Tutus are a staple piece in ballet. When you think of ballet, the image that probably comes to your mind is a beautiful ballerina twirling across the stage in layers and layers of tulle. Little ballerinas dream of pink powder puff tutus that they can wear while dancing and for some dancers, the epitome of ballet success is the day their teacher tells them that they can wear a tutu in the upcoming show. But do you know what’s the real purpose of a tutu?
The world ‘tutu’ is derived from a French word referring to a lady’s bottom. Its purpose is to draw attention to the ballerina’s legs, emphasizing her leg movements. A tutu is generally made of layers of tulle or netting to create a lightweight skirt that enhances the grace and beauty of a ballerina. Nowadays, you can buy tutu skirts with matching tutu leotards and tutu dresses that come with the bodice conveniently attached. Let’s compare the different styles of tutus available to see which one suits you best.
Romantic tules consist of soft, downward flowing tule layers that fall between the knee and ankle. When you set out to buy tutu, you will come across two styles: classical romantic or neo-classical romantic. With classical tutus, the tulle falls from the waist, whereas with neo-classical tutus the tulle falls from the hips. As examples of these romantic tutu shapes, take Giselle & La Sylphide.
Today, pancake tutus are among the most favourite choices for many ballerinas thanks to their shape being instantly synonymous with images of modern ballet. This style emerged after the romantic period and it is known for its many, short stiff layers of tulle that create a horizontal tutu extending from the waist. Pancake tutus usually have between 9-12 stiff tulle layers and give a sprightly appearance that truly resembles dance characters like the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Similar to romantic tutus, bell tutus are shorter in length. They get their shape from the lack of a wired hoop, giving a softer and fuller appearance than romantic tutus. Think of the costumes worn in La Bayadere, for an example.
Powder Puff Tutus
This style was created by Barbara Karinska who is considered the best tutu maker in history for her both beautiful and durable designs. Powder puff tutus are popular for their cute design but their main purpose is that the short tulle layers allow full visibility of the dancer’s legs.
A platter tutu is short and has no pleats. But it has the top layer decorated, which is in fact what gives the tutu its name. It is a very beautiful style which makes dancers look like they got out of a ballerina musical jewelry box.