One of the most important design elements on a classical ballet costume is the straps.
When I watch any ballet performance, I always pay more attention to the dancers movement, her pointe shoes, or the beauty of her classically designed costume in general. I never pay close attention to the straps of her costume. In thinking about all the various parts of a ballet costume, I realize just how important the straps really are to the overall fit and functionality of that costume.
What Are Straps Made Of?
In general, classical ballet costumes have straps made of elastic materials. Flesh-toned elastic is the least obtrusive color and gives the impression of a tutu bodice without straps during a performance. Because flesh-toned elastics blend in so well, audience members wont be distracted by the appearance of the straps.
Some classical tutus have embellishments sewn onto the straps for extra sparkle. Other types of bodice straps can include an extended bodice to create pretty sleeves for special costumes such as the peasant-style dance dress used in the Coppelia ballet.
Do Straps Have To Be Sewn On A Special Way?
The pretty blue ballet costume in the photo above has straps that branch out close to the top of the bodice. These two “branches” are constructed that way because the bodice top is curved. If only one strap was sewn on at the tip of the highest point, there would gaping in the material.
How Are Straps Supposed To Be Measured?
Sometimes a costume designer has to guess and leave enough extra length just in case the straps need to be adjusted later. If the straps are too tight they will pull the tutu up into the wrong place so it doesn’t sit right. Some general guidelines to keep in mind when measuring bodice straps:
- The elastic has to be carefully angled so that it doesn’t fall off the dancer’s shoulders. Too loose and basically the dancer can find herself “exposed” in the most embarrassing way.
- Depending on the individual, sometimes a little extra elastic has to be added at the front side for extra security.
- If the dancer is quite dark-skinned you may have to dye the elastic to match the skin tone.
As you can see, even the straps on a classically- designed bodice come with their own specifications. The details of costume design are so intricate, don’t you think? I would still love to know the secret of sewing elastic that “branches out” then comes back together again like the pale blue tutu in the first photo.
Whatever the secret is, I am sure that the lucky ballerina who danced in that costume felt safe, secure, and comfortable with the bodice straps made to measure just for her by Costume Creations.