What's In My Dance Bag?
I remember the adorable pink dance bag my mom bought me for my first ever ballet class at age 3. It was square, sparkly, and had a pair of pointe shoes crossed in a perfect sous sous painted delicately on the front. It was precious. And I was precious carrying it. And it all worked out, because I was 3 and all I truly needed to put in it was my itty-bitty pair of ballet shoes and my very shiny tap shoes.
Fast forward many years, and I have grown - as has my dance bag, necessarily. I remember when my now-wife and I were first dating, she mistakenly kicked my dance bag as she was walking across my room. Heavy as it was and little as she is, it tilted only slightly. But having been filled to bursting and only partially zipped, out toppled - no joke - a pair of pointe shoes, a box cutter, a tube of lotion, a bag of crackers, toenail clippers, my planner, my pencilcase, and a textbook. She looked at me, perplexed - “What...why…?”
That’s the reaction of most non-dancers when the encounter a ballerina’s dance bag. But it’s all for a purpose. Or for an emergency. We swear.
Anyway, over the years I have (somewhat) streamlined the contents of my dance bag. I’ve linked brands and products below!
The bag itself: This Lululemon Weekend Warrior bag was a gift from the wife after my Longchamp just wasn’t big enough. This is certainly big enough. I’m still convinced I could fit in the bag if I really tried. They don't make this exact bag anymore, but they do make some similar ones.
Skirts: Abigail Mentzer Designs makes the best skirts on the market, and I will hear no arguments to the contrary. Lightweight, soft, the PERFECT slimming shape and available in two lengths and enough colors to have a hard time deciding, AMD skirts are clearly made FOR a dancer, BY a dancer. Abbie Mentzer, the GirlBoss behind the Slinky Skirt, is formerly of the Pennsylvania Ballet, but nowadays you can catch her on stages around the country with the national tour of Phantom of The Opera. Once I stop being post-wedding broke, I plan on buying 20.
Warm Ups: Like many ballerinas I am a tiny person and, therefore, always cold. We all know that one ballerina who is an absolute warmup junkie - that would be me. I love my hot pink boots by Irina + Max for Bloch, but outside of the ubiquitous trashbag pants (my favorites are by Body Wrappers), my absolute favorite knitwear of all time comes from KD Dance New York, based just up the road from me in the Bronx. Recently, I toured their factory and met the owner, David. These people are solid human beings and you should purchase their products. Seriously.
Gear That Keeps Me From Falling Apart: I’m religious about warming up, and all these funny little tools help me do just that. They may or may not also double as weapons against gross guys on the street, but hey, choose your own adventure. The Stick is amazing for rolling out just about any part of your body, but I’m fond of it for my quads. I keep a lacrosse ball around (I’m from Maryland, okay?!) for my hamstrings and lower back, because they’re more durable than tennis balls. I somehow seem to always end up with knots in my feet, so my green spiky ball and my mini roller solve those problems for me pretty quickly. Theraband makes incredible products, including this segmented stretch band and Bunheads makes the super useful resistance band.
Ohmygod, shoes: A good handful of you are too young to remember that. ANYWAY. I swear by these babies from Bloch, and I’m never going back. Thank you Bloch, for making my feet look twice as fabulous. I prance around in several pairs of Freed Studio Professionals per month, and they never let me down. After wearing Russian Pointe and Suffolk for many years, I made the switch to Freed three years ago and can now call myself a loyal Freed customer. Inside my shoes, I proudly sport the gel toe caps on my big toes and the occasional cloth toe pad. I’m pretty simple.
The All Purpose Pouch (below): Most dancers I know have one of these in their bag. You know, the magic pouch that somehow has everything you need, a la Hermione Granger in Deathly Hallows. Aside from the compulsory pads and tampons (because Mother Nature is cruel and sneaky), here’s what I’ve got in mine:A. Face Wipes - I am a Professional Sweaty Person, and routinely look like a melting wax figure after class. These guys, made by Burts Bees, come in all sorts of fun scents ranging from the refreshing pink grapefruit to the gentler cotton (which I prefer), and make me feel less like a soggy, sticky mess. B. These CleanWell sanitizing wipes are great for cleaning your hands after barre or just in general, and they’re alcohol free! They smell good, which is pretty much all I need. C. Clippers, lighter, tiger balm, jet glue, stitch kit - ballerina problem solvers. Keep them around for all the things. D. Body spray - Refer to point A. This delicious smelling spray keeps me from offending anyone in a 6 foot radius after class. E. After those face wipes, I spritz my face and hairline with this MAGIC POTION from my Favorite Place On Earth, Lush. I use it morning, noon and night and my girls Emme and Jen at my neighborhood Lush hook me up with a new bottle (and like 20 other products) once a month. F. My EpiPen and Inhaler - I try to avoid hospitals, so I keep my EpiPen and my inhaler with me at all times just to cover my bases. G. Deodorant: Again, refer to points A and D.
So, as you see, there's a lot that goes into what I carry around every day. But I'm always prepared and, bonus points - I'm the one who gets to be like "I have that!" when someone is in need. If you've never had that feeling I highly recommend you try it. It's exhilarating.