown and we explain it. Education generally ends the question in people's minds. It is better to explain it than have small minded people think "they" just want to be different. No, the "theys" of the world want their line extended also. It is not really something for debate, but something that education of the reasons behind decisions would be good. Good for those boys who said something to the kids and good for any parents who don't understand why brown might be an issue.

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In response to the original post...


Then one of the boys made fun of them because their legs and arms didn't match, and then they were a little less happy.


Oh my gosh, but whose arms and legs REALLY match? Nobody's except MINE, actually - I have such pale skin that my bare calves blend into my pink tights quite well and I've always found this TOTALLY embarassing!! (Though in my "old age" I have pretty much gotten over it.) :) All the other (white) girls go out and get these great tans over the summer and then their arms and legs are totally different colors also.

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Just my 2 cents.


I'm South Asian, and grew up always wearing pink tights. I was the only girl of colour in my level - small town. When you are dancing in an ensemble, the uniformity matters. Also, it was much harder to get tan tights those days. I also wear black tights. I think the black looks better on me because it it so hard to find a pink that actually looks the same pink on me as it does on lighter-skinned girls. And if it's too peachy I start to look like I have jaundice!


Anyways. It's hard with an in-between brown tone to find tights to match. I don't really worry about it during class. I didn't start worrying about it until I saw some pictures from a performance I did earlier this year, which was 'gala' in form (everyone doing different variations from different ballets), and it looked like my legs were so separate - with Momof3s help (thank you!!!), I invested in some darker tights this summer, and have worn them in class a few times, with some more 'tan' than 'pink' shoes. Wow - my legs look great. I also like the 'toned' look that I feel I have in them. (Am I allowed to say all that about myself?). They actually look like *my* legs. And they look longer. It's nice.


For corps work, I find multi-coloured legs distracting. I love Dance Theatre of Harlem, but sometimes in a ballet like Agon or so with everyone with different colour legs to match their own skintone, and accompanying different shoes, I find it distracting. Best to choose 'one' tan... But for the soloist stuff, it can be great. And, to be honest, I find it empowering. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I finally felt like the whole idea of 'elongating the line' finally applied to me... ? Who knows.


The kids who made fun of the others... so sad. It happens though. Been there. Kids can be *mean*. The boys arms and legs don't match either though, and an off-hand light-hearted comment could hopefully divert the situation, before the girls develop a complex (again, been there, done that, own the tear-stained t-shirt).

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  • 3 weeks later...

All this talk about tight color has prompted me to go out and buy myself some tan tights. Although my legs are lighter than my upper body I went with "light suntan" and "suntan" shades in a few different brands, and I adore them because they make me look even longer....! When I'm not wearing demi-pointe shoes! *sigh*. I have peachy-brown and suntan flats that match my skin/tights, but what about demi-pointes?! Does anyone know of a company that makes brownish pointes? I must have a pair! Also pointes... I am not on pointe yet but will be soon if I have anything to say about it! Any brown pointes out there? Thanks! :yes:

Edited by je danse dans ma tete
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I don't think anyone makes brown (or skin-toned) pointe shoes, but what we have used in the past for performances is pancake. We have mainly used it on canvas flats, but I imagine it would work on pointes too, if you are careful not to get it too wet. (My sister has used calamine lotion to dull the "shine" on her pointes, and has been successful with that. Would imagine pancake would work much in the same way and could add a tint.)

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How on earth does one use pancakes to make shoes brown? I am confused ... French is my first language so maybe it's that... or I am just stupid... :( Are we talking about pancake mixture? Syrup maybe?

Edited by je danse dans ma tete
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Pancake makeup, kriskoekk is talking about pancake makeup. In spite of the name, this has nothing to do with the popular breakfast item. I've never had to do this, but my friend was just asking about it. Kriskoekk, can you tell us what brand of makeup you used, and whether you needed to then cover the makeup with something to set it so it didn't rub off on the floor, etc.?

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I've used Kryolan pancake makeup in the past. It's available from Dance Distributors. You just get a makeup sponge wet and dab the pancake makeup right onto the shoe, then let it dry. It may take two coats. However, it will turn the shoes a very pale pink--like the color of Bloch canvas shoes, or of those nylon non-mesh tights. I use it to make one matching line from tights to shoes (and yes, I'm quite fair-skinned).


To make a skin tone color pointe shoe. I have used and seen used regular liquid foundation from the drugstore--Covergirl or some similar brand. This is a good option since there are so many shades out there, you can certainly find one that's close to your own skin tone. Just use a dry makeup sponge to gently apply the foundation all over the shoe, then let it dry. You can apply the makeup to the ribbons as well, if you want. This works very well for matching a skin tone, but it may take some practice to get the color exactly even with no blotches. This look is nice for contemporary ballets with bare legs.

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  • Momof3darlings changed the title to Dancewear: and tights

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