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What's in dancers' ballet bags?

Marianela Nuñez and Yasmine Naghdi reveal the rehearsal and performance essentials that they can't do without.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

17 July 2014 at 4.45pm | 4 Comments

'Be prepared' is most famous as the motto of the Scouts, but it's a maxim that is equally as embraced by ballet dancers.

A dancer's ballet bag is an essential bit of kit that they take with them wherever they go – in rehearsals, during breaks and in their dressing rooms; it's always to hand. But what do they contain? We asked two Royal Ballet dancers – Marianela Nuñez and Yasmine Naghdi – what their ballet bag essentials are:

Marianela Nuñez

  • Pointe shoes: 'Perhaps the most obvious thing to feature in a ballet bag, but I have two new pairs and two worn ones. As well as stage rehearsals, I use pointes for centre work in class. We have to sew our own pointe shoes and I can get through three pairs per performance.'
  • Flat shoes: 'These are the first pair I put on each day, in preparation for barre work in morning class.'
  • My 'toe bag': 'It's a funny name, but this little bag has all the things I need to take care of my feet. I see a chiropodist once a month as I'm susceptible to corns, which can be very painful. The bag contains corn and callous removal liquid as well as scissors and protective tape.'
  • A massage ball and foot roller: 'Both of these are used to release tight and uncomfortable muscles. The massage ball looks like a cricket ball. I bought it from a pet shop!'
  • A small cosmetics bag: 'This has all the essentials – a hair brush, Vaseline, a nail file and hair grips.'
  • A small box of resin: 'We put this on our shoes to help with grip.'
  • Spare ballet skirts: 'I carry different colours and styles of clothing to wear when rehearsing different ballets – some ballets require freer movement than others.'
  • Socks: ‘Spare pairs of socks are essential when you’re on your feet all day.’
  • iPhone with plenty of music downloaded: 'Though we're listening to music all day through rehearsals and performances, you'll always see dancers during breaks with their earphones in. Every dancer has their own playlist of favourite songs to help them relax.'

Yasmine Naghdi

  • Shoes: 'One new pair of pointe shoes and three older pairs to wear during rehearsals, one pair of flats for barre or any role I am rehearsing in flat shoes. I also carry a pair of socks as I often wear them during barre exercises to really engage my feet.'
  • Legwarmers and spare clothing: 'Essential for keeping muscles warm and avoiding injury. I also have one long skirt, one short skirt, three pairs of shorts (depending which ballet I'm working on) and a spare leotard.'
  • Foot protection: 'A bag containing things I need to protect my feet whilst in pointe shoes such as toe pads, toe dividers, plasters, tape, animal wool and water spray to soften down the hard vamp [the lower forward part of the shoe's upper] on new pointe shoes.'
  • L'Occitane Almond Lighter Legs: 'I use it daily straight after rehearsals and when I'm preparing for an evening performance. It's really effective in relieving tired legs.'
  • A small sewing bag: 'This is filled with threaded needles, different colours of thread and scissors in case the ribbons or elastics of my pointe shoes come loose.'
  • Snacks and refreshment: 'I always have a bottle of water, energizing, nutritious snacks and a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruits to sustain my energy. I usually eat them before or after our lunch break.'

The Royal Opera House Shop stocks a range of dance wear and beauty products.

Watch films on our YouTube channel about how pointe shoes are made, and how dancers prepare them for the stage.

Find out more about our Pointe Shoe Appeal.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

17 July 2014 at 4.45pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged ballet bag, cosmetics, flat shoes, legwarmers, leotard, Marianela Nuñez, pointe shoes, preparation, Rehearsal, resin, sewing, shoes, studio, Yasmine Naghdi

This article has 4 comments

  1. Dana responded on 19 July 2014 at 11:27pm Reply

    I've seen male dancers carrying bags around with them - it's not just the ladies!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 20 July 2014 at 8:34pm

      Hi Dana,

      That is indeed true - all dancers carry bags stuffed with essentials.

      Hope you enjoyed the feature.

      ROH Content Producer

  2. I am a ballet dancer and I love doing tap with it as well xxx

  3. Kaitlyn hunter responded on 16 April 2016 at 1:22am Reply

    I prefer to always have lambs wool in my "toe bag" and duct tape. I know, duct tape sounds awful but I have tried three different toe tapes and medical tapes and I have for duct tape the best.

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