What Dancers Want: Activewear for Dancers

Sophia Anthony (far right) prefers darker colors when teaching both dance and workout classes.

Activewear is certainly growing in popularity, with even Broadway performers now wearing leggings and tank tops in auditions. But dancers are looking for style and high quality, not just an attractive price. We investigated the hottest new trends in activewear, from teens to adults to seniors.

Sophia Anthony
Disney Equity performer, former
Rockette, personal trainer, dance
teacher at Spotlight Dance Center
Orlando, FL

DRN: What activewear do you prefer to wear when you’re teaching?

SA: I like to be comfortable but professional—darker leggings with a bright top is my go-to. I love halter tops with adjustable straps or a crisscross in the back, because they’re the most supportive of my bust. For style, I like anything with mesh, such as a mesh opening on the spine or mesh sleeves. I want to look cute, but not distracting.

DRN: What activewear are professionals now wearing in classes and at auditions?

SA: Everyone is still wearing formfitting clothing to show their silhouette, but the style then varies by the audition. For Moulin Rouge auditions, you might wear a darker, edgier outfit, but you want to stand out with intricate leggings or a tank top, or a bright-colored hair tie on your forearm. I still want a nice line if I’m in leggings, so I usually pair them with dark-colored character boots. I see a lot of crop tops or tank tops at auditions as well.

DRN: What other styles are you seeing as an instructor at both a studio and a gym?

SA: I wear a lot of long headbands that I can either double over to wear by themselves, or keep loose to wear with a workout hat. I also am more aware of my leggings as an instructor—cute, inexpensive leggings are often see-through, so I stick with darker, heavier fabrics in blacks, navies and maroons. In Bikram Yoga classes, I see what I call the “bathing-suit style” of shorts with a drawstring on the side, so you can vary their length, along with a sports bra with a strappy back.

Marguerite Braude
Pilates and yoga instructor,
personal trainer
Palm Bay, FL

DRN: As a yoga and Pilates instructor, what do you prefer to wear when you teach?

MB: I’m usually in leggings that are either spandex or a cotton/Lycra blend. I prefer a capri in warmer months and then a full leg in cooler months. On top, I usually wear a supportive T-back bra and a small, formfitting T-shirt, sometimes long-sleeve in the winter. One hundred percent cotton is too heavy when you’re sweating in class, so I prefer the sweat-wicking fabrics. Lycra undergarments offer the best support, and I stick with fun patterns or dark colors that won’t show my sweat. I’ve found that gray is just too revealing a color when you’re teaching multiple workout classes.

DRN: What suggestions do you have for your clients’ activewear?

MB: You really need to wear supportive clothing that helps hold in your muscles—it’s the best for supporting your veins, counteracting gravity and keeping you energized throughout the class. Loose pants just don’t work well in yoga and Pilates, and short shorts can also feel limiting to your movement. In yoga, clients who are wearing big T-shirts or baggy tank tops find that during inversions or downward dog, their shirt comes up over their head, so a high-neck top is best.

DRN: Are there any activewear accessories that you recommend for your students?

MB: For my older clients who might have foot problems, yoga socks or socks with grips work very well. I also suggest that everyone bring layers—if you’re working out in an air-conditioned room, you’ll need a sweater or long-sleeve top that you can easily remove in the middle of class. You can also start with a baggier pant over your leggings that can be easily stripped off.

Alison Carroll
Dancer at La Beatz Dance Studio
Newington, NH

DRN: You wear activewear to dance class. How does it change depending on the style of dance?

AC: For jazz, I go for bolder colors, like a neon green tank top with black shorts, but for contemporary, I like a more flowy top to help me feel graceful. I often wear a black, lacy crop top with leggings that go all the way down to my ankle to complete my line. For hip hop, I go for baggier clothing, like a T-shirt with a sports bra and sweatpants or spandex booty shorts. For all of my bras and tank tops, I prefer a racer-back with no molded cups that would restrict my movement.

DRN: What activewear trends are you seeing at competitions and conventions?

AC: I’ve seen a lot of bright-pink sports bras, as well as leggings and briefs. Booty shorts are starting to go out of style—the high-waist briefs paired with a sports bra are really common.

DRN: Do you have any suggestions for what dance stores can be providing for their teenage clients?

AC: It’s hard for me to shop at dance stores that don’t have a mature edge to them. I really stay away from ruffles, polka dots and sequins—teens look silly wearing them. So I’m searching for fun patterns and bright colors, like a bright-blue sports bra with a strappy back. I want my clothing to help me feel like an individual and stand out in class.

Amy Smith is a dance teacher and writer based in Greensboro, NC.

Photo courtesy of Sophia Anthony


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