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There are a variety of tutus that are worn when you do ballet. It comes from the French word for bottom. The Tutu was created for two reasons. For one, it was something that was extremely light, and secondly, the tutu allowed the audience to notice the complex leg movements and footwork, which is so crucial in a ballet. 

It is also interesting to know how to make a tutu. Most ballet dancers will have some form of tutu that is worn throughout the ballet.

What Is A Tutu?

It is interesting to learn how to make tutus. Tutus can be skirts that wrap around the dancer; they can have ribbons that are sewn into the waist so that it can be easily fastened to the waist. Some are attached to a person's leotards. Some can be carried in any type of clothing bag unless it is one of the classical type; these have special carriers for them.


classical tutu

A classical tutu is shown here on a dance form. This is a very colorful one and is a classical bell type tutu. It comes with a skirt (the part that is red and blue) and a bodice (the part that is red and black). It is part of the costume that dancers wear. Each ballet will have its own version of tutu and dancers may have more than one.

Types of Tutus

There are several types of tutus and they are used for different aspects of ballet:

romantic tutu

Romantic Tutu -- these are made out of a fabric called tulle and they are worn for ballets like Giselle. They generally have a bodice that fits the individual well enough to show off their bodice and it sometimes has sleeves.


Classical Tutu (bell type) -- the skirt is both short and stiff. They are a bit longer than the other type of classical tutu called the pancake   type. The fabric for this tutu is a netting.

pancake type


Classical Tutu (pancake type) -- this type has more layers of netting then the bell type and also has a hoop within it. You can see how it is flatter and looks like a pancake when it is laid out.

karinsky tutu

Karinska Tutu/Balanchine -- This tutu is like the classical ones but it can be more elaborate. It is also referred to as a powder puff and you can see why because of its shape. This has less netting in it than the other two. It was originally created for a specific ballet: Symphony in C by Georges Bizet.

Short History of the Tutu 

The precursor to the modern day tutu was the dress worn by Marie Taglioni when she danced the La Sylphide ballet in 1832. The early tutus were made from muslin or sheer gauze and they were created so that you could see the dancer's legs and you could see how sensual she appeared. They were only worn by solo or lead ballerinas to distinguish them from the other dancers.

In the 1920's, George Balanchine began to shorten tutus and he created new designs for specific ballets and later worked with the designer Barbara Karinska. The pair created a style of tutu that would show off the dancer's movements.

As you can now see, the tutu is a very important part of the ballet dance.