Fashion from the Vault

On days when putting on a leotard and tights seems too inhibiting, or even slightly torturous, take a moment to think about how far innovations in textiles and dancewear fashion have come. Yes, this may sound a lot like a grandparent recalling barefoot treks to school in the snow. But consider this paragraph from Dance Magazine's March 1954 issue, which provided instructions to make your own leotard:

 

Before taking your measurements, as shown in illustration A, put on the underclothes you will be wearing with the leotard, including pants, girdle, dance belt, and a well-fitting bra. Use pads if necessary to attain an effective bust line.

 


Illustration A.

 

While the article doesn't specify which fabric to use, it's safe to say the author wasn't thinking of a soft cotton microfiber or Spandex—which wasn't even invented for another five years. In all likelihood, the fabric felt closer to a thick nylon parachute—which was then layered on top of other undergarments. The instructions also don't explicitly tell you how to translate all of your measurements to the patterns (picture at top). I could see my poorly-crafted leotard looking a lot like Charlie Brown's ghost costume.

 

So let's give thanks to the leotard designers and manufacturers that have carried us through the dark ages of dancewear to today, full of light, pliable and colorful styles we can easily purchase. And that we can keep those girdles locked securely in the vault.

Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

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Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

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