20 Essential Items to Pack in Your Dance Bag

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When you’re a dancer, your body is your instrument and 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 wrench, there’s nothing worse than being on a dance job and finding yourself without the tools you need. So make sure your dance bag contains everything you’ll require to be safe, comfortable, and successful in your dance and movement work.

1. Dance shoes

Of every sort! Especially at 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. 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 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 clean leotard. And as temperatures in studios and theaters are unpredictable and can vary widely, it is important to have warm-up clothes 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, it looks good for your professionalism and preparedness when you can be there with a spare elastic or barrette to offer.

4. Towel
Even in cold weather, dancers sweat. Particularly when doing partner work, you’ll want to periodically wipe the perspiration off your body—sweaty skin can be dangerous when doing lifts. (You may also want to pack an additional clean towel to use after showering.)

5. Deodorant

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 dirty hands, particularly when it’s inconvenient for you to leave the studio or stage area.

8. Antibiotic ointment
To prevent infection, apply something like this immediately after cleansing any kind of cut or scrape.

9. Bandages
A large assortment is always important!

READ: How to Become a Dancer


10. Breath fresheners
A courtesy to your fellow performers and to make a pleasant impression on anyone you may speak to at an audition.

11. Disposable razor
For last-minute touchups or if you have to change into a different style of leotard or tights.

12. Makeup bag
In case you need to re-apply makeup for an audition after class or rehearsal, or at auditions if you need to repair smears, smudges, etc.

13. Water bottle
It’s vital that you stay hydrated during long days of rehearsing or auditioning, and a reusable water bottle can easily be refilled. 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 doesn’t allow time for meals, a protein bar can tide you over. 

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 breaks will be or when you’re going to an unfamiliar neighborhood and don’t know what the food options will be, you should have a healthy snack in your dance bag. 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.

19. Umbrella
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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