Why Your Dance Bag Needs a Makeover
by Gina McFadden
You are in the middle of rehearsal and you can feel a blister forming on your left heel. You’ve got 30 seconds to sneak over to your bag while the choreographer is working with the other group. You hope to snag a band-aide for the heel-saving win. Instead, you fumble through…crumpled granola bar wrappers, marginally-clean warm-ups, one solo ear bud, a jar of Tiger Balm you never use because the smell gags you, that crumpled note you were supposed to deliver from the studio, random wads of old toe tape, and those jazz shoes you meant to retire because two of your toes fit out of the whole which has developed.
Dancer, this is a judgement-free zone, but even you have to admit: your dance bag is GROSS. Currently, it is simply a method of lugging to and from class everything you have put in it for the past year-and-a-half.
Never fear! We are going to get to the bottom of your mess together and give your dance bag a much needed makeover. Even if your bag is somewhat clean (kudos to you!), read on to grab a few tips to make it more functional.
Your dance bag: let’s envision what it COULD be for you with a little makeover. Much more than simply a vessel for your dance stuff, your dance bag could become a place of refuge on busy rehearsal days or back-to-back classes. With some thoughtful editing and a few modifications, it could become your biggest supporter in the studio. Strand of hair distracting you during fouettés? Dance bag to the rescue with some bobby pins (no need to grab that stranger-danger bobby pin from off the floor)! Low blood sugar in between classes? Dance bag to the rescue with a healthy-for-you snack! Blister, chapped lips, hang nail stealing your attention from class? Head on over to your carefully curated dance bag for all of your needs.
Time to pause reading this article and go get your bag. Oh, and a vacuum (my guess is you are going to need it).
5 Steps to a better dance bag:
Step 1: Dump everything out. Go toss your bag (minus all of your cute enamel pins) into the wash on gentle cycle. Come to think of it, do any of your (washable) dance shoes or socks smell like they need a fresh start? Pop those in as well.
Step 2: Separate your items into like piles. Make a trash pile, a shoe pile, a first-aid pile, a warm-ups pile, a snacks pile, a hair-stuff pile.
Step 3: Take a look at each category-pile. Sort through and edit out what you do not use. (Does that tattered, solo legwarmer still spark joy for you?) Check for expiration dates on things and toss what is old (I’m looking at you, tube of Neosporin from 2015!). Take some time and refill what needs refilling; stock back up on band-aides, bobby pins and lip balm. Place these items into clear containers for easy visibility.
Now that you got rid of the things you don’t use, take some time to consider what would be helpful to add to your bag. Think of the ways you want your dance bag to support you, maybe a fresh pair of dancer shocks or a granola bar. Is there anything you else you want to have on hand to feel your best before, during and after class? Why not have those items waiting for you in your bag! A small notebook and pen to keep track of your notes from rehearsal? A package of face-cleaning wipes for after class? A small lighter to melt the edge of your pointe shoe ribbons to finally stop the fraying!?
Now might be a good time to check on your bag. If the wash cycle is over, place it in front of a box fan to dry.
Step 4: Find smaller bags to put each pile-category into. Mesh bags are great for shoes, warm-ups, etc. Zip lock bags would be good for your snacks pile or first aid items. For pointe shoes, I like a mesh bag with a drawstring for separate toting until dry. While you don’t have to buy anything new, it might be fun to invest in a set of mesh bags in various colors. That way, if you can quickly locate the right mesh bag for the category you are looking for: green bag = legwarmers, yellow bag = dance socks, etc.
Step 5: Once your dance bag is dry, pack each category bag back in.
Voila! You have a clean, well-stocked bag to support you as you head back to the studio!
If you enjoyed this article, you will love my FREE Class Journal Printable to track your progress and make the most out of each class! Print a few copies and put them in a folder to keep in your freshly-organized bag! Click here to download.
Bio: Gina McFadden is a dance educator, choreographer and author. Her book, Dancer, 360°: Practical Advice for Today’s Healthy Dancer, will be coming out later this year. Gina danced professionally with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Pacifica, State Street Ballet and The National Choreographers Initiative. She has been on the faculties of Boston Ballet School, Grand Rapids Ballet School, New Jersey Ballet School, Hope College and Grand Valley State University. Gina has degrees in business and legal studies. She is a certified yoga instructor as well as a Holistic Life, Career & Executive Coach. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband and two daughters where she is an avid home-cook and a highly marginal golfer.