What’s in a Dancer’s Bag?
It was a typical Sunday, 8 am, and my first task was braving through the elevator rush hour. This is when 80 performers with the same schedule call for the hotel elevators at the same time. Finally in the lobby, I then briskly walked out of the hotel, coffee in hand, and made it onto the bus just in time without being late and holding everyone up.
I plopped into my seat, arranged myself comfortably and let out a long exhale. It was time to savor that good cup of Joe. Mmmm... so aromatic... After half a sip, I jolted back with dismay—in my rush I had forgotten about creamer and sugar! Desperate, I wailed to my seat partners, hoping they somehow carried the ingredients. I was faced with an empathetic shake of heads, until, from a few seats back, I heard a sound of hope—and that hope was Chelsea Cai.
“Diana? Did you say you needed creamer?” said our principal dancer. “I also have milk and honey powder if you want.”
She walked up and flapped open her duffel bag, revealing a personalized grocery aisle of gourmet powders, avant-garde crystals, and delectable chocolates. We all gaped at her with surprise, for the things she offered in her duffel bag were out of the norm. With a sheepish smile, she said her “extra baggage” as a necessity; an energy sustenance vital to her demanding dance roles. We did admire her enthusiasm for coffee and milk, but with only a small suitcase and duffel to live out of for five months, we never thought of those items as a priority.
Our signature blue duffels carry the many essential we deem necessary as a Shen Yun dancer. After going around and inquiring with my fellow dancers about the things they used most often, I came up with this list of items we would never be caught without.
Here are the top nine things you are bound to see in our bags:
Papaw cream: Fermented papaya may sound like a total turnoff, but Shen Yun dancers swear by this. Introduced by our Australian members, this multipurpose cream heals our cracked heels, marley floor burns and self-inflicted scratches (catching your foot next to your head is not that easy!).
Dry shampoo: With a busy schedule, we often cram a shopping session or dine-out after a show; this is where dry shampoo comes to the rescue—our ponytail-bound kinks and sweat-laced locks are instantly smoothed out!
Hairpins and clips: A girl’s best weapons to execute a sleek, tight bun. We always have an abundant supply of bobby pins, elastics and scunci clips—all stored in dainty soap tins and pretty little pouches.
Pocket Swiss knives: A must-have European souvenir, the Swiss knife is a staple in every performer’s bag. Loose threads, frayed handkerchiefs, split-ends, stubborn tags... can all be done away with using this functional tool.
Dancewear: We ditch the tutus and leotards—the key for us is low maintenance, which means shirt and pants. If it’s black, slim-fitted and breathable, it counts as dancewear. Sometimes, an extra set is very helpful when we’re soaked with sweat from intense training.
Tiger balm: In humid areas like Taiwan, it’s always a good idea to carry this popular Chinese household item, for those pesky mosquitoes have no mercy! Similar to the celebrity-praised Rosebud Salve, its strong smell and invigorating after-effect also serves as a wake up call when feeling drowsy on a long bus day.
Journal: This year, we do things a bit differently. For a healthier, proactive lifestyle, we Shen Yun performers have agreed to go smart device free. That’s right, no iPhones, Androids, or tablets! We’ve broken free from hyper-dependency on the internet and, as a bonus, have grown closer as a team. And we’ve discovered that old-fashioned notebooks are a great convenience. Whether it’s capturing a burst of ideas, jotting down newfound revelations, or making a to-do list, the classic notebook never freezes. Apple is out and Moleskine is in. This is also a great opportunity to perfect our fonts!
Zhuan Falun: One of the most treasured items we possess, Zhuan Falun is an enlightening book that can always restore peace in our stressful, hectic lives. It instructs us to abide by the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance and has by far, changed our lives.
Chocolate: We agree with Chelsea on this one; chocolate does give us that extra kick of energy that we sometimes seek. During a two-hour-long training session, we are often seen smuggling squares of Ghirardelli into the studio.
After journeying the different corners of the globe, we have determined these are the most functional, practical items for our fast-paced, on-the-go way of life.
What’s in your bag? Do you have any tips to share?
March 7, 2016