Show and Tell: Inside Polina Semionova's Dance Bag

Published in the December 2011/January 2012 issue.

Photo by Nathan Sayers

International superstar Polina Semionova, a principal with Staatsballett Berlin, guests with companies all over the world, all the time. Thanks to her crazy travel schedule, she’s pared her dance bag down to just the essentials: pointe shoes, the orange dusting cloths she uses as shoe padding (“that’s a trick from the dancers in Berlin”), a bag of ribbons (“in case I have a spare minute to sew some shoes”) and a DVD player to help her learn whatever ballet she’ll be performing next. She confesses that she left her chocolate, another definite must-have, behind at the theater on the day of her Pointe photo shoot.

But the canvas bag in which Semionova carries her basics isn’t basic at all. “It’s a funny story—it’s from a German boxer, a woman, who loves the ballet,” she explains. “Somebody told me that she was a fan, so I invited her to come see me perform. Then she invited me to watch her train at this big sports center in Berlin, where the German teams prepare for the Olympics. Afterwards, she gave me this bag, with the name of the sports center on it, as a special present.”

The Goods

Foot roller, pink thread for sewing shoes, Japanese cooling gel (“magical on my legs and feet after rehearsal”), blue blanket (“for warmth when I’m stretching—studio floors can be so cold!”), dusting cloths, DVD player (with a DVD of American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, which Semionova was performing the following week), bag of ribbons, stretching straps, flat shoes, pointe shoes.