Legs on Show: The Historiography of Female Ballet Tights in 1720-1820

MA Historiography Essay, Spring 2018

The hundred years between 1720 to 1820 saw great change in the introduction of what would later become ballet tights, heavily influenced by the change in the way female ballet dancers performed. This essay explores the historiography surrounding this period of change for ballet tights. It is during this period that the need for tights became apparent, with the shortening of the ballet skirt by Marie Camargo in circa 1730 and the occurrence of the French Revolution whereby the style of costume and dance style further changed, and during which role of the female dancer shifted.

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The essay examines the literature surrounding this period of change, presents analysis and critique of existing debates and engages in discussions of wider contextual issues and themes surrounding the design object of female ballet tights in the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century.

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