Strapless Ballet Tutus-Can They Work?

Natalie Portman Black Swan Ballet Costume
Made For Hollywood Black Swan Costume Without Straps

After the popular movie Black Swan came out in theaters across the country, interest in the fitting and designing of classical tutus took an upswing. The fashion designers responsible for creating the strapless classical tutu for the Black Swan role were interviewed by many newspapers and fashion magazines. The tutu Natalie Portman wore as the Black Swan was a “fashion forward” concept.

The Black Swan ballet costume made for this movie was created without straps. This leads to the question; do real ballerinas dance on stage wearing strapless classical ballet costumes?

The world of Hollywood and movie making can be incredibly far from the truths of real life. In the ballet world where a dancer needs as much security from her costume as possible, strapless tutus are a fantasy indeed.

Secure, well-placed straps on a ballerina’s costume are a must-have. If the dancer is to feel completely free on stage, she must be certain that her costume will stay in place during her performance.

Natalie Portman’s co-star in this film, Mila Kunis, can be quoted as saying this about strapless classical ballet costumes:

You would never go and do ‘Swan Lake’ and wear a full-on swan outfit without having a strap to hold the outfit up.Given that it is in a movie and it is a certain form of disbelief. They had no straps. So, the busts kept constantly falling, you know. And so you make it work. You figure it out. But they were beautiful.”

Natalia Makarova As The Black Swan

When you watch this beautiful video of Makarova, can you imagine her doing something so physical in a strapless costume? As you can see, Makarova is secure in her movements on stage without having to worry about an accidental “exposure” to the audience.

Strapless ballet tutus are not the norm in the ballet world where a ballerina is truly an athlete. As ballet performances continue to demand more and more physicality from the dancer, secure straps will become even more important to ballet costume design than ever before.


  1. So glad you wrote about this. I have very strong opinions on Ballet Films. I think only a Ballerina can portray a Ballerina, and as you very clearly demonstrate in this topic, the Dress would not have worked on a real Ballerina in a real Ballet. The Red Shoes worked, I must admit I havent seen this film in its entirety but I know I would be irritated.

  2. After this movie came out, I noticed many searchers on Google looking for strapless tutus which definitely doesn’t work for real ballet 🙂

  3. Hollywood are always trying to uncover as much as possible of the female body. A strapless tutu is a terrible idea and a real ballerina would not be in it very long before the inevitable and embarrasing exposure took place.

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