The leotard is a one-piece garment that covers the upper body while leaving the legs free. As such, it’s the perfect garment for dance, but leotards and dance have not always been so connected. The leotard had been created in 1920 by Jules Leotard, a French gymnast who invented the flying trapeze. Initially, it was only intended to be worn by men, but today it has a universal appeal and is worn for many sports and exercise regimes, including gymnastics, athletics, ice skating, acting and performances, and dance.
Are Dance and Gymnastic Leotards the Same?
Kids learn fast and attending sports or dance classes is great for their physical and mental development. It can break many barriers and help them feel good about themselves, develop physical skills, have fun and make new friends.
So, whether you’ve decided to sign up your daughter for gymnastics or dance classes, choosing proper attire for her always comes first. The appropriate clothing is put in place for a good reason and it begins with understanding the differences between leotards meant for different activities.
Wearing the appropriate leotard is important as it shows discipline, respect for the activity and enhances the kid’s ability to fully participate. However, gymnastics and dance leotards are not the same and knowing the differences can help you find the right outfit for your daughter’s gymnastics or dance classes and avoid some inconveniences.
What is a Dance Leotard?
Dance or ballet leotards come in many different styles and are usually made of cotton, spandex, nylon or lace. You can choose from a variety of dance leotards, including tank, camisole, short sleeve, long sleeve or ¾ sleeve styles with details like ribbons, lace, strappy backs, rhinestones and more.
Leotards are designed in a way that helps dancers to feel comfortable and able to move easily, focusing on the moves without being distracted. For many dancers, a leotard feels like a second skin. While providing students with the required flexibility for the challenging spins, the leotard allows teachers to better see the student’s movements and see if the dancer has proper hip alignment and correct posture when needed. If the bones are not aligned, the student might get injured by forcing the rotation.
You can choose your daughter’s leotard colour according to what she will be wearing it for. If you’re looking for a leotard for a ballet audition, a black leotard is mostly preferred. For ballet classes, your best choice is a leotard in only one colour as it shows the dancer’s classical line more clearly than a colourful one.
Apart from classes, leotards can be used as performance wear for various dance shows. When it comes to ballet, the first things that pop to mind are leotards and tutus. It’s essential to the art that students dress in line with the dress code requirements as group uniformity helps the teacher spot mistakes such as a hip too high or an elbow in the wrong place. When it comes to specifics, every studio may differ a little, so you can check with the teacher before your daughter starts the classes, to determine what she needs to begin with.
Keep in mind that a dance leotard is supposed to be snug and fitted like a second skin to the body, without any excess material. If the leotard is too small, it will probably dig into the dancer’s shoulders or the hips. That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s pulled up properly onto the hips, feels comfortable and allows easy movement.
What is a Gymnastic Leotard?
Most gymnastics leotards are made from a combination of spandex, polyester and nylon, which makes them lighter and more breathable, a great solution for performances that demand high physical power. Gymnastics leotards come in bright colours and fancy patterns and the choice usually comes down to personal preferences.
More importantly, the leotard should provide a snug and comfortable fit, with no extra room in the straps, sleeves or bottom. Wearing anything loose when doing flips, rolls or walking on the balance beam is a safety hazard for students as their clothing could get caught on equipment.
Being comfortable while practising is very important as it allows the gymnasts to put their attention and effort into working hard on their routines. This can result in higher motivation and improved performance. That’s one of the main reasons why a leotard is a must for gymnastics competitions as well. Also, it ensures that all participants are at the same standard when it comes to their attire.
If the leotard doesn’t fit properly, your child might be more focused on adjusting and tugging than on the task at hand. That’s why it must feel natural and comfortable, so she can focus on performance only. If she feels good in her leotard and is happy with the fit and the style, it can help her improve self-esteem and elevate her confidence, too.
How to Choose the Right Leotard?
To determine the right size, measure your daughter’s chest, hips, waist and torso and compare on a chart of leotards’ sizes and choose according to her body type.
What About Underwear?
When it comes to this matter, there are no strict rules about it, so your child can choose whatever makes her feel more comfortable and confident at the same time. Some leopards include support and others can be worn with a bra, so she can choose whatever she prefers as long as it doesn’t show or bother her while performing.