What Dancers Want: Summer Apparel for Pros

In summer, Jasmine Perry likes to wear leotards with short sleeves, spaghetti straps or thick straps, as pictured.
In summer, Jasmine Perry likes to wear leotards with short sleeves, spaghetti straps or thick straps, as pictured.
Summer months mean fun colors and lighter fabrics—especially for professionals dancing through long rehearsals. We spoke with three dancers about what they prefer to wear when the weather turns hot.

Cindy Reid
Musical theater/tap dancer
New York, NY

DRN: What are your apparel needs for summer classes in the city?
CR: In theater jazz classes, it’s always like a mini audition, so I like to look pulled-together. In the summer, I usually wear supportive sports bras, with fun straps in the back, along with shorts. My favorite shorts have a thick band not only at the waist but also at the bottoms and along the sides, which prevents them from riding up during classes and auditions. I also have a few theater skirts—they need to be simple, fun and flowy, but short enough to show a nice leg line.

DRN: What clothing do you prefer for your musical theater auditions?
CR: A unique leotard is a great addition to an audition wardrobe. I like leotard lines that offer different strap options for bustier women and a unique selection of color patterns. At an audition, I want to stand out, so anything that looks individualized, like a floral print leotard with an accent color, is great.

DRN: What other items would you like to see retailers providing for summer clothing?
Tank tops are really difficult for me to find. I want it to be formfitting, but I have a bigger chest for a dancer, so most tops I find end up being too flowy. I would like tanks with thicker, sturdier straps that aren’t always a racer back. Sweat-wicking fabrics are a must for summer as well.

Jasmine Perry
Company dancer, Los Angeles Ballet
Los Angeles, CA

DRN: What leotards do you prefer to wear in the summer months?
JP: I stick to short-sleeve or spaghetti-strap nylon or Lycra leotards. I also go for brighter colors in the summer—for example, I have an orange leotard that I only feel comfortable wearing on a nice summer day. When you’re partnering, it’s important to not have a slippery or sweaty torso. A velvet leotard or an open back doesn’t allow your partner to grab on to anything. My favorite leotard has thick straps with a racer back and just a small opening at the lower back.

DRN: How do you keep your pointe shoes in shape during the summer humidity?
I need a lot more Jet glue in the summer months. I also don’t wear tights over my feet, which reduces the amount of sweat in my shoes. I buy ankle tights in pink or black, then usually cut them to above my knee. I also wear toe pads to help keep foot sweat out of my shoes. And I rotate my pointe shoes much more often—between classes and rehearsals, I change out which pair I’m wearing to give them time to dry.

DRN: What accessories do you wear in the summer for warm-ups?
I still wear calf legwarmers in the summer to keep my ankles warm, but I prefer pink ones so I can wear them in rehearsals without them distracting from my leg line. I also wear thin, zip-up jackets without hoods. They’re similar to a running jacket, but very formfitting.

Jessie Meck
Laker Girl
El Segundo, CA

DRN: What apparel do you need for summer team auditions?
For our summer auditions, I wear briefs and a crop top or sports bra. Bright colors are best—I go for pink, and I make sure to buy matching tops and bottoms. Some girls wear a high-quality bathing suit if it provides enough coverage and support. I prefer a high-cut brief that elongates my legs.

DRN: What clothing is required for your summer practices?
After auditions, we have our intensive weekends, where you have to wear a crop top in practice to get used to the feel of it for performances. Lycra materials are great, since they’re both breathable and supportive, and they move with you when you dance. I also wear a thin, stretchy Lycra jacket to help me warm up.

DRN: What summer items do you prefer for your other dance classes?
Ballet and jazz funk are my go-to classes to keep me in shape. For ballet, I like black leotards with strappy backs, along with black Lycra shorts that come to a little above my mid-thigh. For jazz funk or hip-hop classes, I prefer leggings with a crop top and a jean jacket or flannel that ties around my waist. Bright colors and fun patterns help me stand out in the crowd. The leggings need to be thick enough to support you when you’re leaping and kicking, but not so thick that they add bulk.

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

Photo by Mallory Pettee

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