When you're a dancer, your body is your instrument, yet "playing" it often requires a variety of items, which is why dancers lug around those enormous bags. Like a plumber who discovers he doesn't have the right size wrench, there's nothing worse than being out on a dance job and finding yourself without the tools you need. So as you start to gear up for the new season of auditions, classes, and rehearsals, use this handy checklist to make sure your dance bag contains everything you will require to be safe, comfortable, and successful in your dance and movement work.
1. Dance shoes
Of every sort! Especially when going to an audition, it is important to bring a variety of shoes. In addition to your basic ballet slippers or jazz sneakers, make sure to pack shoes for all the specialty dance forms you can do, such as tap or pointe work. You never know what kind of dancing you'll be asked to perform. A choreographer may suddenly want to see a different style, even if it wasn't specified in the audition notice, especially if your résumé indicates that you can do it. And ladies, always have something with a heel.
2. Extra tights, leotard, and warm-ups
In case of tears, runs, stains, or excessive sweating, you want to have a backup pair of tights and a clean leotard. And as temperatures in studios and theaters are unpredictable and can vary widely, it is important to have warm-up clothes that you can layer on top and remove easily.
3. Hairbrush, comb, elastic ties, barrettes, pins, and hairspray
Classical dancers in particular need to be meticulous in sporting a neat hairstyle that will stay in place and not interfere with the look or execution of their movements. Also, there is frequently a dancer who forgets, loses, or breaks her hair tie, and it looks good for your professionalism and preparedness when you can be there with a spare elastic or barrette to offer.
Even in cold weather, dancers sweat, often profusely. Particularly when doing partner work, you will want to periodically wipe the perspiration off your body, as overly sweaty skin can be dangerous when doing lifts. (You may also want to pack an additional clean towel to use after showering.)
No one likes working with a performer who stinks up the studio.
6. Perfume or cologne
On those busy days when you don't have time to shower after rigorous classes or rehearsals, a quick squirt of a mild cologne can make you feel and smell fresh.
7. Antiseptic wipes
Good for cleansing a minor cut or scrape or even just dirty hands, particularly when it's inconvenient for you to leave the studio or stage area.
8. Antibiotic ointment
To prevent infection, you should apply something like this immediately after cleansing any kind of cut, scrape, or tear of your skin.
A large assortment of these is always important!
10. Breath fresheners
A courtesy to your fellow performers and to make a pleasant impression on anyone to whom you may be speaking at an audition.
11. Plastic shaver
For last-minute touchups or, ladies, in the event that you have to change into a different style of leotard or tights than you were expecting to wear.
12. Makeup bag
In case you need to re-apply makeup to go to an audition after class or rehearsal, or at auditions if you need to repair smears, smudges, etc.
13. Plastic water bottle
It is vital that you stay hydrated during long days of rehearsing or auditioning, and if you can't get out to purchase more beverages, it's smart to have a plastic bottle that you can easily refill from a water fountain or sink. Warning: Never carry glass bottles in your dance bag. Should they break, no matter how well you think you've cleaned out your bag, tiny glass shards may still be in there that could seriously hurt you if they got into your clothes or shoes.
14. Protein bar
On days when your schedule requires you to skip a meal, a medium-size protein bar will adequately satisfy your hunger.
15. A healthy snack
Most dance nutritionists advise eating small amounts of food periodically throughout the day. So especially on those days when you're not sure when your breaks will be, or when you are going to an unfamiliar neighborhood and don't know what the food purchasing options will be, you should be sure to have a healthy snack in your dance bag. Also, it's usually less expensive to bring your own snacks from home on a regular basis. The most recommended snacks for working dancers are nuts and fruit.
16. Plastic bag
For wet dance clothing, towels, etc.
17. Notebook and pen
You never know when you'll need to record an important piece of information.
18. Extra photo and résumé
Even if you're not going to an audition, you never know who you may run into.
You don't want to show up at an audition looking drenched.
20. Reading material
For the downtime, when you tire of texting or when it's inappropriate to use your electronic devices, always have a good book or magazine with you. What do I recommend? Why, the latest issue of Backstage, of course.
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