For many men, the idea of having to get their sweet baby girl ready for a ballet lesson is daunting to say the least. Soccer practice? No problem. Piano lessons, how hard can that be? But, ballets with its tutus, uptight hair-dos, dress codes, and, let’s face it, posse of stage-moms in training-downright intimidating.
For many men, the idea of having to get their sweet baby girl ready for a ballet lesson is daunting to say the least. Soccer practice? No problem. Piano lessons, how hard can that be? But, ballets with its tutus, uptight hair-dos, dress codes, and, let’s face it, posse of stage-moms in training—downright intimidating.
WHAT TO WEAR
Ballet schools run the gamut with respect to dress code. On the more liberal end, the brass tacks requirements are tights, leotard and ballet slippers. Stricter schools will post a dress code that requires a specific color of leotard, tights and slippers. Usually these schools will have a website that lists their dress-code requirements. It is common that different classes will wear different colors of leotard, so it is important to find out which class your child is attending. Some school even specify a style number and brand of leotard. In these cases, you will generally have to go to a dancewear store to find the right thing. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales clerk to help you. The sizes do not necessarily correspond to your child’s street clothes/ shoe size. When in doubt, go with simple style without any attached skirts or decorations.
If the school does not specify, buy leather ballet slippers with a full leather bottom. The shoes should be tight (but not too tight) as they will stretch with use. There is no shame in leaving the finer point of fitting to the teacher on the first day (just arrive early if this is your plan). If you want to fit the shoes, have your daughter stand while wearing her shoes. Pull the elastic strings until there are no gaps and a snug fit. The fit shouldn’t be painful or cut-off blood-flow. Once you have the desired fit, you will knot the strings and snip the excess. Leave about an inch of string and then tuck this excess into the shoe. Most schools use pink slippers for girls, boys often use black.
There are several types of tights as well. Most schools will not specify anything other than color. Some tights have feet; others stop at the ankle (footless) and a third type (referred to as “transition tights”) has a hole in the bottom of the foot. These tights can be worn as full tights or around the child’s ankle. If your child already has gear, and you are just buying an emergency replacement pair of tights, most big-box stores and department stores will carry pink tights that will do the job in a pinch.
If you have a son taking ballet classes, the dress code is fairly consistent. Usually a white t-shirt, black ballet slippers and either black shorts or black tights. Check the school’s website for specifics.
Even the most motivated of ballet moms is intimidated by the dreaded “classical ballet bun.” While this hair style is intended to elongate the dancer line while keeping the dancer’s hair out of her face, what it does in practice is cause tears and screaming fits in the morning before class. Again, the amount of stress induced by doing your child’s hair is directly proportional to the strictness of the school’s dress code.
Before I continue, if your child’s hair is chin length or shorter, do not attempt the ballet bun. It simply isn’t going to happen. Pull the top portion of you child’s hair off of her face with a barrette or headband.
If your school is on the more liberal end of the spectrum and your daughter’s hair isn’t too long, you can get by with a cheater-bun. Comb your daughter’s hair into a tight ponytail in the middle of her head. Wrap the ponytail elastic around her hair, keeping it tight against her head. When the elastic seems like it will only wrap one more time around, pull the hair through but leave the tail end stuck in the elastic. You will have a loop of hair sticking out but the “tail” of the ponytail will remain in the elastic. This is not a true bun, but will get you through the lesson.
If you child’s hair is too long for the cheater bun or the school has a more strict dress code, you will have to attempt the ballet bun. Click here for step by step instructions on how to make a true ballet bun.
WHAT ELSE TO BRING
Ballet slippers can only be worn inside the dance studio, so your child will have to arrive in street shoes and change at the school. For safety reasons, many schools will not let students attend class without shoes so it’s a good idea to get a bag in which to keep your child’s dance gear. Your child should arrive to class with warm-up gear or street clothes over their dance clothes. Other items to consider bringing: a bottle of water and non-messy snack like pretzels for after the class; extra bobby-pins and hairspray.
Make sure you take your daughter to the bathroom before class. It is difficult for young children to manage getting their leotard and tights off by themselves. It is also very disruptive for a child to leave for a potty break in the middle of class. Many schools will not let parents watch the lesson, so bring something to keep you entertained while your child dances. Finally, have fun—they don’t stay little for long.
Jeanine Womble is an attorney and mother of an aspiring ballerina and a 3 foot tall cyclone of toddler-hood. She is also a step-parent to three now adult step-children. She lives in the Washington, DC metro area but yearns for the mild summers and dropped r’s of her childhood in New England.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
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