Whilst there is much negative stigma about the dance experiences in Physical Education, dance within P.E. lessons has proven itself to be successful, not only encouraging students to take part, but also contributing to today’s dancewear scene. Many teenage girls who were perhaps unwilling to participate in sports have been seen to thoroughly engage in dance and consequently excel, in parallel to, for example, disruptive boys who have found their forte in the strength and skill of break dance during P.E. Many lessons also, for example, consist of street dance, appealing to students as they are able to express themselves through the up-to-date movement and their urban dance sneakers, tracksuit bottoms and the occasional sweatband, meaning dancewear has received more attention and popularity. The days of gym knickers are far behind us!
Dancewear has evolved significantly, however early influences can be identified. Early ballet, dating as far back as the 1800s, saw courtly influences of much longer skirts than are seen today and satin ballet slippers for females. Similarities here as well as that of male tights and long-sleeved shirts demonstrate the loyalty dance has to its originators, and how practical the first instances of dance were. The mid-1800s saw choreographer of La Sylphide August Bournonville designing the ballet slippers for males that are still worn today with a V-shaped vamp to give the illusion of a long and pointed foot. The Romantic tutu also made an appearance, but under another name originally. Today, the traditional ballet style has been adopted and also brought into the fashion world, with ballet pumps and tutu style skirts echoing ballet’s origins.
The 1890s saw the emergence of Jazz dance, and it became increasingly popular, taught in numerous dance studios. Costumes were experimented with, open to more adventurous design work and became more practical, highlighting the dancers’ lines in addition to looking effective and eye-catching, also mirrored in practice wear. In addition, Modern dance, now known as contemporary dance, developed as a result of Isadora Duncan’s rejection of the tight bodices of the tutus of classical ballet in favour of Greek-style tunics. She believed tight clothing was a restriction to the body’s natural movement and to this day we see this trend, especially clothes of the hip hop world and on television programmes such as So You Think You Can Dance.