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Tutus - The Origin

Before the tutu came along ballet dancers were forced to don elaborate, bulky costumes many of which involved wigs, masks and extremely heavy garments. In fact, in the early days of classical ballet, when heavy ballroom attire was the norm, it was not unusual to see a dancer covered from head to toe.

Although pirouetting while sweating inside ten pounds of velvet and lace was far from ideal, in the days before ballet began to evolve dancers relied heavy upon their cumbersome costumes to convey certain feelings to the audience. In these days it was the costume rather than the dancerís movements that spoke to the audience to tell the story.

As ballet began to evolve as an art form dancers began to notice that the costumes they wore were interfering with their ability to express themselves fully. Instead of helping them to express feeling ballet dancers began to feel that their costumes were restricting their creativity.

Some time around the early 1700ís bulky ballet outfits began to disappear and in their place came more delicate, feminine costumes which allowed dancers to move more fluidly, allowing the audience to see every step and every movement of their bodies. It was at this time that movement replaced costuming as the primary form of expression in ballet.

The first tutu is said to have been merely a skirt cut to just above the ankles to reveal the feet.

As ballet dancers became more and more skilled over the years their skirts became increasing shorter.

As skirts became shorter two types of tutu eventually emerged: the long romantic version (or Juliet style) and the shorter, more provocative style (now often called the Classic tutu).