Tools of the Trade: Ballet #1: The dance belt

by Henrik on January 21, 2010

I figured I’d start with a juicy one!

Men in dance-belts, an undergarment used by most male dancers

Men wearing dance-belts

The dance belt is an undergarment worn by all classical (and most other) male dancers. It is shaped as a slip, although with a thong back, to prevent the garment from showing under tights. The key to understanding why so many men (and no, its not because we’re all strange!) chooses to wear such a untypical clothes, is purpose!

It’s really quite simple. Imagine that you spend a fair part of your day jumping. Often not only up and down (which can be tough enough), but moving in all kinds of twisted positions, splits, spinning in-air, turning on your legs (geez, writing this makes me realize what a fucked up job I have). In short: a lot of sudden movements. For a man, this means comfort-issues “down there”. Small or big, long or short, sexual preferences aside – it hurts when your balls smack against your thigh. So we need something to keep it all in one spot, no matter what – kind of like a sports bra for any female athlete; it’s all in the fix.

By the way, I wrote another post on what the girls wear under their leotards – way cooler, right?!

I could have written a lot on the prejudices linked to male dancers and so on and so fourth, but then again, for what? If you really want to believe we wear these clothes and do these things because of some twisted sexual preference or anything down that road, knock yourself out! UPDATE: guess I did comment it anyway..

In the end, the dance-belt is a tool of the trade! As the mason wears protective shoes to prevent his toes from braking, we wear dance-belts, also to prevent, well, uncomfortable situations. And that’s all there is to it.

Keep an eye out for more tools of the trade, explaining all the crazy things we use in everyday life as dancers.

Hint: Navigate around Tights and Tiaras by using the Navigation Menu on top of the page. See it? Now hover your mouse over the “columns” section.. Cool, eh? I love technology :)


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Hege January 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Hello there
I remember the little one, buying his first ballet belt while visiting London. Do you remember?


Henrik August 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

Oh, yes, I do! Now that little fellow would have been happy to have a blog like this to read – he was a little bit confused to find that half of the slip was missing..

There is – I found out about the time when that little fellow didn’t want to wear his new belt – also full-bottomed dance belts, but I never got it. If your’e going to wear something that shows through your tights anyway, you might as well wear boxers.


lisa February 15, 2010 at 6:14 pm

How do you feel about the costumes
you have to wear are there any you hated wearing?
Do you ever feel overexposed on stage?

How many more questions will I ask?
probably alot!you might end up wanting to block me!


Nikkii TheCBTA April 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

hahaaa….great post! Some Adult ballet ladies just asked this very question the other day in class. Must be a hott topic. Thanks funny bit on this for sure!


Henrik April 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Glad to enlighten you all! :) Check out the other tools of the trade posts for more insights ;) H


Todd April 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Love it! Great post! However, you didn’t elaborate on what happens when a male dancer mistakenly forgets his dance belt. In my opinion this has to be one of the absolute worst moments of anxiety for any male dancer, I know it has been for me. That sinking realization when rifling through your dance bag over and over, quicker each time, it’s not there, you forgot it at home……. EEEEEK!

I think probably every professional male dancer has had this happen atleast once in their career. In fact, everytime you hear that “OH S**T!!!” from a fellow male dancer in the dressing room who is standing there frozen staring at their dance bag someone is always quick to ask, “did you forget your dancebelt?” I have seen guys forget their dancebelts for important auditions, lecture demonstrations, and performances. It is the worst when it happens because there is not much you can do to “fake it”.

True story; when I was younger, one of my fellow male dancers in Joffrey II forgot his dance belt for a morning lecture demonstration and he had to do Spring Waters Pas Des Deux. None of us in the dressing room had an extra dance belt and he would have caught hell for forgetting his dance belt so he actually rolled up his underwear elastic real tight kind of making it look like a dance belt and did the pas de deux like that. All I am gonna say is thank goodness the tights were dark blue and will leave the rest to your own imaginations.

Remember guys, always double check to make sure you have the dance belt in the dancebag before you leave home :)


Henrik May 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

You are too right – forgetting your dance-belt at home is the worst disaster. Happily I have not forgotten it before a performance or such, but I have arrived in the theatre or school several times for class, only to find out my dancebelt is home – bummer.
It really DOES suck, because there is not much you can do. I’m glad your former colleague managed to fix something with his tights, but honestly, I’m not sure if I’d want to see the outcome. Most time, if I forget my dancebelt, I just have to go home and get it. Also, it’s a very intimate clothing, and I wouldn’t want to borrow someone elses unless I absolutely had to…
I have worked out a system, though, where I leave at least a couple of dance-belts in my changing-room, so that I always have one in hand. The trick is to never bring all your dancebelts home to wash at the same time, always have a pair or two left there – the you’re set. But this gets complicated once you start touring, for example.
But I think we both agree: Guys, don’t forget your dance-belts! Check, Double check, check again – tights, shoes, shirts – they are all expandable. Dancebelts not so much.. :)


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