How important is a dress code in dance class?
In regards to ballet classes and tap classes…
I believe there is a value and real importance in a dress code during a structured dance class, but I do question how seriously and when that dress code should be implemented. The clothing dress code helps a young dancer focus during class by 1. Understanding they are going to a structured class (compared to an unstructured playtime) 2. Ensuring that the clothing is not a distraction during class (such as when a dancer arrives wearing dress up clothes like a large party dress or fairy wings) and 3. Makes certain that a dancer is appropriately dressed to be necessarily covered. I do not think a dress code is necessary during general movement or Mommy and Me type classes. Of course dance leotards, tights and tutus always add to the fun, but they are not required for the educational development in any tiny tot dancer during dancing class. If a parent is watching the budget (and who isn’t nowadays?) or a child does not want to wear the suggested clothes, a dancer can be equally successful and have has much fun during class wearing a basic pair of leggings and a t-shirt. If this is the case, I would suggest setting aside the leggings and t-shirt for dance class only, so again, the dancer learns that these clothes are affiliated with a structured class and not just playtime.
The dress code that I do struggle with is when a dance studio requires a specific leotard or a specific color for a children's dance class, that is usually sold or branded by the dance studio. The real reason behind this requirement is not to benefit the dancer but to create additional revenue for the dance studio. Money seems to fly out the door enough as it is when you have children aside from having to spend money on expensive dance clothes that they will quickly grow out of. Besides, at that age, dancers should be having fun and what is more fun than picking out your favorite color leotard? Even if a studio does have a strict dance code, don’t get sucked into the unnecessary pressure to buy everything from the studio. You can find great dance clothes at great prices at www.discountdance.com or www.dancedistributors.com.
With all of that said, a dress code becomes more important as the dancer gets older, especially in ballet classes. Proper dance attire enables the teacher to see the dancers’ positions and movement in order to give necessary corrections for the benefit of the dancer’s education. A dress code also teaches discipline, which is important in an art as demanding as dance. For a very traditional ballet class, students are usually asked to wear a black (or solid color) leotard and pink tights. Pattern leotards can be a distraction to the teacher’s eye.
The other parts of a dress code in dance classes includes hair pulled back in a bun (or at least a ponytail) and proper shoes. These both are important for the dancer and should be adhered to. (Again, shoes do not need to be bought directly from the studio when there are less expensive options.)
In regards to hip hop classes…
A dress code for a hip hop class should be very general. To promote the culture and energy of the hip hop style, the dress code should simply be sweats, t-shirts, and tennis shoes with laces. Dancers will often do floor work and is why long stretchy pants are needed and t-shirts are important to cover the dancers as they start moving. Tied tennis shoes with less traction are good for sliding and turning. Girls’ hair should be pulled back so they don’t develop bad habits of fidgeting with hair while they are dancing.
Overall, a dress code is important in any dance class but the strictness should depend on the age and where to buy the required clothes should always be questioned or sought out at lower prices if preferred by the parent. Nothing should keep us from dancing...
Brittany White - EvOLvE Dance Director