What Dancers Want: Recital Necessities

Recital season is a great opportunity to cater to the needs of local studios by finding out what brands of shoes, tights and even makeup they require of their students. But each dancer also has her own favorite products and organizational methods that help her pull off her best performance. We spoke with three competitive dancers to find out what they shop for during the recital season, and how they stay organized for 10 (!) or more dances.

Payton Hogan

The Dance Studio of Fresno
Fresno, CA

DRN: Do you ever need any specialty shoes for recital?

PH: We actually wear LaDuca character shoes for certain jazz routines, and I’ve also needed Doc Martens combat boots for a hip-hop routine. But otherwise, I use a Sansha canvas ballet shoe, which is thin and tight on my foot to allow great articulation, and Bloch jazz shoes, which are soft and stretch easily on the sides.

DRN: What undergarments do you use for performances?

PH: Nude leotards, for sure—I usually buy the Bloch nude leotard with clear straps. I also buy about five pairs of ballet tights with the seam up the back, since we do a lot of ballet routines.

DRN: Do you have any suggestions for how dance stores can be accommodating during recital season?

PH: We have a professional pointe shoe fitter who actually travels to our studio for fittings, usually three or four times a year. Sometimes local dance stores have limited stock in pointe shoes, so having a professional fitter come to find the right brand and style really makes a difference. I can then order my pointe shoes a couple of weeks before performance to have time to break them in for the shows.

Amanda Gordon

TDS Dance Company
Stoughton, MA

DRN: How do you keep all of your costumes and accessories organized for recital?

AG: I can store 8 to 10 costumes in my Rac n Roll, which also has little side pockets for costume accessories. Separately, I have a Sorise makeup suitcase that opens out into two expandable sides. Besides storing my makeup and brushes, it can also fit snacks and hair sprays.

DRN: What shoes do you purchase for your performance season?

AG: In March, which is the beginning of competition season, I need new Capezio half-soles, since the black marley scuffs them up a lot. I usually need three to four pairs throughout the performance season. This year, I will be doing a more classic jazz routine, so I also purchased Bloch Neo-flex jazz shoes for my solo.

DRN: What else have you found necessary to get you through performances?

AG: Sticky bra cups are a must—they work under any costume without showing straps. Body glue is perfect for costumes that I don’t wear tights with, to keep everything in place. I also love Ardell faux mink eyelashes, and I need a variety of L’Oréal lipstick colors to go with my different costumes.

Ellie Stevenson

The Greater Boston School of Dance
Natick, MA

DRN: What shoes and tights do you normally buy new for recital?

ES: About a week or two before recital, I purchase new ballet shoes and pointe shoes, since those are worn down the most. One year, I even had to cover my pointe shoes with makeup so they were a nude color for performance. I also need tan stirrup and footed tights, pink tights with a seam down the back and black fishnets. I usually buy two or three pairs of each to be sure I have enough backups.

DRN: What accessories do you bring to the theater for warming up and stretching?

ES: I use a foam yoga block to do oversplits as well as other stretches, and I also love to have a foam roller to help roll out sore muscles after my performance. Once I’ve stretched my feet, I keep them warm in ballet booties, and I love to wear trashbag shorts for their comfort and how easily I can move in them.

DRN: What other items could dance stores offer for the busy recital season?

ES: One of my local dance stores sells makeup kits with all of the essentials, and they even carried the brand my studio required. I also like to have first-aid items in my dance bag, such as Tiger Balm, Band-Aids and reusable ice packs.

Amy Smith is a dance teacher and writer based in Greensboro, NC.

February 2019

Photo by DanceSNAPS


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