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The Romantic Tutu Skirt

While ballet tutus can take on many forms, when most people hear the word “tutu” they envision the ethereal Romantic style tutu skirt.  In honor of its timeless beauty, we would like to take a moment and share a little bit about this classic tutu style.

The Romantic Era of Ballet

The Romantic Tutu made its debut during the early to mid-19th century, a time in which “romanticism” in art and literature held great influence over the creation of new ballets. By many historical accounts, the Romantic period is considered to have begun with the 1827 Paris debut of La Sylphide where the Romantic Tutu skirt was first worn by Marie Taglioni.

Marie Taglioni, La Sylphide wearing the first Romantic Tutu Marie Taglioni, La Sylphide wearing the first Romantic Tutu

Many of these Romantic Ballet stories told tales of conflict between man and nature, society and the supernatural.  This era put the ballerina center stage “floating” on the tip of a toe in the forms of sylphs (La Sylphide), wilis (Giselle), and other ghostly spirits—who enslaved the hearts and senses of mortal men.

Carlotta Grisi, 1841 as Giselle Carlotta Grisi, 1841 as Giselle

The Romantic Tutu Skirt

Due to this marked supernatural influence, the second act of these Romantic ballets (representing the spirit realm) began to be called the “white act” or “ballet-blanc”.  The corresponding costume was an elegant white skirt made of layers upon layers of tulle (fine netting). This other-worldy white skirt was what we’ve come to know as the Romantic Tutu Skirt.  This ghostly vision was enhanced with new developments in theater effects such as gas lighting (that could be dimmed), posing en pointe, and the use of wires to make dancers “fly”.

What is a Romantic Tutu Skirt?

Romantic Tutus are long, floating and ethereal.  They are usually 3-5 layers of soft tulle.  These soft layers can begin at the waist (Romantic Tutu) or fall from the high hip for a dropped waist look (Romantic Tutu with Basque).

At Class Act Tutu, we LOVE romantic tutu skirts.  From the famous classic white to today’s vivid, colorful layers, we have the skill and ingenuity to create the tutu of your dreams!  We encourage you to put one on and get busy enslaving hearts!

From Vail International Dance Festival, International Festival of Dance II, Giselle, August 4, 2012.  From Vail International Dance Festival, International Festival of Dance II, Giselle, August 4, 2012.
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