I’ve been promising some answers to the comments you left in reply to my request for you to tell me the issues you (if you are a dancin’ boy) or your sons face as male dancers. Today, I’ll begin.
I’ll start with the topic of costumes and dance clothes for boys. This is a tough one, and I don’t have a lot of great answer.
When Julian was very young, he danced in girls leggings. I would go to Target and buy heavy leggings there or give him hand-me-down ones from his sister. They weren’t always that tight, and he liked that. He used these for ballet and jazz. They were really cheap.
Later, he wore uni-sex jazz pants, but ballet tights became a problem; as he got taller and ready for real ballet tights, it was difficult to find them in his size. We opted to order them from Discount Dance Supply. (You can find their catalogue on line.) In fact, we ordered most of his dance attire from this catalogue, including ballet shoes.
As for costumes, the studios where Julian has danced have all been pretty good about finding him male-oriented costumes. One year he was a wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and another year he was James Bond wearing a real white Tuxedo jacket, white shirt, black bow tie and a cummerbun with jazz pants. However, we did do some searching around for other costumes at vintage stores and such. We picked up some great ’70s clothes at one such shop, which we had to have altered. They were huge! (Light blue pants and a matching shirt with beige patenleather shoes.) We even bought shoes and had them made into tap shoes. Julian as a very cute John Travolta in a Bee Gee’s medley.
That said, last year the guys were forced to wear a tie-die maternity shirt with the arms cut off for a tap piece. They also wore gauchos in one number. They weren’t too happy about either “costume.”
I think if you or your son really object to a costume, you need to speak up. Period. Simply don’t stand for it. Most studios have no clue about dressing a boy. We were lucky. The studios where Julian danced had costumed many boys prior to him and seemed pretty sensitive to the issue. If they put him in a pink leotard with some black jazz pants, though, I would have ha some thing to say about it. That said, you might then have to come up with another option. So, start looking around for a great seamstress or a retired costume designer. For instance, we have one who teaches a sewing class for the local recreation department.
This past summer while we were in New York City I found a dancewear store on Madison Avenue that will die clothing any color you like. On Stage Dancewear makes what they call “custom menswear,” which means you pick the style and the color (and the size). That’s a huge help when you need something for a performance.
Julian still wears M. Stevens tights exclusively. He wears the company’s dance belts as well; he says they are the most comfortable. However, he owns two Danskin dance belts. The cotton one he has “gotten used to” even thought it is thicker in the back, and he was forced to purchase a padded one for a “revealing” costume recently. He hasn’t complained about it.
Julian prefers Sasha ballet shoes. He wears Miller and Ben tap shoes. He likes pull on jazz shoes, but he only wears them under duress. For jazz, modern and contemporary ballet he dances in socks. (We go through a lot of socks…)
Julian prefers “wife beaters” for almost all classes. (Sorry…I hate that name.) Or he wears some sort of tight white t-shirt for ballet.
By the way, if you were wondering about what Julian is up to these days, I’ll briefly fill you in: This weekend he’s finishing up his role as “Richie” in A Chorus Line at the high school. He’s had a lot of fun, made some friends (the point of doing it), received a little voice training and practice, and gotten another acting part under his belt. In the meantime, he and his partner decided to wait on the Youth American Grande Prix competition until the fall (thank goodness). They haven’t been rehearsing much anyway since Julian’s 2nd Stage performance and A Chorus Line geared up two weeks ago.
Julian has cut his student choreography piece down a little to make it eligible for some competitions. He’ll be entering it in several locally.
Although Julian thought being in the school musical would make it impossible for him to be in several pieces of choreography at TDC, he lucked out and has made it into every piece he could possible dance in. He auditioned and was chosen for a piece with Amy Seibert, K.T. Nelson, Kara Davis, Ehud Kraus, and Heather Cooper. The choreographers all agreed to work around his crazy schedule until the musical is over. He’s understandably happy about that…although at the moment you wouldn’t know it because it’s complicating his A Chorus Line schedule. (He’s been arriving 30 minutes instead of 3 hours before performances because of TDC rehearsals.)