Everyone wants to know what’s in the ballet bags of pro-dancers, but does anyone want to peek into the dance bag of a creaky 31-year-old adult ballet beginner? Your brain may say no, but your heart says yes. Go on, you know you want to.
When I first started ballet lessons as an adult beginner, my first thought (besides ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’) was, ‘I wonder if I’ll be good enough to buy a ballet leotard’. 6 years later, I now make ballet leotards and dancewear. My ballet essentials have also progressed from a pair of old track shorts and a ratty t-shirt to a small arsenal of dance accoutrements, mostly borne out of necessity – ballet makes you horrifically aware of all the bits of you that aren’t functioning ideally! – and partly because, well, they’re pretty.
C&V Black Rose leotard – confession: I never liked black leotards. I know they’re slimming, but I don’t find them very interesting. My first leotard was actually white! I designed the Black Rose leotard because I wanted a black leo that was feminine and classic, yet interesting and edgy. It’s pretty much the only black leotard I wear.
I also find camisole style leotards terrifically suited to Singapore’s humidity. I usually start class wearing a C&V tee or jacket over the leotard. Once my body/the room starts to get really warm, off comes to top layer, and the sleeveless, lowback style of this leotard keeps me from overheating. Plus, no worrying about armpit stains. Woo!
Toe seperators – I hate my bunions and am maybe just a little (i.e. a lot) neurotic about them growing any bigger, so toe seperators are a necessity. My legs rotate inwards naturally; as a consequence I’ve been walking around with collapsed arches for my entire life, and the toe seperators help somewhat with realigning how I place my weight on my feet so that I’m lifting through my arches a little more.
Gaynor Minden Joy slippers – I got these in New York, courtesy of the lovely Maria at Gaynor Minden. These are comfortable, durable split-sole shoes, with a bit of shock absorption and a sleek-fit, stretchy middle portion that hugs your arches. These have lasted me for 2 years and I actually prefer them to all my old leather slippers. I’d also like to take a crack at these slippers by MDM dance; I’d imagine that having shoes that force you to work your arches more would be a nice compliment to these (kinder on the ego) GM split soles. If you’re wondering, the Joy Slippers fit true to street size!
Rubiawear Legwarmers – Ashley Ellis of Boston Ballet makes legwarmers in all sorts of fabrics and colours. I’d never worn legwarmers before because I figured, I live in Singapore, land of perpetual summer. But then she brought a whole bag of them over to Singapore, and I was like, ‘they are all so prettyyy!’ I do 2 ballet classes on a Saturday, and my first class at noon is always a struggle. My body feels cold and lethargic and nothing seems to be cooperating. These ‘shorty’ style legwarmers are especially useful during that first class, to get my calves warmer and semi-functioning.
Scrunchie – yes, they still make these even though it’s not 1987. I have smooth, fine hair, with a ton of baby strands that will not stay neatly in a ballet bun, no matter how many pins I use. I’ve given up trying. Nowadays I just tie my hair into a ponytail, twist it into a bun, chuck a few pins in and pop the scrunchie over. It’s not the neatest bun you’ll find, but it works! My scrunchies are the free ones I get with my gymnastics leotards, but for something more luxurious, Mille Saisons makes silk scrunchies in an array of colours.
CV dance pouch – Not to brag, but I love these pouches. I’m pretty happy with the puns I came up for them, but most of all, these were made in India by a compant which provides gainful employment to women who have escaped India’s sex trade industry. I’ve always believed that C&V should play it’s part in helping others, and this is just another small way of doing that.
In line with that philosophy, the pouches are, of course, made of organic, fairtrade cotton (meaning that the farmers who grew the cotton for these pouches were paid fairly for their labours), and they fit quite a bit of things! I usually have my slippers, toe seperators, a skirt, some hairpins, my phone, and other doodads in there. It also has a hidden compartment inside, which you could use to put valuables in. Me, I use it to put…
That’s right, snacks! Like I said, my first class is at noon and it runs an hour and a half, and my stomach usually starts rumbling for lunch somewhere in the middle of that. When I’m hungry I get really low energy, and this handy little compartment inside my dance pouch usually houses a banana or a packet of biscuits (or cookies, as Americans would call them) which I can scarf down during our water break. That usually tides me over till lunch. Occasionally a chocolate bar might find it’s way inside. I mean, who put that mini-snickers there? The chocolate gods, perhaps?