ballet girl

Important Dancewear Terms to Know

Has your child been dancing for years? Have they just recently become interested in the activity? Regardless of your answer, if you have a child who dances, it’s imperative you get to know the important dancewear terms you will encounter.

As the parent, it’s your job to ensure your tiny dancer has everything they need, but how can you do this if you don’t know what everything is.

Here you can learn more about dancewear and the most important terms you need to know.

The Leotard

Before talking about what a leotard is, you should know what it’s not. It’s not a unitard, legatard, bodysuit or suit.

Virtually any female dancer who is taking ballet (regardless of age) requires a leotard. Some male dancers require them, too. There are some leotards made specifically for dance garments, and they are not intended to be used as swimwear or “regular clothing.”

If you are searching for quality leotards for your dance costumes, visit sites such as Just for Kix.


Again, there are a few “wrong” names for tights worn by dancers. These incorrect names include leggings, pantyhose, stockings, and legatards.

The tights are possibly the most ubiquitous of all dancewear items. Female dancers require them for ballet, and they are also worn for contemporary, ballroom, tap and jazz dancing, too.

Today, tights can be purchased in a wide array of styles, including footless, convertible and full-footed. Much like the leotard, dance tights are made specifically for athletic performance. The tights used by dancers are more opaque and thicker than fashion tights, and while they can be worn beneath dresses, they aren’t meant for this.

Male dancers also wear tights for ballet. In most cases, these tights resemble women’s athletic or fashion leggings, but they are cut to accommodate the male body properly. While the garment looks like leggings, they are actually called tights.

Dance Shoes

There is a wide array of dance shoe options. Each one provides a different function. If you enter a store and simply request “dance shoes,” there’s a good chance the salesperson won’t be able to help. You need to know the specific type of dance shoes needed.

The dance shoes you will encounter include:

Ballet shoes: If your child is taking ballet, they need ballet shoes. This is true for males and females. In most cases, females wear pink shoes, while the males wear white or black ones. In some cases, these are called flat shoes in many cases, to differentiate them from pointe shoes.

Pointe shoes: Only advanced dancers will use pointe shoes, so if your child is just starting out, they will not need these.

Jazz shoes: These are the shoes used for Broadway and jazz dance styles, or for drill teams. Most jazz shoes are slip on, while others are lace-up.

Tap shoes: If your child is taking tap classes, they will need tap shoes. There are several styles, ranging from Oxford style shoes for men, to Mary-jane patent leather shoes for young girls.

Flamenco shoes: Similar to traditional high-heel shoes for women, flamenco shoes are only needed by more advanced dancers. Flamenco shoes for men are similar to cowboy boots.

In most cases, your child’s dance instructor will let you know what type of shoes you need to purchase and what color or style to buy. This is usually to ensure that everyone in the class has a uniform appearance.

Now that you understand the basic dancewear, you are ready to ensure your dancer is equipped. Are you ready to go shopping?