In the early days, when the dance was a social court pastime, dancers used to wear their clothes rather than the designed and fancy dancewear worn today. In ballet, men wore elaborated, stiff brocaded coats, knee breeches, wigs, and swords belted to their waists. Ladies were tightly laced up in long-sleeved bodices and panniered skirts. These outfits were heavy to carry, making the dancers uncomfortable and allowing them for little body movements. Thus, the steps executed by the dancers were simple and dignified.
Evolution of Techniques and Outfits
The evolution of ballet techniques initiated with the establishment of the Academie Nationale de Musique et de Danse by Louis XIV in 1661. The emergence of professional dancers further made this dance form complex. They raised their level by adding graceful movements involving the body to move freely. While performing professionally on stage, women incorporated quick beats of the feet and multiple pirouettes into their dances. With all the swirls and whirls, whirling skies were made a necessary part of the ballet outfit. It prevents the legs from being revealed so much that it reduces the elegance of the dancer and their performance. When the Leotards and tights weren’t invented, the practicing outfits made it difficult to figure out whether the dancers were at a party or warming up.
Marie Camargo Made the Efforts Visible
Marie Camargo, the first dancer to shorten the length of her skirt from her costume. Her decision made her footwork easily visible to the audience for which she was appreciated and praised. Marie Salle, Camargo’s rival, took this to the next level by discarding her petticoats and danced in a flimsy muslin dress.
The French Revolution also Contributed here!
At the end of the 18th century, during the French Revolution, there were many changes in dancewear. They were made simple, lightweight, and clinging robes were added by seeking inspiration from the Greek models. These robes were trending on stage as well as off stage.
During this time only, Maillot, a costume designer at Paris Opéra, invented tights. This new invention brought a significant change in the ballet practice clothes. The dancers were finally happy to have an outfit that was appropriate to their dance form. It was the one that allowed them to move freely and practice elegantly.
When the Leotards came in
Modern dancers of the time when Leotards came into existence, preferred wearing them. Leotards were invented by the trapeze artist, Jules Leotard. Originally, the leotard was composed of a close-fitting suit of knitted jerseys that reached to the wrists and the ankles. For women, it came with a short fringed skirt. Today leotards are accepted widely as a uniform for dancers all around the world. They are designed and manufactured in various attractive patterns, in different colors, and with different fabric materials.
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