Minnesota High School dance teams may include boys, this next year! ‘Some’ are wringing their hands and not happy, but most of us are wondering ‘what took so long?’ Girls have been able to be on boy’s football and wrestling teams… and the world hasn’t collapsed, so dance on, Minnesota boys!
After thinking of the logistics of having a boy sharing performance space with your girls, the inevitable question that comes up is…what do we do about costuming?
At Satin Stitches, we have been creating guy’s costumes for decades. We have worked with many show choir male costumes, as well as with male figure skaters, ballroom dancers, and fun entertainers such as Elvis impersonators, magicians and wrestlers! We have dedicated men’s sizing and basic patterns to fit all high school aged boys.
When working with dance studios or other dance teams in other states, where one or more boys have been on their teams, decisions needed to be made about how much to match or coordinate with the girls on the team.
Choreography plays a major part in how you deal with your boy dancer(s). Will this dancer be the focal point of your routine, or ‘just one’ of the dancers in formation?
If your boy dancer is ‘just one’ of the formation, perhaps thinking about everyone as a whole is your starting point. Simplistically – have all team members wear black pants with a colorful leotard or shirt, for example. Then if the girl’s leotard or shirt is more tailored rather than visually feminine, everyone could wear the same costume. An alternative would be for the boy to wear a masculinized shirt or leotard that is similar to your girls. Choosing your colors, detailing and styling is important. Also consider the boy costume to match the top of the girls, with basic pants for the boys, and having the girls with an alternate bottoms look.
If you plan to use your boy dancer(s) as a visual focal point, then matching your girls isn’t necessary. You simply need to coordinate the costuming.
The color, the cut, the fit, the workmanship, the fabric and the details will make or break a great-looking boy dance costume.
Where should you purchase your boy costumes? The best solution is to purchase your boy costumes from the same custom manufacturer that you purchase your girl costumes. They will have knowledge of what might be needed, along with matching fabrics and trims.
Generally I would stay away from hobby sewers, unless they have a track record of creating appropriate-looking boy costumes. If their experience is with dance studios, they may have experience only with young boy costumes that may utilize the same patterns as used for the girls.
As I have mentioned in previous, published articles, boys and men’s clothing requires a higher level of construction technique to pull off a quality costume. Many talented hobby sewers have years of experience sewing girl dance costumes, but not very much experience with the construction details that are needed for creating appropriate boy dance costumes. It is more difficult to tailor jackets, shirts and trousers than to sew dresses or leotards. A common mistake is for these sewers to use their girl patterns and fabrics for the boys, without adjustment.
The mass, catalog dance recital costume manufacturers tend to offer low-budget, low-quality boy costuming which may not meet your standards of quality costuming for your high school dance team. Better construction may be too expensive for these companies to offer.
Better looks for guys include thicker spandex such as heavyweight options rather than the traditional thin tricot spandex. Most surface-printed spandex fabrics (such as Mystique) have a thicker feel and look. Slinky fabrics and other soft and drape-able fabrics such as lightweight spandex should be avoided, Chiffon and mesh fabrics are sheer and probably not suitable for boy costumes. Geometric prints, stripes, bright colors rather than pastels are all great choices for boy costumes.
So do not be afraid of special costuming for your potential boy dancers! At Satin Stitches, we can handle the special requirements that male dancers need, and deserve!
© Deborah J. Nelson/Satin Stitches Ltd.