2 3 Throwback Thursday and Leotards | Ballet Webb

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday and Leotards

Throwback Thursday and Leotards
Dancers wear them throughout their dancing life and beyond.  Yet most people know little about how this essential piece of apparel came into existence.
It was all because of a French acrobat and trapeze performer named Jules Léotard (1838-1870).  That’s right; the word “leotard” comes from his name, although he never used the term to mean the tight-fitting item of clothing.  He called it “maillot”, a French word that refers to many different types of snugly-fitted garments.
The word” leotard” as we know it didn’t come into use until about 1886, several years after Jules Léotard’s death, and the garment was worn mainly by circus performers and acrobats.  It wasn’t until the 1920s that the leotard began being used by Broadway dancers.
One other factoid:  The 1868 song “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” was written for Jules Léotard by George Leybourne, Gaston Lyle and Alfred Lee.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #8:
“The word “leotard” comes from a person:  French acrobat and trapeze performer, Jules Léotard.”

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