I love reading “What’s In My Dance Bag?” posts, they provide such a cool insight into the weird and wonderful things that other dancers use every day. Ballet is a very traditional art, and it’s also very taxing on the body… this means that every dancer knows lots of tips and tricks that might seem really strange to other people! From teething gel to numb foot pain, to dental floss to sew pointe shoe ribbons or wool to darn them, or a rolled-up catalogue for rolling out the muscles, most dancers have a very unique collection of bits and bobs in their dance bag! I thought it was about time I share mine.
The foam roller is by Karrimor, a brand that produces products for running and the outdoors. This is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made for ballet, and if you don’t already have some sort of foam roller, I highly recommend investing in one. This knobbly grid design gets deeper into the muscle tissue than a smooth roller. The 30cm size makes it easy to transport to and from the studio, too. I like to use it after class to roll out all of my muscles, concentrating on any tender areas- this can be painful, but afterwards I feel like brand new. It’s not a replacement for a sports massage, but it’s perfect to keep your muscles in good condition in between, especially if like me you can’t afford massages very often. Some people use theirs before class to stimulate blood flow to the muscles, which is also a good idea. I love mine and highly recommend it to any dancer or athlete.
Next are my warm-up boots which are from Bloch. I bought them in the Covent Garden store, which I love. Before I bought these, I was using boot-shaped slippers to warm up in, which I assumed were just as good, even if they didn’t look as professional. However, after trying these, I realised I was wrong! These warm-up boots are like winter coats for your feet- they get your feet properly warm really quickly, and keep them warm very effectively. They’re durable and I love the design- this design is limited-edition but it’s still available, and Bloch keep releasing new colours and designs which are to die for! If I could afford it I’d buy them in all different colours!
Ballet class gets pretty sweaty, so I like to carry this hand towel, which is in a cute floral design from Cath Kidston.
My Dancer’s Journal was another find from the Bloch Covent Garden store- I think I actually bought it at the same time as my warm-up boots. This journal is fantastic! I absolutely love stationery, so when I saw this I had to have it. It is the perfect place to record all your notes and corrections, details of exams, competitions, auditions and physio appointments, and a great tool for tracking your progress. I use mine every single day. I am going to post a full review of this product, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I also have a coloured fineliner there by Staedtler; again, I am a big stationery geek so I love my coloured fineliners and I use them to do all my writing.
An apple- I like to keep a snack in my bag in case I feel I really need food. I live pretty close to my ballet school so I usually wait until I get home to eat, but sometimes after class I feel I really need an energy boost so I’ll have a piece of fruit or some trail mix and plenty of water.
Pointe shoes- I am currently wearing Gaynor Mindens with a sleek heel and suede tip in the second-hardest shank (yellow bag). I love Gaynors, they feel so natural on my feet, and my dancing really benefits from that, and they are much more comfortable than traditional shoes. The only padding I use are the dynamic box liners and squishy ovals from the Totally Toes fitting kit. Also pictured is a roll of masking tape which I use to tape my toes as it’s cheaper than toe tape! I have tried the Gaynor Minden padded toe tape, but I found that the glue melted right off when my feet were warm.
My little bag of bits and bobs… several years ago Ted Baker released a range of Christmas gifts in boots with this gorgeous ballerina design, which is where this slightly worse-for-wear make-up bag came from! Inside I keep pain killers, tea bags and coffee sachets, my sewing things (including dental floss, which I use to sew on my ribbons), hair pins and slides, a nit comb which I use to get my bun super-smooth (I recommend getting one!), scissors, nail clippers and files, lip balm and teething gel which works great to numb sore areas. I bring my actual make-up in a separate make-up bag.
My other pointe shoes… these are Grishko 2007s, which I bought from Dancia International in Covent Garden and are a great shape for my feet. I have found them to be useful in training my feet to be stronger (which is why I bought them over Gaynors), however the box is so, so hard and I can’t seem to be able to soften it adequately. There is barely any demi-pointe in this shoe even after wearing them several times now, and the heels keep slipping off at the back. I ended up getting another pair of Gaynors as I could not dance a variation in these shoes, however I will keep wearing them as I feel once they are softened, they might be a really good shoe for me. If not, I will keep looking! The bag is Bloch, from my first pair of pointe shoes.
My ballet skirt is just a plain black wrap-around chiffon skirt from Capezio. I go for the slightly longer length as the shorter skirts don’t flatter my shape. This skirt is very trusty, it has lasted me years!
Then there’s my nearly-empty tube of Biofreeze. Biofreeze gives great cooling therapy to any inflammation, such as an inflamed tendon. Pictured elsewhere, near the top-left, is Voltarol, and I use these two in conjunction with one another. Voltarol relieves pain and stiffness such as joint and muscle pain- I find it so much more effective than an ibuprofen gel. If I am struggling with a niggling injury, which isn’t serious enough to keep me from dancing, I use Biofreeze before class, then after class I take an Ibuprofen, apply ice, then apply Voltarol when I’m done icing, and keep re-applying as necessary. This works pretty well to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
I have a tub of rosin from Just Ballet– I don’t use it much, because like many places it is banned in our studios due to the expensive floor, and rosin damages Gaynor Mindens, however it’s super handy to have for keeping the backs of my pointe shoes on and ribbon knots in place. It’s especially good if you dance anywhere with a wooden or slippery floor- having it in this portable tub is perfect. Just Ballet is a great website for dance wear; it’s not as professional and polished-looking as other big dance wear websites, but I was so impressed by their service, and they have all sorts of useful things like this available.
Next to this there are a few other essentials: hairspray, spray plaster, a tubular bandage, perfume, a spiky ball massager which is great for stubborn knots, deodorant, tissues and a non-tangle hairbrush!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into what’s in my dance bag- let me know if you want to know anything more about what I’m using at the moment, and link me to your own dance bag posts, I’d love to see them!
These pictures were taken by the ever-talented Jake Owens (composition by me).
Until next time!