Everything You Need to Know About Ballet Tutus

Did you know that ballet originated in the 15th century? It began in the Renaissance courts when noblemen and women at lavish events wore extraordinary outfits while performing dance spectacles. This later was accepted in France, Russia, and other European countries.

Today, ballet is a worldwide famous and appreciated art that people enjoy. Besides the choreography and music, the most important part of the performance is the outfit, especially the tutu. This piece of clothing can tell a story and communicate with the audience during the performance.

Types of Tutus

Romantic Tutu

This is the original tutu, the one that started it all. It was first introduced in 1832 in Paris. This skirt is long and can reach from just above the ankle of the dancer up to just below the knees. It’s very light and airy and it looks so delicate. It’s made of around 3-6 layers of soft tulle that look flowy and very feminine. The romantic tutu can start at the waist, or at the hip. The second type is also known as a romantic tutu with basque.

Classical Tutu

As soon as the pointe shoe technique started to improve and increase, the skirts needed to change and adjust. This is where the classic tutu came into play. There’s a big variety of beautiful ballet tutus for sale on the market. Manufacturers offer so many choices that it can be hard to make a decision sometimes. Many professionals and amateurs consider this to be the most beautiful ballerina skirt of all time.

Classical Tutu
Source: dancedirect.com

Its purpose was to show the ballerina’s legs and the elegance of the performance. It also gave the dancer a wider range of motion for their moves, and they could now add more sophisticated new steps. This tutu’s design has the tulle standing out horizontally from the ballerina’s hips. Nowadays, we have four types of classic tutus: pancake, platter, bell and powder-puff tutu.

Pancake Tutu

This is a very common type of tutu that was featured in Swan Lake, La Bayadere and Don Quixote. This is what comes to mind for many people when they hear the word tutu. It has a few layers of tulle and net and comes straight out at the hips. Dancers often combine it with a pair of briefs to stop it from falling down.

To maintain the shape, this skirt has a wire hoop installed between the layers of tulle. It gives a stiff look and keeps the skirt together. Plus, it creates a bouncy movement that adds to the dancer’s performance.

Platter Tutu

If you’re not a professional or an amateur dancer, you probably won’t notice the difference between a platter and a pancake tutu. They’re very similar in their design and only a costume designer or a dancer can recognise the difference. The main difference is the top layer of the skirt. The pancake top is pleated, but the platter tutu has a flat top with decorations.

Platter Tutu
Source: dancemaxdancewear.com

Bell Tutu

Just as the name suggests, the bell tutus are named because of their shape. They’re short, stiff and shaped like a bell. There are multiple layers of netting stacked upon each other and they’re framed to flow down. However, there are no wires or hoops to hold them. Instead, the skirt is loosely tacked to keep its shape and form.

Powder-puff Tutu

This is a short dance tutu that won’t stick out as far as a pancake or a platter one. It also has several layers of netting and no hoop to hold them. When on, this skirt gives out a fuller and softer appearance because, without the wires, the skirt moves freely around the dancer and creates a more flowy movement.

Best Tutu Materials

These skirts were not always made of the same materials that we have today. When they were invented, designers used tarlatan. This is a cotton material that has a wide weave. The wide weave was stiffened to make the tutu stand still and look sturdy. Today’s skirts have a lot of layers in them and use more than 25m of material to look the way they do. It’s very important for the dancer to feel comfortable and have flexibility.

Manufacturers today use tulle. This is a thin, diamond-net fabric that’s very delicate. There are different types of tulle. Some are soft and will fold gently, while others are stiff. You can buy these materials where you find ballet tutus for sale which may be your local store or even specialised online dance stores. Some more contemporary designs include other materials such as plastic, Lycra or organza. Their design includes many colours, and you can find something for everyone. Some of them can be combined with underpants and some with comfortable dance tights.

How to Choose the Right Size

Even if you get the right material, the comfort level still greatly depends on the size. Every dancer should take a few measurements before buying their tutu. They should wear a well-fitted bra, stand up straight without holding their breath and have lightweight leotards. The best way to measure is with a soft measuring tape. The first step is to measure the bust at its fullest part. Second is the waist at its natural indentation.

ballet tutu
Source: dancer.nyc

Third, measure from the armpit to the waist area. Fourth, start from the base of the neck all the way to the bottom edge of the waist. Next, is the basque’s depth. This is the distance from the waist to the edge of the tutu. The length is an individual choice so every dancer will choose accordingly.

How to Carry and Store the Tutu

Just like any other sporting or dancing equipment, the tutu needs proper storage space. You can’t just carry it in a regular backpack or a bag. It requires a special tutu bag. This way it won’t get damaged or crushed during transport. There are bags in many sizes, so they’ll fit any tutu on the market. Some stores even offer a custom-made bag for your skirt.

If by any chance you can’t transport the tutu flat, always fold it upside down. This will keep it from spoiling the lift of the ruffles. When you want to store it, you can do it on a tutu hanger. Avoid the standard one because it can stretch the material or tear the panty. And finally, make sure the tutu has enough space around it. Separate it from the other clothes to avoid wrinkles and damage.