My 7Yo Neice Is in Ballet, and They Have Rules That I'd like to Discuss.

Updated on May 17, 2010
K.S. asks from San Francisco, CA
27 answers

She loves ballet and I've put up with these rules for a while but someone I know told me that they're wrong and I should take her out of ballet because of them. One of them is that she can wear her ballet leotard, of course, but she is required to wear makeup and she can't wear panties under her leotard. If it's warm she can't wear tights on her legs so its just her leotard most of the time. None of the other moms have issues with it, and its only my friend thats making me do a double take. Do you think those are acceptable rules? To all the moms with girls in ballet, do those seem reasonable? If so, then I don't have any issues.

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So What Happened?

I've decided to immediately start looking around for another ballet school. Brianna has tons of friends in this school and she can keep the friends, but I don't think its right. Nobody is taking photos of them. That's not an issue.

Edit: Yes, the makeup is only for recitals. I meant its required for every recital.
Edit #2: I used up all of my private message allotment. I try to thank everyone who replies! Obviously that doesn't work out too well! LOL Anyway, if you'd like to chat with me you can pm me on yahoo as karen_simmons36 Thanks!

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answers from Fresno on

I noticed that you say makeup is required only for recitals. This is totally normal! You would find that at any ballet school. The reason is that the audience can't see her eyes and mouth without it.

Not wearing underwear under the leotard is also typical for ballet, much the same way she would not wear underwear under a swimsuit. I don't understand why she doesn't have to wear tights though. She should wear ballet pink tights under her leotard. It will serve as "underwear" and will keep her ballet shoes from becoming a sweaty mess.

I danced for 14 years and my two daughters are in dance as well.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think requiring a 7 year old to wear makeup is excessive for weekly ballet class, but not for a performance/recital. As for underwear, it's very common for dancers not to wear anything underneath their leotards, so I don't think that is a problem.

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answers from Kansas City on

This is really strange. I danced for 25 years and even taught. Tights and leotard are always a requirement. Whether a 7 year old wears underwaer or not is none of their business. I would get far away from this studio.

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answers from San Diego on

In dance, gymnastics, and swimming... panties are a no-no. They look ridiculous, and unless you're talking thongs (on kids!?! eeeew), they SHOW. Both as lines, bunches, and out the leg holes. Which is mortifying. I remember the one time I was in a rush and forgot to take my panties off. I may as well have had a spotlight trained on my privates. People can't help but stare. It's like a woman with her dress tucked into her pantyhose. Your eye naturally follows the weird line. But in any event... check out film of the olympics, or professional dance. You don't see underwear. I never actually saw this rule written anywhere... but it was in the employee handbook at several places to be gentle with divorced dads who were bringing their daughters to class with their knickers hanging out, because they didn't know any better.

The "you have to wear tights unless it's really hot" is also a very very common rule in dance (in gymnastics you're not allowed, and I've never seen them in swimming... although boardshorts are common)... but it's an "allowance" for the heat. Any dance studio without AirCon in CA though, I'd be concerned about. Really? No AirCon?

The makeup is the odd-rule-out UNLESS they're talking at recitals/preformances. Then the makeup rule makes total sense. Full on ballet/theatre/opera/film make up is crazy. In prof dance/theatre just to look "normal" under the lights, you actually have eyeliner outlining the curves in your nostrils. Not to mention 1000 other things. And that's not counting Cirque type makeup which you find to greater or lesser degree in all preforming arts. In kids (non-prof), though... they usually recommend makeup to parents, because without lipstick and mascara... you can't really see your child's face. But makeup every class is a rule I've never heard of.

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter was in ballet and my granddaughte ris in ballet right now. The makeup thing is only for the recitals. they dont' wear it all the time. the leotard thing drove me nuts also. leotards can be purchased which have the little cotton panel in the bottom. underpants are not needed. that having been said have you asked the teacher herself about this? some of the little girls in my granddaughters class wear them some don't. the tights thing again is one of those things that if needed wear them if not why push it? she will need them for some of the costumes but if its just for practice or class who cares? I would ask about the makeup thing. I know the rules in my daughters class and her daughters class are that hair must be pulled up off the face, ballet shoes must be worn and leotard must be worn. leggings/tights and panties are optional lol.

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answers from Honolulu on

My girl has taken ballet and so do my friends kids.
They DO NOT have these rules.
They ARE allowed to wear underwear and tights.
Make-up is ONLY for performances. NOT class time. ONLY performances.
Even for performances... they are allowed to wear underwear and tights OF course.

I think it is not typical. NOT at all.
It would make me reconsider as well.
And I would not let them take photos of my child...
They seem kind of weird.... and questionable.

ASK THEM WHY these rules???

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answers from Los Angeles on

leave! proper attire is always required but the no underwear thing is just strange. they should not tell you that your child cant wear tights and have 0 right to say they cant wear underwear! make up is only for preformance not class! it seems to me that they are looking at your children if you catch what i mean.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have quite a bit of experience with dance studios so perhaps my thoughts will help. My mother owned and directed a dance studio for 20+ years. I "grew up" there, spending most afternoons at the studio, either in class or, as I got older, helping run the studio and teaching. My daughter and I both have danced in several studio environments. I've observed dance studios from the parent, student, and instructor perspectives.

A professionally run, proper dance studio will require ballet students to wear a leotard, tights, and ballet shoes. They may or may not have requirements about how to wear the hair (usually less so at age 7). Most studios do not want or allow children who are potty trained and older to wear undies under the dancewear. It really isn't necessary, and bunched up undies can become a distraction for the dancer. As a teacher, I have had students in summer classes complain about tights being too hot. But without tights, you have leotards riding up, revealing too much sometimes, and generally being a distraction. It's a tough call, and I know there are some girls who throw a fit over the tights. But I think they need to learn what is appropriate clothing for a ballet class regardless. It's only for 45-60 minutes, so they'll survive.

As for the make-up, that's a weird one. You can expect the studio management to tell the girls to wear some make-up appropriate for their age for recital or other performances. But for dance class, definately not. In fact, I would say, for younger kids like your niece, make-up should NOT be permitted in class (tweens and teens, ok, as that is the norm now). And it goes without saying that gum chewing at any age is completely inappropriate in any dance class. (But I digress!)

If you are in an area where there are other options for dance studios, I would advise checking them out. Go observe some classes elsewhere. Talk to parents from other studios. Ask what the other studios'policies are. Bottom line is if what a dance studio is having your student do....or not do...doesn't seem right to you, go with your gut and seek out other options.

I would like to think that all studios are run with only the best intentions of teaching dance and helping kids grow in the activity. But there are, indeed, some studios that maintain questionable policies and practices. Go with what feels right for you and your dancer.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

I think it's silly those are enforced rules. My daughter is in ballet. They suggest make-up for the recitals as the lights "wash them out." but it's NOT a requirement.

They also suggested to not wear her panties under her leotard so they're not sticking out and told us that that's pretty standard in ballet. But again- not enforced.

I don't really have an issue with it as it's not far out there...but I would have an issue if they said they absolutely had to.



answers from San Francisco on

Hello K., I am assuming that you have custody of this neice to even be able to make this decision and that a family member is there at each practice and not just dropping her off and then coming back. I have had daughters that started tap and ballet at age 3 so I will base my thoughts on that experiance.
You never said if you talked to the dance instructor to find out the reason for the rules. This you should have done right away as it might have all your answers and given you time to share your concern.
We never had to wear make up unless it was a performance or pre perfomance, so they were used to the idea and the parents were comfortable with how much! I actually refused to let our daughter be in one dance becasue of the makeup and costume was not age approiate for a 6 year old. I have never heard of no panties under the leotard so have no idea what that is about for that age. Many women do not wear panties under pantyhose that has built in panty, but I don't believe that is the case for leotards. My girls often wore no tights with their leotards because of the chance of yeast infections from sweating and chance of heat rash. The movement of legs,exercise of the dance make for the friction. So that doesn't surprise me. I am wondering what experiances your friend had that makes her so worried and how the conversation came up.? Contact the teacher and ask genuine questions and you should get all our answers. I can tell you that Mrs. Duane would never let a child be harmed in anyway and prepared each 3 year old as if they were going to be a Rockette and we trusted all the teachers that she hired and yes later took over after her death 100%. Good Luck



answers from Cleveland on

Well the no underwear rule is a bit strange. I would be uncomforable with this then I would call other ballet schools and see if this is normal. I think I would probably pull her out of the class. Just because the other moms are not reacting doesn't mean you should ignore the alarm bells in your head.



answers from San Francisco on

hello K. :)

acceptable...sure, i suppose if she were a serious student at a professional school or acadamy with a performing troupe at it's upper eschileon whose dancers will most likely grace the more serious stage and continue to live their life as a career dancer, some even at prima status

is this make-up she's wearing for performances...which at seven seems unessessary, they're all so darn cute up there on that stage, it actually is a necessary evil when performing in a theatrical setting, lights camera action and all...and all those great photos you take will upon closer inspection, turn out great, that sweet little smile and those sparkling eyes will actually be visable and your neice's face won't instead look like a big fleshy blob with two dark holes where her eyes should have been.

No panties...also completely acceptable and for performances, absolutely can usually still choose to where 'em under during class, but her classmates may single her out, since panties traditionally should not be worn under a leotard.

what i can't understand is why she can't wear tights when it's warm, how is this at all reasonable if there aren't any panties under her leotard...dancing requires a bit of moving ya seven yr old girls are not yet built in the way and the places necessary to most likely keep that leotard in it's place....and what about all that floor about wood burns, c'mon??

so, yes i guess reasonable, save for the last one, more so for serious students at serious dance schools...if your niece is comfortable and happy there, i would say let her comfortable happiness dance on where she's at...if she shows some trepidation or complains to the point that her dancing, her enjoyment and her happiness seem overshadowed by it taking a backseat to the disdain for all those darn rules and her newfound constant complaining...développé demi detourné, and glissade glissade. quickly now, assemblé, pas de bourrée, arrière, degagé, and grand jete her derrière right on out the devant...ahhh, échappé !!!



answers from San Francisco on

If this is true, I say go with your instincts. A 7 year old REQUIRED to wear makeup? I've taken ballet, and my relative owns a ballet school and I've never heard this rule. Not allowed to wear underwear? Are you kidding me? Again, this is not a ballet rule, this is a crazy person rule. Why can't she wear tights? It's not healthy to wear shoes without any kind of foot covering especially when it's warm and you're exercising. I suspect this is either made up, because it's just ridiculous, or you're niece is really at the craziest "ballet" school I've ever heard of. There are lots of ballet schools out there that are fun for children, and cater to young people without these "rules".


answers from Sacramento on

It sounds like your niece is enrolled at a studio where the girls are being prepped to be ballerinas. If she is looking to continue in dance these rules sound like ones that I would expect from a prestigious school. However, if your niece (or you) is looking for a more relaxed atmosphere or just a fun extracurricular activity, there are studios or programs (I've seen them at our parks dept) that offer classes and I don't think their rules are as strict in that case (I remeber back when I was in ballet, my mom stuck me in old bathing suits and I don't remember it being a problem but come recital time, there were rules about tights, makeup, hair and of course the costume).



answers from San Antonio on

I have to wonder if these "rules" are for performances only. My daughter is getting ready for her first dance recital The paperwork sent home with her costume told us to put on the tights with no underwear and then the leotard/costume that the tights acted as the underwear and there were no panty lines.

They also told us that a bit of make up would help enhance their features on stage. But to use our own discretion.

They wear leggings and a t-shirt to practice...not leotards.



answers from San Francisco on

This is standard practice is an a serious ballet school. Tights or underwear, never both. Always make-up on stage. It's understandable if it makes you uncomfortable and you switch schools. A smaller studio will have less emphasis on appearance and generally promote a healthier body image. However, the studio she is currently at sounds like better prep if she wants to join a company down the road. Trust your instincts.



answers from Chicago on

I don't think those rules are out of line if you're talking about performance. I teach gymnastics and we don't allow panties under the leotards for performances because they show. Also, our leotards have built-in liners for the crotch so panties are unnecessary. I know I never wore panties under my leotard in all my years of ballet and dance.

I would say 90% of our kids wear leotards with no panties and the other 10% have their underwear hanging out from their leotards which is MORE embarrassing.

An option to the no panties rule is to get briefs or spankies. You can purchase them at a dance store. They are made of leotard material and are the same cut and color as the leotard. Then you can't tell if the panties show, and I've always offered that as an option for under the leotards.

I've never heard of a studio that required makeup except for performances. That's just a part of performing on stage. Kids in dance, cheerleading and theater all wear makeup on stage.



answers from Sacramento on

Make up? Are you serious? Let's not rush our girls to grow up to soon!

At our Dance studio, the only time they wear makeup..and that' really at a minimum..nothing to at recital....and that's so the lights don't blur out thier face on stage

I have girls in ballet and gymnastics and we do not wear panties with our leotard...BUT...if your child is wearing a tutu/skirt..then it's not a big deal if they are wearing panties or not.

also....I don't care if it is warm or girls wear tights...those dance floors are DIRTY!...especially if they have tap dust on them.

anywhoo..that is my perspective.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from San Francisco on

those rules are ABSOLUTELY over the many of these 7year-olds are going to pursue ballet careers? how many of them will actually succeed, if so? therefore, why must they, at 7, begin/fall into the habits of a professional ballerina?
Not to forget, make-up? going panty-less? ABSURD!! I would not enroll my daughter given the rules or I would pull her out immediately after learning of them...ask yourself, does she really want to ballet that badly or is it you that wants her to do ballet? secondly, do you really want to be forced to follow these rules that you don't feel are "ok".
...thank you...another reason for me to NOT follow the crowds on this one! My creative, athletic, beautiful, out-going 6 year-old will stick to soccer, hip-hop, arts and everything else!

p.s. after my response, above, I read others...I can not get over going's nothing like a swimsut where you are under water vs. up on display with everyone staring at you. I would think it would be uncomfortable and make girls feel awkward...happy to not be exposing my daughter to this kind of madness!
p.p.s. kudos for following your head/heart and looking for another ballet school...


answers from Provo on

Umm. I think this person is sick! To have little dolls parading around in no panites?!?!?!?!!?!?!? I once wore my leotard without panties (I laughed to hard and my panties got rather wet) and it was sooo uncomfortable! I agree with Margie and have them watched over or even possibly a full on investigation, because that is just disgusting. So in other words I am glad you are leaving.



answers from Jacksonville on

My daughters were both in dance and we did not have these rules. I would take her out. This is creepy.
I might also make a phone call to the authorities.



answers from San Francisco on

I have a 6 year old in ballet and other types of dance. That seems unacceptable to me. If you don't agree w/their policies, feel free to change studios. There are plenty of good studios (depending on where you live) who don't require such rules. Her enjoyment in the art is what's important.

Good luck,



answers from San Francisco on

i think that's disgusting to REQUIRE a 7 yr old to wear makeup. what is that teaching her? that her regular face ain't good enough? yuk.



answers from Dallas on

Yeah, I would not send my daughter to class WITHOUT panties to class without a valid explanation. I can't imagine what the idea behind this would be. Creepy.



answers from Tulsa on

I do, the teachers make these rules for various reasons. One of them is so that the little girls all blend in with each other. The teachers only want to concentrate on muscles, form, and placement. They get distracted by the various leotards, shoes, socks, tutu's that are totally useless and cumbersome. The makeup is a rule we haven't come across and don't think we will. We had a show tonight and the teacher made sure everyone knew that the girls were to look like little girls and not "Hoochey Mommas". Panties really look odd hanging out of the hem of the leos and I have never let K wear them. In ballet they are to wear their hose all the time so the leos don't crawl around much. In gymanstics K wears biketards or leos with some booty shorts. Our dance teacher even makes the girls all wear their hair up in a bun or two buns and bangs have to be off the face. She says professional dancers all wear their hair like that and the girls should too. We have two pages of rules. Our clothes, shoes (tap and ballet), and stuff all costs around $100.00 each year. On a recital year it costs that for classwear then we have to pay for costumes in the Spring and maybe Winter if there is a show for Christmas somewhere.

I think the rules are fine. It helps the girls to be a unit instead of a bunch of little individuals that want to have "Diva" moments...LOL. K had a meltdown today because she didn't take a nap at school and then came home with pink, green, and blue hair colored hair spray all over her hair and body paint on one side of her face and temporary tattoos on the other. She had to be scrubbed for an hour to get that stuff off her face.

But she looked really beautiful tonight in the show. The rules are pretty universal. All dance teachers are going to have them, and yours sound pretty much like everyone elses I have ever heard of.



answers from Sacramento on

Those rules would be unacceptable to me. I would go to another studio.

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