Not All Tights Are Created Equal
When shopping for the essential pink tights commonly worn in ballet classes all over the world, quality is really important. Sure, you can grab a pack for a few bucks from Target, but you’ll keep going back … and back … and back for more to replace the ripped ones. (I mean, I’m not complaining about a solo Target run, but still!) The “good” tights are good for a reason! They are more durable than the cheap ones, and you can find them in more colors that complement a dancer’s specific skin tone. Not all pinks are the same, and it’s important to find the perfect shade that will enhance your dancer’s legs, which in turn will highlight her skills on stage!
Your best bet is to head to your local dance shop to find a color and brand that you like. The expertise of the sales team will be much appreciated, especially for first-timers. Next, it’s never too soon to learn the different types of dance tights — after all, your little dancer will progress through the ranks and one day need a different style of tights for different styles of dance.
For the little ones, just start with the basic “classic” type of dance tight — the “ballet pink” with feet. When Alessandra was in preschool-level ballet, we got away with using regular pink tights that you would find in the clothing section. But, as noted, they just do not hold up. They would pill and snag way too easily! True dance tights are thicker and more durable, plus they tend to fit better in the waist and crotch areas. Nothing worse than tights that are uncomfortable in those places when you’re trying to learn a new combination.
Now, once a dancer begins to elevate her performance and become a competition dancer, the quality of tight needs to advance along with her. Many tight brands have a “professional” line, which comes in a broader range of colors, and is a bit thinner than the regular tight. This means that the dancers legs can be easily seen by judges and the audience, which impacts the score when judges can see each tiny flex and movement of the leg.
The style of tight will also evolve as your dancer does. Tights usually come in four options: Capri, Convertible, Footed, and Fishnet. Capri tights come down to mid-calf, leaving the bottom half of the leg and the foot bare. Jazz and modern dancers usually prefer capri tights so they can either fit snugly in a shoe or limit slipping and sliding if they want to dance barefoot.
Convertible tights have an opening that lands in the middle of the bottom of the foot when worn over the feet, and they can stretch over the foot to wear at the ankle only. These are especially useful for the heavily competitive dancer who is dancing for hours on end — her feet need to breathe at some point! It’s also useful for dancers to easily access their bare foot to apply padding or bandages before rolling the tight over the foot and putting on their pointe shoes. Finally, fishnet tights are typically worn by Broadway-style dancers, including musical theater and ballroom. They give a certain flair to the overall costume!
If your dancer is still young, keep with the footed tights for now. Before you know it, I’m sure you’ll have a drawer filled with tights of different styles and shades to complement her dancing!