A Dancer's Essentials: Be Prepared

If you're serious about performing, you need to be prepared with all the items you'll need for most any performance situation or emergency. If you don't already have one, consider getting a rolling suitcase as your performance bag. Some things you may want in your dancer's bag

·         The right costume for the right situation. Pay attention to your setting and to what you plan to dance. What is the appropriate style? Even within two piece bedla costumes, there is a great deal of variety, so consider your surroundings. Who will be there? Where will you dance? Will there be tipping in the belt? Your skimpiest two-piece costume with a pencil-thin slit skirt and multiple large cutouts may not be the best choice for floor work on a raised restaurant stage at a Muslim family wedding.

  •  Costume Tip: If you don’t have a closet full of costumes and plan to invest in one or two to start out, consider costumes that are relatively classic: costumes without too many cutouts that travel well, are sturdy, and of a good, adaptable color. Bra and belt sets offer maximum flexibility. You can pair them with a variety of skirts and accessories to create different looks

·         Makeup and cosmetics case or bag with your stage cosmetics.

·         Pads in various sizes. Almost everyone needs to pad sometimes—even well endowed girls. Most of us fluctuate in size throughout the month. You can permanently sew pads into your costumes, but it’s also a good idea to bring extras.

  •  Costume Tip: Be sure to pin loose pads in to the bra. Few things are more distracting than a shoulder pad poking out of your bra in the middle of your set!

·         Spare underwear. Eek! You arrive for your gig and realize you're wearing your laundry day granny panties that won't fit under the costume! Have 1-3 extra pairs of underwear that you keep in your bag precisely *because* they fit under your costumes.

·         Dance Jewelry. Consider what type is right for you and for your costume: Gold or silver metals, coin, rhinestones, beads or other jewels, etc.

·         A cover-up.  A caftan or other robe to cover your costume (or your underwear!) while you’re waiting to go on.

·         Zills. Ideally, set aside one pair of zills to be your "performance zills" and keep them with your dance bag.

·         Veils. As with zills, keep these attention getters handy, even if you aren't sure you'll use them..

·         Dance shoes and/or slip ons. If you are going to dance outdoors, you may want to bring a dance sandal of some kind in case the surface is rough. If you will be dancing in an eating or drinking establishment, bring a pair of slip-on shoes to wear when you walk through the kitchen or make your way to the stage—remember, there may be slippery grease, food, or broken glass on the floor..

·         Performance CD. Always bring backup—either additional options or the original CD of your music.

·         Deoderant or antiperspirant. Don't rely on what you applied in the morning to get you through the show—keep a spare good, strong deodorant or antiperspirant container with your dance wear.

·         Toothpaste and/or mints. One taste of garlic dip can do you in. Plus, nerves often lead to dry-mouth which can lead to bad breath.

·         Perfume or fragrance. Consider something you dab on rather than spray as your dressing space may be shared with other people, functions, or equipment. Liquids applied directly to the skin are less annoying to others (and less combustible!) than spritzes. Essential oils are nice—a small dab on a couple pressure points will gently release fragrance as your skin becomes warm with exertion.

·         Safety pins. A must-have for quick fixes and reinforcement. Look for strong pins in various sizes.

·         Small sewing kit. It's some kind of rule: hooks will generally rip off at the most inopportune moments. Plus, sweat weakens threads. Don’t get caught off guard.

·         Hand towel for mopping up sweat or water spills.

·         Makeup remover wipes for emergency makeup fixes or to "tone down" the look before you leave the venue. There are several brands of these wipes. I'm partial to the dispenser package of makeup remover wipes from MAC—good removal without being overly drying or oily.

·         Spot cleaner. Shout Sheets are a great product. Use them to get small stains out right away because many costumes can't be washed.

·         A small bottle of baby powder. Reduce friction between your thighs for shimmies or on the balls of your feet on sticky surfaces. Baby powder can also help you freshen up after a show.

·         Tweezers.  Use it to pull out slivers of wood or glass or beads that get lodged in your foot.

·         Bandaids. In case of small cuts and scrapes.

·         Hairspray. Even if you don’t normally use it, you may need it when you dance. Also, a little hairspray can help "rough up” the crown for balance dances (i.e. sword) if you have straight, smooth hair.

·         Static Guard. to help keep veils and skirts from attacking.

·         Barrettes, hair clips, and/or bobby pins. Also, any hair accessories you need, especially if you wear hairpieces for performance.

·         Brush and/or comb.

·         Protein/sports bar. Many dancers find it hard to eat before they perform, but you never want to start a gig. too hungry. This is also useful if a gig goes longer or starts later than you expect.

·         Nail polish. Consider two: Clear for quick-fixes to beads on costumes, and a color for fingertips and toes.

·         Curling irons and other hair appliances, if needed.

·         Tylenol, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or other pain reliever for stiff muscles and minor pains.  

·         Antacids to help combat a nervous stomach.

·         Allergy medication, if needed.

·         A personal CD player can be a nice idea if you would like to listen to your music backstage.

·         A water bottle. Remember to stay hydrated.


(c) Mirah Ammal, 2006