How to Avoid the 4 Biggest Tutu Mistakes
So…you have landed your dream role…you made competition finals…you have an audition. What do you wear? Here are some things to consider:
1) Don't Be Shy About Your Budget
A professional tutu is a major investment. Generally expect to pay $500.00 or more for an undecorated professional tutu and extras such as fancy fabrics or embellishment can add up.
- If you determine and communicate your tutu budget from the start, your tutu maker can create a design that you can afford. Don’t be shy about asking for ways to cut costs!
- The more you can do yourself, the more you can save. For example, if your costumer offers standard sizing, you may save a substantial amount by purchasing a standard size and altering to fit yourself. Learning how to sew a rhinestone on your tutu is money in the bank!
2) Tutu Ordering Takes Longer than you Think!
Time is a critical factor in getting your perfect tutu and performing well in it.
- Allow time to “shop.” Check with as many tutu makers as you can to make certain you get the right tutu. Tutu makers tend to have a signature “style”. Choose one whose style matches your taste.
- Permit time for sewing. Most tutu makers request at least 6-8 week lead time. Longer is better when it comes to custom. The more time you have to attend to detail, the greater the guarantee that you will get the costume that you want.
- Consider the time for finishing the fit. The more time you have to fine-tune the fit, the better your tutu will look and feel.
- Plan for time to embellish. If you are planning to embellish your own garment, you will need time to visualize different options and get those sparkles in place.
- Allow time to dance! Finally, get your tutu early enough so that you can dance in it—tutus can take some getting used to and fit will loosen after wearing and sweating. If you are used to dancing in Lycra®, a boned and fitted bodice will take some practice.
3) Reuse and Recycle your Tutu
Consider the design and fit in terms of the long run.
- If you want a tutu that you can use over and over, choose a basic color and opt for removable embellishment. A plain white classical tutu can be dressed up in many ways with embellishment for roles like Odette, Cinderella, Snow Queen, and so on.
- Know where your tutu can be altered before you buy. If you can alter both width and height, you will get much more use out of your tutu. Ask your costumer for a sample of your fabric and netting to use for future alteration and/or repair.
- For the long haul, it is also important to consider how to clean your tutu (and its embellishment).
4) Choosing the Right Design
There are many elements that go into the design of a tutu. Here are some things to consider.
- Consider the role and/or preferences of the director. Many ballet roles come with a set look. Think La Sylphide and the white, flowing, and ethereal romantic style tutu—or Sleeping Beauty’s traditional longer bell shaped form. Look at books, magazines and attend performances for inspiration and guidance.
- Remember what looks good on you. If your need doesn’t warrant a specific style or you have the option to choose your costume, consider what form, color, shape, and length of tutu looks good on you.
- Skirt length should consider height of the dancer. Generally, the taller the dancer, the longer the skirt should be. A rule of thumb in the fashion world is, “To look taller and slimmer, wear skirts that appear longer than they are wide.” This could be a challenge to the “Pancake” style tutu.
- Use “style lines” to create a flattering silhouette. This can be done with embellishment, with seam lines and with garment shape. For example, use vertical lines on the parts of your body that you want to lengthen. A deep neckline can make your neck look longer (like a swan!). Wear lines that converge (come together) on the parts of your body that you want to look smaller. Use a “V” shape to point at and minimize your waist. Curved lines are very feminine—think sweetheart neckline on your bodice.
- Think about the venue and setting. If you are performing on the big stage, embellishment may need to be “larger than life” in order to show, but in an intimate theater or audition situation over-embellishment can be a major distraction. The tutu is there to flatter the dancer—not steal the eye of the viewer.
- Flatter your dancing. Be cautious with very long, hooped skirts. They can take on a bouncing life of their own and be difficult to control. To paraphrase Balanchine, hoops can cause skirts to take on movement of their own…in ways that are not always musically appropriate.
- Consider your partner. If you are partnering, remember that your tutu keeps your “Prince” or “Cavalier” a set distance from you. The further the distance, the more difficult finding balance may be.
Now you are on your way to getting ready for your big performance!