Pennsylvania Ballet principal Lillian DiPiazza is all about efficiency: Her head-to-toe routine is chock-full of dancer-friendly hacks. For instance, she sews pointe shoes in record time with thick, pink thread. "I can put four stitches on each side and it holds," she says. Similarly, a single alligator hairclip from a boutique in Philadelphia does the job of many more hairpins.

Some of the items in DiPiazza's Marc Jacobs tote (chosen for its lightness) seem out of place in a dance bag. Rather than lambswool or toe pads, she uses Clorox Handi Wipes. "They're similar to paper towels but a little bit more substantial," she says. "You can use them for a couple days, then just toss them in the trash." And in place of a plastic water bottle, which she was prone to losing, DiPiazza hydrates from a large glass jar. Bonus: The jar is easy to clean, and she throws in mint, lemons or other fruits for flavor.


The Goods from left: Stage makeup; rhinestones (for decorating pointe shoes in Cinderella); booties; Clorox Handi Wipes Multi-Use Reusable Cloths; legwarmers ("These are from Marshalls. They're lightweight but super-warm!"); Thera-Bands; Tulips by Tracy skirt; ballet slippers; pointe shoes ("I usually have a harder pair and a softer pair"); headphones; elephant-pattern bag containing gel toe tips, BFI powder, Tiger Balm and a bouncy ball ("To roll out the bottom of my feet"); thread spool; Epicuren face mist ("It's an enzyme toner. I'll mist it on my face and neck to freshen up between rehearsals"); Marc Jacobs tote; water jar; glittery cross pouch containing Advil and Emergen-C; hair clip.

Photo by Jim Lafferty


For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Cauthorn and Strongin, two to watch at SFB, in "Frankenstein." Photo by Erik Tomasson. Courtesy SFB.

Max Cauthorn was an on-the-rise corps member when he stepped into the title role of Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein last February; when the curtain came down, he was San Francisco Ballet's newest leading man. In his first full-length starring role, he carried the physically and emotionally demanding three-hour ballet with fluent technique and a natural charisma. But he didn't do it alone: In her own lead-role debut with SFB, soloist Lauren Strongin brought tenderness and steely integrity to Frankenstein's true love, Elizabeth.

Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

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Postelwaite and Pantastico's powerful reunion in "Cendrillon." Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

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via Instagram

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Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet.

This time of year, we're used to seeing dancers embodying the flavors of The Nutcracker's magical Land of Sweets. But the real-life equivalents of those seasonal treats are more than just holiday guilty pleasures, and have benefits that could help you get through a crazy month of performances. Here are a few reasons to indulge in the spices and flavors of the season—now, and all year long.

Peppermint

This powerhouse herb has an abundance of benefits to help you get through a busy performance season. It's been known to aid digestion and help calm anxiety, and one study found that inhaling its vapors may improve athletic performance. Smelling peppermint has also been found to increase focus. You don't just have to get it from candy canes: Try brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea between rehearsals, or to wind down after a long day.

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Richmond Ballet dancers show off two adoptable shelter dogs at its annual "Pupcracker." Photo courtesy Richmond Ballet

If you're looking to upstage Clara, there's no better way to do it than with a four-legged furry friend—especially when that furry friend is looking for its forever home. Cue Richmond Ballet: During its December 16 and 21 matinees, the company is teaming up with the Richmond SPCA to present the "Pupcracker," special Nutcracker performances featuring adoptable shelter dogs. Several pups make their stage debut during the party scene as the guests bring their family pets to and from the Silberhaus home. Audience members can then meet—and adopt—the dogs during intermission and after the performance. The SPCA even provides a crate, collar, leash and treats so that patrons can bring their new family members home after the show.


Audience members can meet and adopt featured dogs during intermission. Photo Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Merle Park in "The Nutcracker" (1968). Photo by Donald Southern, Courtesy of the Royal Opera House Collections.

Given the thousands of incarnations The Nutcracker has undergone—from tiny-tot productions in small-town studios to grand modern classics—the ballet's Grand Pas de Deux from Act II has remained remarkably intact. With slight variations, most professional dancers have seen its familiar choreography at some point or another. Tchaikovsky's radiant score calls to mind elegant promenades, partnered penchées and slow, supported développés.

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Photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris.

I have flatter feet and want to make them look better on pointe. Are there any special pointe shoes for my foot type? —Joana

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