What’s In My Bag?: Dancer Edition

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Body Guide: What’s Inside My Bag

Last month, I talked to you guys about my plan to gain weight, gain muscle and get healthier (I know the gain weight part might seem oxymoronic to those who don’t know me or my health problems, but it really is a good thing). Since stem transplant and getting my J tube a few months ago, I have actually successfully gained back some much needed weight- not as much as I’d want, but still a step in the right direction. It seems like my body is just absorbing better overall for whatever reason- I have literally changed very little about my routine, so maybe it’s just a couple of months without major surgeries or trauma.

Since last month, however, I have actually started to focus on some new goals too: getting back into dancing. Mind you, I’ve never been “out” of dancing because I’ve always taught or choreographed in some capacity for the last decade. I normally bounce back from surgeries or hospitalizations within a couple of weeks, and try to start the journey towards being in “saute shape” all over again. Still, there is a significant difference between dancing for your craft, and dancing for your career: and being active in the dance world is something I haven’t been able to do for awhile. Thus far, any time I’ve brought the idea up to friends or family, they reply in the same way: “Don’t push yourself too hard.” I get what they mean, and that’s likely exactly what I would say too (you know, if I had a true Black Swan moment and took outer monologues a bit too serious).

Unfortunately, if dance is defined as anything, it’s defined almost entirely as pushing yourself too hard… so I’m not sure how to do it any other way. From the physical standpoint, my body is inspired by The Who: a teenage wasteland of broken parts and neglected flexibility. My back hasn’t been the same since I fractured pieces off two vertebrae as a teenager (falling down stairs), leaving my arabesque and combret a shadow of their former selves. Since spraining my knee recently (falling UP stairs), my recovery has been slow, with joints and muscles continuing to cause trouble. I’m not sure how else a body is supposed to react to years of heavy duty drugs, bed riddled sickness and feeling like you constantly have a hangover, but… well, perhaps Keith Richards can serve as case study? I’m pretty sure my limbs and organs are holding up beautifully, considering, even if my hinderances and limitations were not by choice (thanks DARE).

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Even with the positive impact of stem cell transplant on my organs and lung capacity, I still feel like I have the stamina of a 95 year old on most days (and that’s possibly an insult to the 95 year old). But, being that I’m a teacher first and foremost, there is one crucial thing to be said about all of the above: there is no such thing as a good excuse. Dance IS pain, highness, so… “the best things in life take work”, “no pain, no gain”, “don’t take the stairs” and all of those other applicable idioms.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that my short-winded self is delving deeper into the professional side of the world I love… and, for those of you nerdy enough to care, here is what I plan to pack along the way. That’s right. Prepare yourself for an epic look inside my metaphoric (and highly aromatic) dance bag!

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My Vog Mask: My lungs hate pretty much every season on earth (because nearly every season is germ season)… but maybe nowhere more so than in a dance studio. I love teaching small children and I’d never scare them with my Deadpool face coverage – minus baby hand of course- but sparing myself cold season is crucial as often as possible when I’m out and about in public places. Even when I’d rather blend in with my peers, I must protect myself outside of the studio if I want to keep dancing. In fact, since my stem transplant and most recent infections, I’m trying to be extra careful about wearing my Vog mask in condensed areas (Maracana stadium, Beijing Capital International Airport, the island of Santa Cruz de Islote, the DMV, or Target during a 50% off sale). Right now, I am loving this Butterfly design from the Manish Arora Collection by Vogmask so much so that I’ll be doing a giveaway on the Catching Breath Facebook page starting today… so go check it out!

Nude Tape: This may seem self explanatory (tape is great for preventing blisters on areas with which pointe shoes usually irritate), but it is actually good for more than one thing. Other than sufficing as a bra for those of us on the Itty Bitty crew, it also covers up the majority of my tattoos because – at least for ballerinas- that’s actually something we have to do. Kat Von D makeup can also do wonders for ink coverage, but (at least for me) tape works the best for concealing your badges of honor without rubbing off on a costume. Finally, if applying a cat eye on your eyelids isn’t your forte, try placing a small amount of tape under or beside your eye in the desired angle for your liquid liner or shadow, and then just draw, remove and move on with your day, mess free.

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Magic Creams: If I started this paragraph by boasting my love of Prep H, you might skip a beat (unless you’ve also pushed a baby out of your nethers, in which case.. zero beats skipped). Fortunately, hemorrhoid cream is handy for a lot more than hineys (hinies? How does one pluralize that?), it can also de-puff under eye bags when you woke up remembering that you’re a mother, as well as numb painful toes when you’ve entre-chat-six’d one too many times. Yes, you heard me right: slap a little H on your blisters and bunions, add some of the afore mentioned nude tape over top, and get on with life. I also find that the longer the day of dancing, the more dehydrated I look (see also: Keith Richards). Right now I’m loving Derm Institute Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque every-other night. Even though it’s called a mask, it goes on like the most intensive hydrating cream you could imagine, and doesn’t leave you looking slimy or greasy at all. It’s expensive, but so far a little goes a long way, and the individual packets make it perfect to throw in your bag and go. I literally slather it all over my face, neck and hands, and then pass out in bed because you don’t have to wash it off until the next day. (Yes, when I pass out, I do in fact fold into the position of the dying swan from Swan Lake. Thank you for asking.)

Clear Polish: I like my nail polish like I like my coffee: as black as my soul. (Actually, that’s a lie. Ever since pregnancy warped my taste buds, I like a splash of coffee with my creamer… but it doesn’t sound as cool in a catch phrase.) Even though I’m super Panic at the Disco when it comes to my polish, most performances require no shade at all, so I begrudgingly go for clear instead. The only problem is that my nails are not as cute as they used to be (just like –), so they need a little help. I’ve been using a soft nude or light pink shade, and then adding this Sally Hansen Gel Shine 3D Top Coat to create an instant gel manicure without the light (I’m obsessed with their gel polish collection in general, so this new invention was about as too good to be true as —). If you don’t have time to wait for your nails, you can add these Sally Hansen Dry and Go Drops to any polish and it’ll speed up the process. Also, clear polish serves as a quick blister cover-up if you’re in a pinch (I mean, it’ll hurt and it’s not advisable, but it’ll provide some protection for the blister if you have no other options), or it can stop runs in your tights before they become Britney Spears Couture without your permission.

Now it’s your turn: What’s in your dance or gym bag? Do any of these dancer tips apply to your workout routine? Do any of your fitness tips apply to we dancers? Comment, discuss, chat… I can’t wait to learn from you!

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Yours Without Filter,

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Periodically, posts on Makeover Momma are sponsored, either for my time or in the form of complementary products, but all opinions, suggestions and commentary are 100% my own.

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