Concert essentials: must-pack items for your dance bag
End of year concerts are one of the most eagerly anticipated times of the year for dance schools and their students. Not only are they a great way to finish the year and celebrate the Christmas holidays, they also give dancers the chance to show friends and family where all that hard work and practice throughout the year has gone. Since there's inevitably a million things to think about leading up to performance day, if anyone ever needed Mary Poppins' magical ever-expanding bag, it's dancers at concert time.
However, since magical carry bags seem to be a bit scarce these days, we've done our best to bring you the next best thing! With our super helpful 'concert essentials' guide, you'll be 110% performance-ready when the big day arrives (without needing to bring the house with you!).
It's never more important to be dancing at your best than during your end of year on-stage performance. Make sure your moment isn't sabotaged by tight muscles or a nasty foot cramp (everyone knows cramps have the worst possible timing) by slipping a thera-band into your bag and getting those flexes-and-pointes going during warm-up! See here for a video on some of the best thera-band exercises. As an extra precaution, it might be a good idea to keep an electrolyte drink on hand too, which can help keep you hydrated throughout your performance. Sports drinks such as Powerade offer a mix of electrolytes (primarily sodium and potassium), water and carbohydrates, to help keep your energy levels up. Just remember that sports drinks shouldn't replace water or nutritious snacks as a fuel source, but they can be a good way to regulate energy levels if you're feeling fatigued mid-performance.
As for snacks, we suggest going for something healthy and energy-stabilising like dates, a banana or a handful of nuts - and for something a little more treat-worthy, our personal favourite is Ballerina Bites' Matcha Bliss Balls with Coconut + Cranberries recipe.
Pro tip: If you do tend to cramp in the feet quite often, take a tennis ball with you and use it during your warm-up to assist with gently articulating and stretching the muscles of the feet. Another aid for anyone particularly prone to cramping is magnesium spray, which can be a helpful preventative measure. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and assists with neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction, so if you're low on magnesium you might want to invest in a spray - or munch on magnesium-rich almonds and cashews.
Always. Have. Spares.
This needs to be the motto of every dancer and dance parent the world over, because even your most trusty, go-to tights are still likely to defy all odds and run a ladder when you least expect it so... Always. Have. Spares. (our professional and soloist tights are about as close as it gets to indestructible - if we do say so ourselves - but still, don't risk it!). Double up on your supply of tights at showtime and make sure it's your fancy footwork and not your unravelling stockings that steal the show.
This rule doesn't just apply to tights either. For a catastrophe-proof concert bag, make sure you've got a spare leotard or any other basic items you or your child will be wearing tucked away in case of any pre-show accidents.
One of the most enjoyable rituals of performing is the therapeutic break that you get when it's time to sit down and put your make up on (or help someone else!). Be sure to include a spill-proof make-up bag (because nobody wants their lipstick going walkabout and leaving a snail-trail all over their tights!) complete with all your make-up, brushes, a small hand towel and the all-essential make-up wipes. And if you happen to need a hand finding exactly what make-up to get for performances, we've listed all the essentials for you here - it also includes a helpful tutorial for how to apply your stage make-up too!
The next key to perfect stage presentation is keeping a trusty hair kit in your bag with all the tools of the trade you need to tame flyaway hair into the perfect bun, braid or pony tail. The absolute must-haves are a large hairbrush, bobby pins, hair ties, a tail comb for getting a flawless part and copious amounts of hairspray! If you need a ballet bun, then it's essential to have bun pins and bun nets as well, plus a bun shaper if required (these are wonderful for filling out your bun if you have fine or short hair) and a compact mirror so you can make sure your hair is as pretty from the back as it is in the front. If you feel like adding something extra (and your teacher doesn't mind) you can accessorise with some beautiful rhinestone hairpins or a gorgeous matching velvet bow to help you shine on stage.
Camera and Charger.
This one is a no-brainer, but still something we wish we had been reminded of come performance time... because when you're thinking about costumes, choreography and how many relatives are in the audience, it's easy to forget to capture those special behind-the-scenes moments. One of the greatest things about performing is the wonderful friendships you make and the incredible moments you share during rehearsals, not to mention the adrenaline-fuelled hilarity that only happens backstage and in dressing rooms. So make sure you've got lasting memories of each year by packing a camera or your phone (and charger!).
Pointe Shoe Kit and a Few Spare Bags.
It makes life a lot easier if you know that all the things you need for pointe work are safe and sound in the one portable, easy-to-reach location during concerts. Keep you pointe shoes, lambs wool, pro pads, ribbons, rosin (don't get caught off guard when the stage is three times as slippery as the studio floor!), and some spare bandaids (fabric bandaids are best, as they let the skin breathe and absorb moisture without sliding straight off your sore toes) together with a needle, thread and a couple of safety pins (for any last-minute sewing/repairs) and you're all set!
Oh and don't forget to throw in a few spare plastic bags so you can keep your clean clothes separated from the rest of your not-so-fresh socks/shoes/tights!
Bonus tip: Our Eco Drawstring Bags make the perfect pointe shoe kit holder (easy to slip things in/out of and moulds to fit inside any larger dance bag)... plus, they're only $1!
Body Stockings and Costume Bag.
We know it's nearly Christmas, but festive stockings aren't the only important stockings you want to get your hands on! For that all important comfort and support that undergarments provide, make sure you include a body stocking in your dance bag come concert time. Stage lights have the tendency to make some pretty solid fabrics appear sheer - not to mention accentuate every tiny bump and seam on your body - so for a smooth, seamless finish get yourself a Seamless Body Stocking (we even have convertible ones for when you need to hide straps and ones with cup inserts for that extra bit of support).
Finally, there's nothing more panic-inducing than rushing backstage for a quick-change and finding that your costume isn't where you left it. So rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, pick up a Costume Bag and make sure you put your name or something else distinguishable on the front to keep your costumes in order. Having all your outfits in the one place between wears makes quick-changes so much less stressful and means that not only do you know where your things are, but other dancers won't accidentally mistake your stuff for theirs. Costume bags are also your best friend when it comes to bumping in and bumping out of the theatre, letting you easily transport your costumes to and from the venue.
There you have it! Absolutely everything you need to see you through concert-time this year... now break a leg!
To download the above check-list as a printable PDF with all your dance concert essentials listed, click here.