San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Inside Frances Chung's Dressing Room: Her Must-Have Items and Pre-Performance Rituals

A dancer's dressing room is often her "home away from home." In our August/September issue, we went backstage with three ballerinas, including San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung. Below, she shows us how she personalizes her space and walks us through her pre-performance routine.

The setup: Chung basically moves in to her theater's dressing room once the season starts. She shares her space with three other dancers, and notes that the vintage metal vanities come down a little too low. "We hit our knees on them all the time—it's the most painful thing!"


Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.


Furry friend: Chung brings her Chihuahua, Iggy, along whenever she can. "He's our little guard dog," she says. He's usually camped out in the closet, underneath the costumes—unless, of course, he sees a tutu. "Anytime there's one on the ground, he'll just go and chill there."


Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Must-have items: "I have sensitive skin, so I love things that are all-natural and often buy them based on the smell," says Chung. She particularly likes Aesop face products and Nancy Boy signature body spray. "It smells like I've been to the spa—if I have a long day I'm constantly spraying it."


Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Mirror decor: Chung lines her mirror with various "merde" cards from co-workers and friends, as well as a photo of her and her husband. (The skull card is from choreographer Liam Scarlett, given to her before the premiere of his Frankenstein.)


Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Pre-performance routine: Chung likes to get to the theater two and a half hours early, and does much of her makeup before class for matinees. "I don't necessarily need all that time, but it helps get me in the mood. That's more important to me now, to focus on what I'm going to perform."


Chung keeps several pairs if eyelashes handy in a blue plastic eyelash case from Daiso. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Pre-show music: Lately she's been getting ready in silence. "I've just enjoyed being in the mode—I've been stripping more away from my routine."


Chung's dog, Iggy, enjoys hanging out on her tutus. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Post-performance routine: "Unfortunately for my husband, I like to sit there for 20 minutes," says Chung. "Then I realize how long I've been sitting there, quickly shower and get out." She uses Aesop's Remove oil to take her makeup off. "You just wet your face and massage it in until everything comes off. After so many shows, my face starts to get raw, so this is good for the skin."

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks