Did anyone imagine that one of the greatest topics of controversy in the dance industry would be tights? Every year, people passionately take a stance on the importance or lack of importance of wearing tights in dance routines. Parents, studio owners, competitive judges, instructors, dance industry gurus, and students all have varying, strong opinions on the subject. The question becomes, “What are the reasons behind the stances? Are they justifiable? What is the overall rationale?” Too often, a person’s stance on the issue immediately stereotypes the person as “old fashioned/outdated” or “hip/cool”; these are unfair, typically inaccurate, assumptions and must be re-explored, re-considered, and re-evaluated. Ultimately, as leaders, we have to ask if we are using our costuming choices to reflect the overall culture and brand of our studio?
Historically, Vogue Magazine establishes that dancers began wearing an early form of tights in the 1940s/1950, and with the evolution and improvement of the product, tights became a standard, in the classroom and on the performance stage. Of course, costuming has drastically changed from that time period, but as an undergarment, tights and their purpose have remained steadfast
Pros of Wearing Tights:
- Provides Coverage for Dancers
- Lengthens the Dancer’s Leg Line (especially when costumed with the appropriate shoe)
- Provides Support for the Leg/Maintains Muscle Warmth
- Creates a Clean, Classic Look
- Promotes Onstage Uniformity in Group Pieces
Pros of Not Wearing Tights:
- Highlights Athleticism and Strength of the Dancer’s Body
- Creates a Contemporary Appearance that Supports Stylized Routines
- Promotes of Classicism of Modern Dance
Using these “Pros”, consider which option works best for YOUR dancers. As long as you have a reasonable rationale and purpose that is appropriate and tasteful based on your dancers, skill level, age, and routine styling, your choice should make sense. Since many of us are training students that are still building the strength and athleticism required to pull of the “no-tights” look, I tend to err on the side of placing students in tights. It just makes sense to me for my students. But, I have seen the beauty, athleticism, and purpose of strong contemporary dancers that opt to not wear tights.
In exploring opinions for this article, the number one argument for not wearing tights seemed to be the use of FootUndeez/Dance Paws in routines. Unless a dancer is committed to fully dancing barefoot (and it makes sense for the style of dance), it is important to elongate the leg line from the hip to the foot (and half-soles are a great option that combines the functionality of a FootUndeez/Dance Paw with the look of a full shoe; especially when combined with stirrup tights).
Think about it. Make sure your choices make sense. Whatever your choice, make sure it is in the best interest of your dancers, their look, and your studio’s culture. With the variety of tight styles and brands, there are options for everyone. And, at the end of the day, IF we are making smart choices that make sense, we should respect each other for it: tights or no tights.