Think your dancer’s toolkit has what it needs? You already know that dancing requires a high level of movement and physicality. Each audition, rehearsal, or performance is its own workout. You probably don’t need us to tell that being a good dancer requires a lot of gear—arguably more than for the other on-stage theatre disciplines.

In a rush, it’s easy to forget to grab everything you’ll need for your performance. So, use this short post to create a checklist for yourself of what to take every time. Then use the checklist to put your dancer’s toolkit together for the next time. These are the must-have items you need to include:

dancer's toolkit 2

Students at ITF 2022 dance workshop with Santana Trujillo. Photo David Slaughter Photography Network.

Dancer’s Toolkit #1 Item: Shoes

There are almost as many kinds of dance shoes as there are styles of dance! To perform your best across different styles, have a variety of well-fitting shoes: character, jazz, tap, and ballet, to name just a few. You might find pairs in good shape at a flea market or thrift store.
Don’t forget to write your name on the inside of each shoe. You don’t want to get them mixed up with someone else’s!

Dancer’s Toolkit Items for Comfort

Water bottle
Hydration is your key to success. Drink lots of water to keep your muscles working well and prevent yourself from overheating or getting unnecessarily sore. Stick with regular, unflavored water—save the Gatorade or other drinks with electrolytes for after your rehearsals and performances.

Jacket & Legwarmers
Since you’ll likely be wearing something cool and form-fitting, bring along other clothes to wear that you can layer on and off as your body temperature changes. Legwarmers and sweatpants will also help keep your muscles warm and loose between sessions.

Extra Socks & Tights
Depending on how long you’ll be dancing, you may need another pair of tights in case your first tears. Changing into dry socks will also prevent a buildup of sweat—no one wants to dance with smelly feet!

Items Not to Forget!

Hair Supplies
If you’ve got long hair, keep it out of your face by bringing extra bobby pins, barrettes, and hair ties. You might consider a headband or bandana with a bright design instead, to help you stand out from the crowd. In addition to helping you see better while dancing, keeping your hair up will also help you be seen by the director, who can make notes about your facial expressions.

Pack healthy snack choices that have a combination of protein and carbs. Avoid anything with a lot of sugar or sodium (salt), which will hinder your performance or make you thirsty. Put your snacks in easy-to-access, resealable containers. You may only have a few minutes to refuel and you don’t want to be messing with messy packaging or trying to decide what to do with the leftovers you don’t eat.

You might also bring mints to keep your breath fresh. (Do not bring gum, which is easy to accidentally swallow and hard to dispose of!)

Wet wipes
When it comes to wet wipes, you’ll find a huge array of options: baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, sanitary wipes, etc. Whichever you choose, wipes can help you clean everything: hands, workout equipment, surfaces where you want to sit, messes you make, and more. (To reference a famous “dance” movie—don’t put those baby wipes in a corner!)

First-aid Kit
You’ll likely pick up a few knocks and bruises in your career as a dancer. Stock your kit with ace wraps, sports tape, bandages and instant ice packs. Don’t forget other first-aid standards like like over-the-counter painkillers and antibiotic ointment.

Stretch Bands & a Towel
Stay limber with this easy-to-store and carry workout gear. Even if you don’t have bands, use a towel to help you stretch out your legs and back.
Speaking of workouts, make sure you have a sturdy surface at home to help with stretches and warm-ups. You don’t need a barre or workout bench—a simple sturdy wooden chair will suffice.

And Last But Not Least…

Sewing Kit
It’s only a matter of time until all that movement takes a toll on your clothes. A needle and thread can help you mend simple tears, and a small pair of scissors will cut any loose threads.

Phone Charger & Bluetooth Speaker
Your phone should stay charged—not so you can text during rehearsal, but so you can use it to record choreography or play music for rehearsal. A bluetooth speaker will help you amplify the latter. You might also consider bringing bluetooth headphones, so you can practice on your own or listen to the music while marking choreography.

Dancer’s Toolkit Bag
Look for something with several pockets, and select a professional design (dark, solid colors).

For more dance tips, check out these lists of some basic jazz steps everyone should know, plus these three steps to nailing a dance audition

Andrew Koch is a writer and editor from Cincinnati. His wife, whose favorite dance style is tap, helped him compile this list.

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