What Hairstyles are there for Dance?

What Hairstyles are there for Dance?

When dancing the way you feel and look are two of the most important factors and your hair plays a very big part in the overall presentation.  For most dancers they like to keep their hair back off their faces in smooth, slick styles, but as more and more styles of dance are becoming more popular, the hairstyles are always changing and adapting!  Personally I sometimes need some inspiration of how to have my hair in unusual but practical ways for dancing, so we at Dancemania are going to take you through some traditional dancing hairstyles and introduce you to some hair essentials.

Hairstyles for Ballet

The most well known, ‘classic’ hairstyle for dance is the Ballet Bun! The Ballet bun is worn usually to let the teacher see the lines of the neck and to study the posture of the student. Also in classical ballet having your hair up in a bun gives you the appearance of elegance and sophistication. It is very important when styling your hair in a ballet bun that it is neat and tidy with no bits hanging in your face. If you struggle with styling a ballet bun, below is a step by step guide to help you.

1. Make sure your hair is knot free. With a brush/comb and hairspray, pull the hair back onto the crown tightly into a ponytail. With a strong elastic hair band secure the ponytail in place. With the comb and hairspray smooth out any lumps and bumps!

2. Now ‘twist’ the ponytail like twisting a wet towel! Make sure the twist is nice and tight but keep hold of the end.

3. Now with the twisted ponytail, wrap it clockwise or anti clockwise round the fastening of the elastic hair band. Now with two or three hair grips, pin in place roughly so it doesn’t fall out – this is to hold the bun in place for a minute while you are applying the bun net.

4. Now wrap the bun net over the bun so that is tight and smooth – depending on what size of bun net, depends on how many times it will need to be wrapped round the bun.

5. Now find the pins that are in the bun already and remove them. Once removed you can now shape the bun securely inside the net. When shaping the bun you are wanting to get it as round and flat to the head as possible.

6. Once you have got the shape that you are happy with, re-pin the bun with as many pins as you desire. To make sure the bun in securely fastened get the dancer to shake their head from side to side and up and down, this will determine whether it is pinned enough or not. Now spray with hair spray for a neat, smooth, groomed look.

And there you have it, six easy steps! Buns do take a bit of practice and doing them on yourself takes even more practice but it can be done very neatly! There is also an option of a Bun Builder called a chinnon, which gives you a basic shape to style your bun around.

For ballet there are other options of hair styles, but it usually will all boil down to what your teacher prefers. As dancers reach professional level the hair styles do seem to vary. Some ballet dancers feel that French Pleats and Twists look appropriate and still give them the elegance and poise as does the bun. For competitions hair garments can be added to finish off the look and to match the tutu, even a simple flower can make a bun look spectacular.

Hairstyles for dance

Other Dance styles such as Jazz, Tap, Modern, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Salsa etc, have a little more leeway on how you are expected to wear your hair. Again it often depends on what your teacher/trainer would like but there is definitely more choice. For training purposes and class it is sensible to wear your hair back off your face but that does not mean it has to be scraped back into a bun, see below for some hair ideas which are suitable but fun!

French Plait

The French Plait is stylish and sensible with the intricate detail that the folding of the hair makes. This a favorite choice for lots of dancers because it is easily adaptable for most styles of dance and stays neat and tidy.

1. Begin the French plait by gripping a small section of hair at the top of the head between your thumb and forefinger. Separate this hair into three equal strands and with it, plait hair once, crossing left strand over middle, then right strand over middle.

2. Grip the French plait in your right hand and keep the sections separated with your fingers. With your left hand grab a small, even section of hair from the left side of the head and add this to the left strand. Do not plait hair again until step 3.

3. Switch the French plait to the left hand, keeping hair strands separated between fingers. Grab an even section of hair from the right side of the head and add it to the right strand. Plait hair again.

4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3, pulling hair tight each time you French plait hair. When you get to the nape of the neck and don’t have any more hair to add from the sides, continue with a basic braid and tie the end of the French plait with an elastic hair band.
There are other ways of wearing the French Plait which can change the style and look of the hairstyle. It can be made into two plaits rather than one big one – You start the French plait in the same way but instead of making it into one large plait, you seperate it into two smaller plaits. It can also be tucked up to into itself as you can see from the picture of Scarlett Johansson. This is made by simply tucking the two plaits up, twisting them round each other and pining in place. Or you can have the ends loose and pin them into a ‘messy bun’ as you can see from the picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar.

High Ponytail

High Ponytails are quick and easy but can look great, especially for dance styles such as Jazz and Disco. It can look great with both straight and curly hair and some dancers like to add hair decorations or scrunchies!

1. To make a high ponytail, with a comb/brush pull the hair back high onto the head and secure with a strong elastic band. Smooth out any lumps and bumbs.

2. Spray with hairspray or Glitter Hairspray to jazz it up a bit!


Now the Quiff hairstyle isn’t a thing of the past, at the moment it is as fashionable as ever and you can bring into dance too. Personally I love the look of a quiff into a ponytail or a quiff with your hair down. This hairstyle suits such dance styles as commercial jazz and hip-hop. As you can see from the picture of Christina Milian, this quiff style is practical but funky! This is a usual hairstyle that I wear at auditions and for class, it is great that it has that hair down look without it falling in your face.


Some other quiff styles include; quiff into low/side ponytail, quiff into hair down, quiff into ballet bun, quiff into messy bun etc. As long you use enough grips and hairspray the quiff can be a suitable hairstyle for dancing. The quiff brings an edgy look to a dancer and teamed up with the right costume and make-up it can be a really great look for the stage or for a music video. It also brings a Spanish feel when warn into a side bun, accompanied by a red flower.


Now you may think that bunches are just for young people but they can look great on people of all ages. They do not have to worn hair on your head, they can be worn as low bunches or bunches into plaits or buns. For such styles as Disco dancing and Jazz/modern, bunches are a fab hairstyle that will finish off the look! To master the bunches/ping tail look follow these steps:

High Bunches

1. Separate the hair into two sections right down the middle of the head. Tie loosely on one side to keep it out of the way.

2. For the other side, with a comb/brush pull the hair back into a ponytail and secure with a strong elastic band. Spray with hairspray and make sure it is slick and smooth.

3. Now untie the other side and do the same as in 2 to this part of your hair. There you have it, a set of high bunches! You can leave them how they are or you can back comb them with gives an edgy, rock look!

Low Pigtails

1. It is practically the same as the high bunches. Separate the hair into two sections by giving the hair a long centre parting. Now tie the side you are not using loosely, so it does not get in the way.

2. On the other side with a comb/brush pull the hair down to a point roughly behind your earlobe/bottom of hairline and fasten with a strong elastic.

3. Repeat on the other side.

4. Now you can either leave the hair loose on both sides or you can plait it. To Plait it, you just grab three strands of hair from each pigtail and cross them over until you get to the end. Then fasten with another strong elastic hairband.

Bun Bunches

1. Repeat the same actions as styling high bunches in your hair.

2. Once you have your high bunches done, now twist the loose hair tightly and wrap around each bunch.

3. Simply pin in place or add a bun net if you are going for a neater look.

National Dance

National Dance is dances from around the world from each country. Each dance has very strict costume requirements and that includes hairstyles! For example; Irish dancing is becoming more and more popular these days and the Irish are very proud of this dance style, but how does an Irish dancer have their hair? Here is a list of some hair styles you can see from dance styles from around the world:

Irish Dancing Hairstyle

They love the ringlet curls, which is usually warn with a head dress. Each member of the group all wear the same costumes and hairstyle, this gives a very uniformed polish look to the performance. For those who do not have curly hair naturally, hair pieces can be brought.

Flamenco Dancing Hairstyle

Flamenco dancing is a strong dance style with very dramatic and sharp movements. The hair style is quite severe and dramatic in its self.  The hair is either made into a centre parting or side parting and pulled into a low side bun.  The hair must be smooth and slick without any bumps.  The hair is often decorated with some sort of accessory, for example a large flower.  Normally depending on what dress the dancer is wearing will depend on what style and color the hair decoration will be.

Classical Greek Dancing Hairstyle

This dance form comes from Ancient Greece and is based upon the natural movements of the body. The movements are expressive and range from lyrical to dynamic athletic sequences. Dancers perform barefoot, wearing tunics and often use props such as scarves, ribbons or bows. Each dance has a story or meaning behind it, so usually depending on what the dance means depends on what costume and hairstyle will be needed. For example; if you were to dance a sequence which is telling the story or representing the Greek God Aphroditē, the hair may have loose curls with the front pinned up with a flower or two added. Where as if you were dancing an athletic sequence your hair may need to be more severe and slicked back.

Kathak Dance Hairstyle

Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from northern India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or story tellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. The hair again depends on the story and meaning of the dance, but the majority of Kathak dancers wear their hair in a low bun with a centre parting, often with a decorated head scarf placed over the top.

To conclude…

The possibilities of how to wear your hair is endless and there are always styles to try out there. I hope this article has helped a little bit in the ideas factory as we all need a little inspiration from time to time! Dancemania has all the hair accessories you will need and do not forget about our great range of dancewear and dance shoes too!

Hair Essentials

Hair Bun nets
Hair Pins
Hair Bands
Bun Builder
Bun Pack


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4 thoughts on “What Hairstyles are there for Dance?

  1. Pingback: Ballerina Baldness!

  2. Melanie

    The photo of the Irish dance hairstyle is of a very dear friend of mine who I have danced with for years and years. I stumbled across this site looking for flamenco hairstyles, just for fun. What a nice surprise to see Carolyn’s photo on here! Lovely girl and gorgeous dancer, with perfect Irish dancing curls, of course! Thank you for posting her photo!

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