Modesty Standards His Feet Dance School's Guidelines for Onstage Attire
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“All things should be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40
At His Feet Dance, we desire to honor God, and each other, with our bodies. This includes how we act towards each other and how we dance, as well as what we wear. Outlined in this document are our reasons for wearing costumes at all, our specific standards for what we, as a school, call “modest” and what we do not, and what to do if you do not feel comfortable with a costume you or your student has been assigned.
Section I: Why do we wear costumes? We could give several reasons for wearing costumes: they are fun, and they give a sense of unity when the whole class can look and dance as one. Plus, wearing costumes it is just what people do onstage, right? All are true, but the most important answer to the question of why His Feet Dance wears costumes is actually modesty itself.
When the entire class is clothed as one body, it draws the attention away from the individual and towards the beauty and intricacy of many different parts moving as one in an act of worship to God. It is reminiscent of the way we as Christians “though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:5).” If modesty is humility and propriety, a proper recognition and ordering of ourselves that is neither more nor less than we are, then costumes that exhibit real beauty and dignity, while not being more loud or lavish than the others onstage, will contribute to this.
And in the case of storytelling dances where different characters do have different costumes and some are meant to draw more focus than the others, costumes may still contribute to modesty by drawing the audience into the story. The goal, then, is that by wearing appropriate costumes the audience may be captivated, not by our bodies, but by the message being portrayed.
Please note that the following guidelines are not at all meant to be judgmental of those who have different standards; even amongst the teachers there are varying degrees of comfort and different convictions. This is also not meant to be legalistic; we do not believe that what we do or do not wear makes us any more or less worthy or loved in the eyes of God. Rather, this is simply the general guide that we, as an institution, are setting forth so that students and families, each with their own convictions, can know what to expect.
Section II: Practically, what do we call modest? As far as the amount of skin we show goes, the following are our standards:
Baby Ballet: Tutus must be able to cover the bottom of the leotard. Modesty leotards and leggings are not required for this level unless the top of the costume is thin straps or has a neckline that goes more than halfway down the back; then a leotard will be required. Ballet 1: Tutus must come mid-thigh or below. Leggings will be required unless tutu comes to knees or below and is not transparent. Modesty leotards will be required if the costume has thin straps (sleeveless costumes with thick straps that go all the way out to the shoulders are permitted without a modesty leotard) and/or if the neckline goes more than a third of the way down the back. Levels 2+: Skirts and tutus must come just above the knees, at the very least to mid-thigh, and must completely cover the leotard in both front and back, even when bending all the way over. Leotards must cover everything but the top ¼ of the back, and must not show cleavage in the front. Sleeves must be short sleeved or longer; tank top leotards may be permitted in some instances where the straps are large and come all the way out to the shoulders. Leggings are always required. Boys (All Levels): Pants must be loose fitting and structured, and shirts must be short sleeved or longer. Tank tops may be permitted if they do not have loose arm holes that show more than the arms. BOYS WILL NEVER BE ASKED TO WEAR TIGHTS.
But concealing skin is not the entirety of modesty. It also includes a certain well-ordered-ness, a rightness and appropriateness for the role being filled. This is harder to make a standard in writing for, because there are so many variables. What is the dance about? What is it portraying? Which character is being played? What, in this case, is going to properly draw the audience into the story without drawing undue attention to ourselves? What will be truly beautiful and right for its situation?
Because we cannot make an easy standard for this, it is the practice of His Feet to send all those enrolled pictures of their costumes, along with their corresponding songs, before purchasing. This way, each family can evaluate what their students will be wearing and whether or not they feel it meets the high call of living out humble, purposeful, modest beauty onstage.
Section III: What should I do if I am not comfortable with a costume? Tell us! Respond to the email, send us a note, give us a phone call. We will either change the costumes, add a modesty piece, or order new ones entirely. We are committed to ensuring that each person can walk onstage confidently, with a clean conscience, and proclaim the goodness of God without feeling vulnerable, guilty, exposed, or anything less than the beautiful, extraordinary son or daughter of the Father that they are.