What to Buy

A leotard is essential to a ballet dancer. It is what ballerinas wear to practice and sometimes even during performances. Leotards come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common-- they are form-fitting. It is necessary that a ballet dancer wear a leotard instead of a T-shirt while dancing because the instructor must be able to see her body and placement.

Pink tights are worn by ballet dancers so that their instructors will be able to see their legs and knees. It is also important that a dancer wear tights to practice because she must learn to put them on quickly in case she has a quick-change during a performance. Underwear must never be worn under ballet tights. A run in tights can be fixed if clear nail polish is applied over it.

Ballet slippers must be worn instead of any other kind of shoe. The best slippers have a split sole, which really accents a foot's arch. Dancers should buy slippers that are snug but that do not bend their toes. The elastic should cross directly under the ankle.

Ballet dancers should wear their hair in a bun. With hairspray and gel, hair can be slicked toward the back of the head. The bun should be held together with bobby pins and a hair net.

Each of these items can be bought from a dance magazine or at a dance supply store. One dance supply store in Gainesville, Florida is Arabesque Dance & Active Wear. It is located at 2441 NW 43rd St and can be reached at (352) 372-2003.

Where to go

Pofahl School of Dance Arts: 1325 NW 2nd St., Gainesville- (352) 371-2986

Joni Messler Studio of Dance: 1501 NW 16th Ave., Gainesville- (352) 372-9898

Imperial Dance Studio: 3550 SW 34th St. #A, Gainesville- (352) 375-7763

Let's Dance!: 7230 W University Avenue, Gainesville- (352) 331-7529

Cameron Dancenter: 5001 NW 34th Street, Gainesville- (352) 371-0761

If you are a student at the University of Florida, there are several dance groups you can join. I was a member of one of those groups, Extreme Dance Company, during my first year at UF. I am sad to say I could not participate in it this year because I am currently taking much more demanding classes. The company consists of four levels: A, B, C and D. These levels practice together every Wednesday night throughout the year and, in addition, separately in the spring semester to organize dances for the Spring Show. Last year the show's theme was Femme Fatale, and it took place in Abraham Lincoln Middle School. Extreme Dance Company accepts dancers at any level. For more information or to join, contact Angela Bouliakis at (305) 283-6503.