While not usually found as enchanting as the classic tutu, ballet lyrical costumes are still beautiful, especially when they are on stage. These costumes were meant for movement.
The Movement of Ballet Lyrical Costumes
In dance, the word "lyrical" refers to that which is melodic. Specifically, it is a choreography that incorporates flowing action into its movement. Generally slower than classical ballet, it was originally a dance in which the classical choreography was done with more flow, but is currently interpreted as a dance that fuses ballet with jazz and modern.
As such, the costumes must be very practical and sturdy, but also must have a great deal of flow. They are notorious for not looking very appealing when the dancer is standing still, but are lovely in movement. A lyrical dress is usually simple in color, cut and style. This not only allows the dancer complete freedom of movement, but also avoids distracting the audience from the dancer's work. As befits a dance that is a fusion of forms, many lyrical dresses have asymmetrical skirts.
Ballet lyrical costumes tend to come in either polyester, lycra or velvet. Depending on what you're dancing, and the length of the piece, you may want to avoid a dress made of pure polyester, as it doesn't breathe.
Because fit is so crucial in a ballet dress, it is highly recommended you go to a dance shop and try dresses on, rather than shop online. The better shops will have three-way mirrors so that you can try a few key moves and bends and see how the dress looks from all angles. Of course, you want the audience looking at you, not what you're wearing, but likewise you want a look that is flattering. The simplicity of a lyrical costume makes it pleasant to dance in, but can render it unforgiving, so that any small thing that's wrong can become huge on stage.
Your ideal lyrical dress should be made to order, but this is obviously not a route many dancers can afford to take.
When shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is not practical or feasible, you can always go online. Just check that you can return any costume you buy before you finalize the sale.
It's always best to start your search with tried-and-true dancewear manufacturers such as:
You should also look at Web sites that feature large catalogs, such as Dancewear Solutions. The latter, while it has 20 pages of ballet and lyrical costumes, must be viewed as an Adobe document, which can be a little slow-going. Another site that is a little slow to navigate but worth checking out is Everything Shiny.
Besides having a cute name, it's owned and operated by a former dancer who spent years sewing her own costumes. You can buy ready-made items at decent prices, but the real reason to look into this site is that they do made-to-order costumes. This is not as ideal as having a good designer in your neighborhood so that you can try the item on, but if you have no other option and want a custom costume, try Everything Shiny.
If cost is an issue and you're feeling risky, you can always try your luck on eBay. A number of sellers offer new or gently used ballet lyrical costumes at rock-bottom prices. This can be a good option if you need several costumes or just need something simple for a small recital.
Don't Forget Footwear
The most important aspect of any dance is the shoe. It might be thought that since lyrical dance is performed demi-pointe that the same care need not be taken with shoes, but this is far from the case. Although there are many good manufacturers, Capezio remains the first maker to try when looking for a quality dance shoe.