Do Male Ballet Dancers Wear a Codpiece?

The Evolution of Ballet Attire for Male Dancers

Ballet has long been associated with grace, elegance, and precision. While many people are familiar with the beautiful costumes worn by female ballet dancers, the question arises: do male ballet dancers wear a codpiece? The answer to this question requires diving into the evolution of ballet attire for male performers throughout history.

The Origin of Codpieces in Medieval Times

To understand whether codpieces have a place in modern ballet, we must first explore their origins. During the medieval period, codpieces were an integral part of men’s fashion. These protective coverings were attached to trousers or hose and served both practical and decorative purposes. In addition to providing support and protection for male genitalia, they also symbolized masculinity and virility.

Ballet Attire in its Early Days

When ballet emerged as an art form in Renaissance Italy during the 15th century, it predominantly featured male performers who danced while wearing extravagant attire. However, these early ballet costumes did not include codpieces. Instead, male dancers wore tight-fitting garments that accentuated their lower bodies without specifically emphasizing their genitalia.

The Introduction of Tights

As time went on and ballet evolved further during the Baroque era (17th-18th centuries), tights became a central element of male performers’ wardrobe. Unlike traditional trousers or hose worn by men at that time – which often incorporated separate leg coverings – tights provided greater flexibility and showcased dancers’ muscular legs more prominently.

Modern Ballet Attire for Male Performers

Focus on Elegance and Body Lines

In contemporary times, classical ballet companies have moved away from incorporating codpieces into their costume designs. The emphasis has shifted towards showcasing the clean lines of a male dancer’s body and highlighting their technique rather than emphasizing their genitalia.

Form-fitting Dance Belts

Underneath their tights, male ballet dancers wear form-fitting dance belts. These specialized undergarments provide support for the lower abdomen and ensure comfort during vigorous movements while maintaining a sleek appearance on stage. Dance belts are designed to create a streamlined look that enhances the overall aesthetics of male performers without detracting from their artistry.

Variations in Costume Design

While codpieces are no longer part of mainstream ballet attire, there may be exceptions in certain contemporary productions or artistic interpretations where costume designers choose to incorporate them as a stylistic choice or homage to historical elements. However, these instances occur infrequently and should not be viewed as representative of modern ballet practices.

The Importance of Contemporary Ballet Attire

In today’s world, ballet is celebrated as an art form that transcends gender norms and showcases talent regardless of sex. Modern ballet attire aims to highlight the dancers’ skills, gracefulness, athleticism, and expressiveness – free from distractions like elaborate codpieces.

Focusing on Artistry over Fashion Trends

By moving away from overly ornate costumes with sexually suggestive elements such as codpieces, contemporary ballet shifts its focus back to storytelling through movement while celebrating each dancer’s unique abilities. This allows audiences to appreciate performances solely based on skillful execution rather than becoming fixated on specific details unrelated to the art form itself.

An Inclusive Environment for All Dancers

The absence of codpieces in modern ballet attire also contributes positively towards creating an inclusive environment for all dancers regardless of gender identity or expression. By removing unnecessary emphasis on specific anatomical features associated with traditional masculinity, it allows individuals from diverse backgrounds and identities to feel welcomed and represented within the ballet community.


In conclusion, male ballet dancers do not typically wear codpieces in modern times. While these decorative and symbolically significant accessories were prevalent during medieval and Renaissance periods, they have gradually disappeared from mainstream ballet attire. Today’s focus is on showcasing the elegance, athleticism, and artistry of both male and female dancers – allowing audiences to appreciate their remarkable skills without unnecessary distractions.