Many dance teachers started dancing in an era where not even a bobby pin could be out of place. If it was, depending on their teacher or dance school, they might be yelled at or sent home. Most of those dancers who are now teaching their own classes do not impose the same strict rules—but that does not mean that they do not want their dancers to look professional. Many of today’s students went straight past having an exposed bobby pin and into the realm of not just distasteful, but downright inappropriate outfits and hairstyles.
“Inappropriate” here does not have anything to do with modesty. It means that messy buns and oversized sweatpants are simply not functional on the dance floor. Short-shorts and a sports bra tell a teacher two things: “I don’t care what I look like,” and “I don’t care about this class.” Dancers should care about both of those things. How you present yourself, how dedicated you are to looking the part directly reflects how well you pay attention in that class.
This isn’t just conjecture. It certainly isn’t just your teacher being strict. A study conducted by California State University found that students in business school performed better if they wore suits to class. Why? Because when they were dressed appropriately, their brain was more in-tune with what was being presented in those classes. The same can be said for dancers in dance classes. Dancers in a traditional ballet class should wear the trappings of a ballerina: leotard, pristine pink tights, and slippers. Jazz dancers should have the appropriate jazz footwear. Modern dancers should go without the paw.
Many dance students are watching movies and television shows were dancers get to wear anything they want. They take their cues from what these dancers wear, instead of what their teachers want them to wear. Your teacher does not require you to wear a leotard because she is mean. She does it because studios that show up at competition looking like professionals are treated like professionals.
At Fitzsimmons Dance Factory, we want all of our dancers to have a clean appearance and to wear bandanas that keep their hair out of their face. Again, this isn’t because we’re mean—it’s because we know the importance of respecting the studio, respecting the craft, and looking the part of a professional dancer.