Tights! Who NEEDS to Wear Them?

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Too much of a good thing is not only ‘not good,’ but it can be downright bad!

It makes sense for modern or contemporary dancers to perform without tights when everyone on stage:

  • Exhibits extensive ballet training.
  • Is technically adept.
  • Has a uniform body type.
  • Is extremely fit, sleek, powerful and strong.
  • Has lean, well-defined legs that look as though they’ve been airbrushed like magazine photos.

Teen and young adult groups who meet the above criteria usually leave audiences spellbound.

Audiences are enchanted with their raw, cutting-edge performances. Their performances are enhanced by their very simple, unadorned costumes that were selected with care to complement the piece. In other words, the choreography, movement, music, technical skill and minimal costume all work together to tell a story.

These groups are a delight to watch. The costuming is appropriate and showcases the uniformity in body type. Watching them perform without tights is not at all distracting.

However, it appears that performing without tights has become a trend without regard for how everyone looks; without thought about whether or not it’s even flattering.

I have observed large groups, both up close and from the back of the theater. Regardless of where I sit, stage lighting is like HDTV – it shows everything!

I have seen large ballet groups on pointe wearing phenomenal tutus and no tights. What?

Their overall presence looks incomplete because the nature of the choreography, music, costume, props, etc., all suggest that the tights would be the refining element. It was distracting and left me feeling that this group lacked finesse because they failed to polish to their appearance.

The larger the group, the larger the risk of seeing:

  • tan lines.
  • ill-fitting booty shorts.
  • shorts that continue to rise up throughout the dance.
  • dancers pulling down shorts that have risen up.
  • dancers who DON’T pull down shorts that have risen up.
  • bloody knees.
  • unsightly bruises.
  • razor nicks.
  • cellulite.
  • fat.
  • ash.
  • Band-Aids (some falling off).
  • cheeks.
  • no shorts at all – just the skimpy, one inch crotch of the costume riding up a bare bottom.

While observing some of the most beautiful dancers, I wonder why they didn’t finish their look. Their hair and makeup is flawless, their costume is breathtakingly beautiful along with their jazz, ballet or toe shoes.

Very young, beginner dancers, who perform solos without tights, look like they’re in dress rehearsal because they are usually wearing jazz shoes. It looks odd because their costume, hair and make-up are spectacular.
When these beginning young dancers don’t wear tights it is difficult to see the body-lines.

Of course, there is a time and a place for everything, including going without tights. Dancers on SYTYCD and in costume catalogs don’t wear tights. And now, we’re taking our cues from them. However, we must remember, dancers on television have wonderful facilities and those in catalogs may have been airbrushed.

Most kids want to be cool and follow the trend. I get that. When I was 13 my body began to change. I gained weight and my hips and derriere expanded. (They’ve been in expansion mode ever since.)  But, if at 13, I were about to go onstage to perform my solo without tights, I would hope that some adult would pull me to the side and whisper in my ear:

“Hey, since you’re performing a solo you have some say regarding your costume. Going on stage without tights is not flattering for you. You NEED to put on tights because your cheeks are hanging out. Also, you know this will end up on YouTube and you’ll be haunted by this footage for the rest of your life.”

Period, end of story.

The same way we respect various art forms by selecting appropriate music we must do the same with costuming. Necessity and appropriateness should be our guide, not; “Everyone else is doing it, so I’ll do it, too.”

I was recently a guest judge at a solo-only competition. I could overhear the judge next to me advising ALL dancers who were wearing tights to take them off. I asked her about it afterwards. She said she doesn’t ever see a need for them. She said, “They’re old school.”

What’s your take on this? Old school?

Have we taken this trend too far? Cast your vote now by adding a comment. Thanks!

I’m hyper, don’t have TV, and enjoy making all my own blog graphics.

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Gracias mi amigos.
Yours in love and dance, Laurie

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