My theater essentials

Theater weeks are hard. Tech times are shortened, you have to adjust to the new space, learn the ins and outs of the backstage area. They are overall pretty exhausting. I found out early on that without the items that make me feel comfortable and at home, theater weeks can be even more brutal. 

Below is my list of essential items at any theater whether at home or on tour.

  • Sneakers! We perform mostly in socks and bare feet and without shoes that means you're walking around loading docks, kitchens, and bathrooms with no protection. I have an old pair of Nike running shoes that I wear every day but have thought about switching to my favorite Nike Flyknit Racers. The flyknit material is comfortable, flexible, and breathable. I highly recommend them.
  • A jacket! Theaters are freezing! I always pack a sweater and a jacket. Again- I remain faithful to Nike. My fave is my black and white windrunner (pictured). 
  • Heating pad/Dancer toys. I'm talking therabands, lacrosse balls, golf balls, foam rollers, massage sticks, toe spacers. The works! Heating pads help with the cold, help with achy muscles, work as a pillow when you need a nap. A must have!
  • Your favorite warmups. I like to layer a lot for class on stage. Jacket, sweater, favorite pants (Nike), a selection of tanks and tees, cozy socks, a scarf. Sometimes I'll add mukluks to the warm up (they are super popular amongst dancers, especially ballet dancers). I found some available online here.
  • Hair and makeup necessities. I use Garnier Fructis products for hair. I mostly like the smell of them but their gel and hairspray together work wonders. As for makeup, we get a yearly stipend from MAC makeup to stock up for the season, so pretty much all of my makeup products come from them. One exception is my brow filler from Benefit Cosmetics.
  • Shower products. I sometimes shower just before a performance- get the hair wet, get the muscles warm. And I will always shower after a performance. A travel size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash do the trick for me. L'Occitane has beautiful products- I use their Almond shower oil. Or I'll use soap that one of my coworkers makes! We call it Floap (Florian+soap).
  • Merde gifts. I'm not sure if dancers are the only ones who give each other gifts before a premiere but it's one of my favorite traditions. I admit that I am always the one who forgets to bring a gift for opening night but will make up for it later in the run- I promise! You can see a close up of my collection of knick-knacks pictured here. They mostly serve as reminders that we all care for each other and bring back happy memories for me.
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  • Other things you might consider: A book (for when you're off duty), personal photos (to put up at your station), a selection of teas and candy.

I'd love to hear what you deem a theater essential! Message me or let me know in the comments.

BONUS: Friends from my home studio in North Carolina have launched their new business barre + bag! Pre-order your all inclusive theater needs here

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Sock Talk

It's the age old question for contemporary dancers around the world.

-What are you wearing on your feet?

-Socks.

-What kind of socks?

-Just regular socks- but they must have a 75% cotton content or higher!

I think it's safe to say that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is among the 'founding fathers' of dancing and performing in socks. Yes-it's true that there are exceptions (Cerrudo's Lickety-Split (ballet shoes), Duato's Jardi Tancat (bare feet), Naharin's Decadance (dance boots), Conte's The 40's (white full sole jazz shoes). --Don't even get me started on the latter and more to come on my thoughts on dance boots and dance sneakers that we so desperately need!!

But the majority of contemporary work over the last 10-15 years (maybe more) has been danced primarily in socks. Former Hubbard Street 2 dancer, Andrea Thompson (now dancing for Luzerner Theatre in Switzerland) wrote about our footwear of choice in the best wording I've seen. You can read for yourself here

I agree that H&M had the most affordable and the most reliable socks for dancers. However, I always felt that even with the high cotton content, they were just a little too thin for me. Below are some options and brands that I would recommend the most:

  • NIKE PERFORMANCE CUSHION CREW- can only be found on amazon.com OR if you happen to be in Tokyo, stop by the Atmos store for the black, white, grey 3pk. The NYC location has some VANS sock options there right now as well.
  • THE HUNDREDS- also located in NYC. You can buy in store or online. These are definitely my favorites. All of their socks have an 85% cotton content.
  • The majority of contemporary dancers favor the coveted AMERICAN APPAREL calf-high sock. They come in a range of colors. Thank God these socks came back- I definitely went through a withdrawal when AA went on their hiatus.
  • STANCE and Uniqlo also come highly recommended to me. I haven't worn these brands yet but have heard great reviews. I like that you can filter by fiber on Stance.com.
  • If you ARE into thinner socks, HUE thin cotton socks come recommended as well.
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What are your favorite dance sock brands?