What to Carry in Your Dance Bag
Here is a List of Things that I have found useful to carry in my dance bag. (Some items (*) I carry only when I am going to auditions or to a new studio while the rest are items that I like to have with me for every day class(es). Just because this is my list it doesn't mean you won't find other things that are useful or that you will find that you "never" use some items on this list. These are just the things I have, personally, found useful to my own dancing journey. (A lot of it depends on your studio and the studio's rules and guidelines as well.)
Your Dance Shoes
This is every kind of shoe that you might need for class. So if you are going for Ballet, Pointe, and then a Tap class, you will need, Flats, Pointe Shoes, and Tap Shoes. (Many people have got in the habit of just leaving all their shoes in their bags all the time, although this can be nice, if you happen to be a person that sweats a lot your shoes can begin to grow mold and fungus. Which is unhealthy and dangerous for your bodies. They do make specialty "dance shoe" bags that are supposed to help with this by having "air holes" so your shoes can get air to them.)
An Extra Pair of Tights, Leotard/ Dance Belt, and your Warm Ups
This depends on your studio's dress codes, but let me tell you, I have gotten surprised more than once in my life time and shown up to class without a Leotard or Tights and was really thankful for the spare in my bag. If you are at a studio where they don't allow any rips or snags in your tights, (some of my past studios) I traditionally carried two pairs of extra tights, because you never know when those silly things will run!
Hairbrush/ Comb, Elastic, Barrettes, Pins, and Hairspray
I don't know how many times a week as a Dance Teacher I am asked if I have an Elastic or Bobby Pins or Hairspray. If you have a stash in your bag you will always be prepared to throw your hair up into a "Ballerina Bun" before class even if "life" got in the way that day.
There is actually two reasons I suggest carrying a towel. If you are a serious Ballet Dancer a lot of teachers will use a towel to help teach "dooming" and it is always nice to use your own towel or to have one to practice with during your downtime. The Second Reason is if you get hot and sweaty during a class it is nice to have a towel to wipe your sweat off, not only for you but for your other dancers. Sweat can be very dangerous when you are trying to partner dance... also "gross" although we all do it.
This will come in handy for those of you that are in Ballet as well, as many teachers use them to help teach techniques during a Pre-pointe/ Pointe class. They are also very handle for "Rolling Out" your muscles! Something every dancer should get in the habit of doing!
Needle and Thread
Even if you sew your shoes before class, I have been in many classes where a strap came off a shoe or a button came undone or my leotard go a tiny tear in it. A Needle and thread are very useful to fix the issues as they arise in the studio, especially if something weird happens with one of your shoes.
If you are a younger dancer as you are becoming older, this is a must in your dance bag. There is nothing worse then dancing next to someone all afternoon that isn't wearing any deodorant and is smelly. Depending on how much you naturally sweat should be how many times you reapply during your class days. I once knew a co-student that reapplied her deodorant after every hour class because of the amount that she sweat.
Perfume or Cologne
This is very similar to Deodorant. It can help freshen you up after your dance classes. Although, I just want to point out one little fact, "nose blindness"! You can become nose blind to your own smell, so just because you cannot smell it anymore does not mean that you don't smell like your perfume or cologne anymore. Have someone, a friend, that hasn't been around you smell you and see if you need a second dose before you go "dumping the bottle" on yourself. Because smelling like a Perfume/ Cologne Factory isn't that much better then a stinky- sweaty kid!
Antiseptic Wipes, Antibiotic Ointment, and Bandaids
You never know when you are going to get a blister, cut, or fall and break something open in class. Most studios are equip to deal with injuries, even minor ones but sometimes it is just easier to grab your supply out of your own bag and put it on. If you are someone that is Health Conscience and is very specific about the kinds of Antiseptic or Antibiotics on body for whatever reason or if you are allergic to certain kinds of bandaids it is probably best if you carry your own and many studios do not carry a wide variety in their first aid kits.
I haven't seen them in a LONG time, but I always loved the "Listerine" Strip that you could put right on your tongue. Those were the best. Most the time now I just stick with a heavy duty mint. This is a lot like deodorant and perfume/ cologne, you are in a class with a bunch of people in close quarters, you don't want to be breathing your onion and pesto sandwich you have for lunch on all of them, especially if you have a partner.
This is so important! I have only about half my students that actually bring water to class and, let's be honest, I was one of those naughty kids when I was younger, I was really bad about remembering my water. But when I went on tour all of that changed. I found the real importance of drinking water while working out and the physical advantages it gave my body.
Protein Bar/ Shake
So as I have become older I have moved to really enjoying a "good" protein shake. I am sure many of you have seen me carrying them around at the studio before class or during my class breaks. But when I was a student it was easier to just throw a bar into my bag. Both are good and really neither one is "better" than the other, it just comes down to preference. I find that drinking something in my limited time between classes is easier for me then snacking on a bar. And if parents have questions I can politely sip on my shake instead of scarfing down the bar.
A Healthy Snack
Research shows that eating small amounts of healthy food is actually really good for your body when you are exercising. So carrying around a healthy snack with give you something to go to during a class break when you need a little pick me up. There has been several times when unexpectedly a class took more out of me then I thought it would or I wanted it too. I was glad to have some healthy "pick-me-ups" to bring my blood sugar back to where it needed to be for my next class... in 5 minutes.
A Plastic Bag
Now, I don't typically carry this in my bag, personally, but most of my dance friends did. I have a medical condition that keeps me from sweating on most parts of my body. (weird right) You may think this sounds lovely, but really it is very dangerous and I can overheat super easily and I have to watch and maintain my body temperature constantly. But I had those friends that would sweat and their clothing would be wet after class. They would typically take their clothing and place it in this plastic bag so the sweat and smell wouldn't get on everything else in the bag. I mean who wants gross, sweaty leotards all over their water bottle cap? But keep in mind if you don't take it out when you get home to wash it, you will have a fuzzy green leotard before too long. (Eww.)
Notebook and Pencil
Everybody learns differently and holds information differently. If you have been with the studio for any length of time you have experiences a few different dance teachers in your time. There is me, and a couple other teachers, that carry around their "Choreography Notebooks" everywhere they go and we protect them like they are "precious." There are those that prefer to use digital notes (iPad form) I tried this... it does not WORK! And there are those that seemly can just keep it straight in their head. But even if you are a "keep straight" kind of person you never know when you will need to write down a phone number, special date, or a specific move that your dance teacher needs you to remember.
Now, there was a time that I carried a book around with me everywhere I went and you will occasionally see me with an actual book. (Actually, I love reading REAL books, it is the smell... you can't get that from a kindle) Most the time, I have traded my book for some ear buds and will listen to audiobooks in my down time as they are a lot easier to carry and the same thing gets accomplished. It is something to do that is productive with your time when "downtime" at the studio arises.
Now I realize there are so of you that are not old enough to shave, some that don't shave, and some that just plain don't care. You do you, Boo! I happen to be one of those people with extremely hairy legs and where my hair is SO dark, basically black, they show really bad. I don't always carry one with me if I am just going to classes but if I am auditioning I always carry one, because it has happened to me more than once where I needed to change my leotard and/or tights for the audition and I was glad I had a razor to touch things up. (If you are of fairer hair or have less hair altogether it might not be such a big deal to you.)
I don't carry these with me to class every week... because I feel it is important to be real with you guys and let you see at my best and my worst. But if I am going to an audition or a performance I ALWAYS carry it with me. You never know when you sweat some off, a little kid with wipe some off, or just regular wear will make certain parts fade, and I always want to look fresh and pristine.
* Extra Headshot and Resume
Come with all the copies you were told to bring, but I don't think I have ever shown up to an audition where I didn't give out my extra Headshot for some reason or another. It shows that you are professional, thought ahead, and have come prepared.
Now, living in Delta, Colorado where we get rain "once" a year... I don't even own an umbrella. However, when I have gone to auditions and my professional friends that go to auditions in New York or places like that that you know, see water in the sky, they always carry an umbrella. You don't want to show up to auditions looking like a wet dog. You want to be professional and pristine!
So, there you have it! A pretty robust list of items you should carry in your dance bag. Now, like I said at the beginning, I am not saying that you cannot add your personal touch to this list or take away from it based on your personality or studio requirements but this is a great place to begin.