I attended in my lifetime – let me count – exactly two dozen ballet classes. To the first class I came in calf-long leggings, a sports bra and on bare feet. When I had called the studio, the assistant had told me that trying out barefoot is okay, and so I did. Well, the first decision I took was to buy slippers. It took me a while to figure out that I prefer the canvas ones to the leather ones, and not all that long to see that the Asian pink they mostly have here does not fit my cheesy white European feet. So I went searching and found slippers in European pink that fit very well.
My thighs are strong, and I felt that black leggings would hide them best, and in fact, everyone in that class was wearing a similar outfit (with one exception, and I will come to her). I didn’t feel like dressing up all ballet-y when I was just a very very very beginner, and I felt comfortable after I got my first pair of good slippers.
When I started class at another studio, hoping that I would learn faster, all the adult ladies there were wearing a burgundy leotard and pink tights. I asked my teacher if they had a dresscode, but she said for adults it would be fine to wear whatever they wanted. So I went there several times in the same yoga-like outfit I was wearing to the other class.
Until one day, I spoke to the girl dressed in black leos in the other class. She told me that for her, the costume, the leotard and skirt, actually help her to be concentrated and to work on her body – to be aware that she is dancing ballet. This sounded very reasonable to me and I decided I would try.
So I went and bought a leo and a skirt and two pairs of tights, one pink one white. Of course I wore this to my Monday class, where everyone is dressed like this. You can’t believe how awful I felt at first: The rest of the girls are slim Asian women, and here comes me, the fat European elephant with “a farmer’s legs” as one of my older family members once put it. And it’s not only that my figure is not very flattering, I am also one of the oldest yet least experienced learners.
But, it also felt very good, as I felt like I am actually doing ballet for the very first time. I try to tuck my belly in all the time because you can see it standing out very clearly in a leo, and this strengthens my abs and helps me hide my tailbone. I am also more aware of stretching my upper body due to the fact that I see my chest much better in a leo than a shirt. And then, of course, there is the argument that I can only buy all these beautiful leotards that are on the market when I actually wear them to class.
And in this first class in classical ballet outfit, I, by the way, got my first compliment from the teacher. She said she liked my pose as it seemed very confident. Believe me, I just pretended and was frustrated I didn’t get the steps right, but I learned an important lesson for myself: a leo and the right attitude wearing it make a ballerina.