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Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Jenelle Figgins Shares Her Favorite Albums, Essential Oils & More Dance Bag Must-Haves

Photo by Kyle Froman

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancer Jenelle Figgins' dance bag reflects her proactive approach to well- being. Rather than carrying a one-shouldered bag, which aggravates her back problems, she switched to a backpack. The rest of her essentials are neatly packed into their own small containers. "You know how you have a junk drawer? This is my junk bag, my safety net," she says. Inside, there's everything from face wash to homeopathic products like lavender essential oil and Bach Rescue Remedy, a flower essence. "They help calm me down when I'm dealing with stress throughout the day," she says. "I didn't know about Rescue Remedy until I came to Colorado, but all the dancers use it."

When she's seeking focus or motivation, Figgins turns to her favorite Philips headphones. "I carry these around all the time and I always have music on," she says. Currently, she's listening to albums like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and Solange's A Seat at the Table. Figgins is also a huge reader: "I bring books on tour and then I buy more." In addition to novels, she likes to read books with positive affirmations, like Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.


Photo by Kyle Froman


The Goods (from top): The North Face backpack; Free People bag holding toe pads and various rehearsal and performance socks; mouthwash; lavender essential oil ("I'll do a steam bath with this when I'm on tour"); Bach Rescue Remedy; Cetaphil face wash and lotion; Christian Lacroix notebook ("I journal and take notes throughout the day, and I also write short stories"); books; rice paper blotters; massage balls; packet of honey ("Usually I have a big bottle, but I just ran out. I use it for skin care and energy"); instant-oatmeal packet; blue bag for shoes and booties; exercise band; KT tape; Target bag; Curious George key chain ("This was a gift from one of my dance partners, Craig Black. It makes me laugh"); Lysine ointment; Tiger Balm; Voltaren pain relief gel; Maison Ullens makeup bag with Afro hair pick ("I'm a natural girl"); baby wipes; Philips headphones; Target booties; flat shoes; pointe shoes.

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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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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.

Artistic director Stoner Winslett first reached out to SPCA CEO Robin Starr, a former Richmond Ballet board president and current trustee emerita, about partnering up seven years ago. Since then the company has presented 17 "Pupcracker" performances, resulting in 34 adoptions. "I think 'Pupcracker' has been very successful not only in getting dogs adopted on site, but also in raising awareness about shelter pets," says Winslett, who has rescued five dogs herself from the SPCA over the years.


Artistic director Stoner Winslett (far right) with Richmond Ballet dancers and an adoptable dog. Photo courtesy Richmond Ballet

Richmond Ballet isn't the only company partnering up with local animal shelters. Fort Wayne Ballet and Sacramento Ballet host similar adoption events during their Nutcracker productions. We really hope this trend catches on!

Photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris.

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Photo by Kyle Froman

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Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

As the investigation into claims of sexual harassment by New York City Ballet ballet master in chief Peter Martins remains under wraps, more dancers are speaking publicly on the matter. And while many allegations are decades old, dancers with recent and current ties to the company are becoming more vocal.

Yesterday, Kathryn Morgan—a former NYCB soloist with a hugely popular YouTube channel and an advice column in Dance Spirit—posted a candid video addressing questions she's received about the scandal. Although Morgan left the company in 2012, her post sheds light on the mixed emotions that current NYCB dancers may be feeling right now. "This is an issue that NEEDS to be discussed," she writes in the comments section. "And I appreciate that you all understand I am in no way defending him. I just wanted to give you my honest and true experience with dealing and working with Peter."



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Leo toe pads. Photo Courtesy Dance Retailer News.

There are a ton of different kinds of toe pads out there, and even more opinions about them. It's all about finding the perfect balance between control and comfort. Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop reviews five different types of pointe shoe toe pads.


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Texas Ballet Theater's Brett Young as Edward Scissorhands in "The Nutty Nutcracker." Photo by Steven Visneau, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater.

On December 15, Texas Ballet Theater will set aside its familiar Nutcracker costumes, variations and sets for their one-night-only performance of The Nutty Nutcracker. A satirical take on the classic story, The Nutty Nutcracker combines the most riotous in current pop culture and politics with Tchaikovsky's well-worn refrains.

TBT dancers portray Elsa and Olaf in the snow scene of the Nutty Nut in 2015. Photo by Ellen Appel, Courtesy TBT.

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