Male ballet dancers do not seem to be a priority for most dance-wear brands leaving us with functional and very plain male ballet dance-wear. Female ballet dancers can chose from a really wide range of brands and styles; unfortunately male ballet dancers don’t have that luxury. As a result, most male dancers prefer to turn to regular sports brands for light fabrics and the latest heat and sweat absorption features.
Evolution of the male ballet dancer role
For most people when we think ballet, we imagine a female dancer wearing a tutu and pointe shoes. During the 20th century, the role of the male dancer in ballet has greatly evolved and grown. From a secondary place, male dancers are increasingly taking a lead role in masterpieces such as Mayerling by Kenneth MacMillan. Male ballet dancing in the 21st century involve realistic characters necessitating mature interpretation. Male ballet dancing nowadays include solos with more technique and virtuoso than in the past.
The current male dance-wear offering is limited
As a male Principal dancer, I take class every morning for continuous training. In the afternoon, I rehearse upcoming performances alongside my colleagues. Like any physical activity, ballet dancers need specific clothes to avoid chafing, to let see our movements and to absorb the heat and sweat. That said, ballet is also artistic activity and dancers, maybe more than others, want to look good in their clothes.
So when I got an opportunity to work with an established dancewear brand and create my own range of male ballet dance-wear, I said yes! I quickly started sketching and reviewed my notes on my colleagues’ thoughts about the perfect male dance clothes.
My top 5 criteria to chose my male dance-wear
Male dance-wear with comfortable fabrics to feel good!
The most obvious criteria for me is that I want to feel good in my dance wear. I’m always looking for fabrics that is light and soft to the skin. A funny story: when I first received the leggings fabrics that Lina chose for my collection “Le danseur”, I was very skeptical because the fabrics looked so thick. But as I wore them through training, I was very impressed by how comfy they felt. They were hugging my body enough to be supported and the stretch makes them feel light. I can say that I would have never chosen this fabrics myself; and that’s why I decided to design my first collection with a professional and trust her completely for the fabrics selection.
A design that adapts to my needs
Now the design is very important to me. I’ve observed how we roll, fold, pull, re-adjust certain parts of our dancewear. Sometimes it’s just a habit to do something in between exercises; but often it’s because our clothes are not designed to accommodate our activity. I’ve noticed many dancers bothered by how their clothes would move as they dance. Dancers are just getting used it because there are no alternatives. Well, I want to change that! And my objective is to keep improving my designs based on your feedback. Because we should not get used to being annoyed by our clothes, our clothes should support our dance activity.
Male dance-wear with stylish and an artistic patterns to look good
Have you noticed how the female dancewear offering is bright, with hundreds of different patterns and a wide range of colours used, whereas male ballet dance-wear comes in unicolour white, grey, brown and black? I’m exaggerating, sometimes it’s bicolour!
I was thrilled when Lina proposed to use a light blue fabrics for my leggings and three different colors for the leg warmers. The dark blue leg warmers is the only colour that I was used to seeing in the ballet studio. I really recommend young dancers to chose something in which they feel and look good, especially for auditions. If you are not at ease, it will affect your dancing.
I’m planning to expand the choice of patterns and colours available for the upcoming items. Of course, I will also continue to propose more traditional colours for the occasions that require us to remain sober and also for the days we feel like keeping it simple.
Different models to adapt to my mood
Speaking of mood, have you noticed how your dress can affect your mood? And vice versa, your mood can affect your choice of clothes for the day. That’s one of the reasons I made sure to offer the leggings in different lengths. Usually I prefer full-length leggings but sometimes I get to the studio with a strong inclination towards shorts. And maybe for you it’s the opposite: you’re a shorts guy who sometimes enjoy long leggings.
There are days I want to dress very simply and basic, other days I want simple and elegance, sometimes I’m looking for a stylish look, and occasionally I want to look rad’. At the same time I have also noticed that wearing a certain piece of clothes helps me change my mood. That’s even more evident when the motivation is low because it’s raining outside or I’m tired. On those days I need the right outfit to switch into a happy training mode.
I’m working towards a full blown collection that will cover all the different moods of a male dancer.
Protect Earth with a male dance-wear collection that uses sustainable fabrics
I could have chosen to partner up with a famous dance-wear brand but I decided to work with Dance by Lina instead. I chose her brand because Lina only uses repurposed fabrics. Sometimes the fashion industry buys fabrics but cancel the collection, or they realise the fabrics is not suited for the pattern, or they do not need the whole bulk. The unused fabrics is sent to some warehouses to be disposed. Lina is one of the few who buys that fabrics and give it a second life. That means that my collection of dance clothes is only using fabrics that was already manufactured. Also important to me: Lina works with local seamstresses and supports her local economy.
For a long time, I had been thinking about creating my own dance clothes collection, but it was a distant dream. Thanks to the support provided by Dance by Lina dancewear, in less that six months we created the first leggings. That’s a lesson from my ballet training: let your partner do their job, focus on being at your best!
I’d love to hear what you think of my first items and what you’d like me to create next. Please share your thoughts in comments.