"The most important thing in my bag is the dishwashing towel,” laughs Nadja Saidakova, principal dancer with Berlin Staatsoper Ballett. She’s referring to the ordinary dishwashing cloths that can substitute for paper towels inside pointe shoes. Unlike paper, the brightly colored dishrags don’t roll up inside the shoe and cause painful blisters. “Actually, most important are the shoes,” she quickly adds. “Without pointe shoes, I don’t need the whole bag!” Saidakova typically carries five pairs of pointe shoes in her bag: one brand-new pair, one that’s slightly worn, one pair that’s soft and two that are not sewn, just in case she finds time to sew between rehearsals. She’s been carrying this particular bag for eight years and tucked among the pointe shoes, “there is a good luck gift that [BSB artistic director and principal dancer] Vladimir Malakhov gave me as a merde when we first danced together,” she says, of the stuffed animal [see inset]. “I carry this gift always.”
Pointe shoes, leg warmers, booties, ballet slippers, toe separators, spiked massage ball, foot roller, dishwashing cloths, stuffed animal, bon-bons for dry throat, tissues, scissors, elastic, ribbon, needle and thread, Tiger Balm, Band-Aids, spray bottle filled with water for softening shoes, two X-acto knives to cut pointe shoe shanks, water bottle and emergency mini-container of rosin for her heels.