Isabella Boylston

Quinn Wharton

Inside ABT Principal Isabella Boylston’s Dance Bag

Though Isabella Boylston meticulously keeps to-do lists and writes down her commitments in her well-loved planner, her dance bag is far less organized. "I'm pretty haphazard with my stuff," says the American Ballet Theatre principal. "I leave things behind in the studio after every rehearsal." Nevertheless, the contents of Boylston's bag show off her colorful, sophisticated style. Her collection of lipsticks in different shades lives next to her threadbare warm-ups and skirts. "I just love vintage knitwear," she says. "I get a lot of my ballet gear out of the giveaway pile."


A self-described bookworm, Boylston usually carries two to three books, on the off chance she has a free moment to read in the midst of her busy days. "My favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi," she says. "But right now I'm reading The Body Keeps the Score, about the mind–body connection and healing after trauma, which is fascinating."

Contents of Boylston's dance bag laid out in a square format on a grey studio floor.

Quinn Wharton

"I like to carry my Leica film camera. I go through phases where I'll take a lot of pictures of my colleagues backstage."

"I'm always cycling through various brands of natural deodorant. Recently I've been using Native."

"I like backpacks because you can just fit more, and you don't wind up tilting over on one side."

"This skirt is handmade from Designed by Alice. I just love colorful things!"

Boylston customizes her Bloch European Balance pointe shoes with an unusual trick: "I use one elastic ribbon and one normal ribbon on each shoe," she says. "I find it gives the perfect amount of elasticity."

'80s throwback: "I love scrunchies, much to the chagrin of my friends," says Boylston.

"I carry portable speakers for when I'm rehearsing on my own."

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
Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Promotes Katlyn Addison and Hadriel Diniz to Principal; 8 Others Say Farewell

Last week, Ballet West announced that first soloists Katlyn Addison and Hadriel Diniz have been promoted to principal artist. The news marks a historic moment for the company.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Eighteen-year-old Sarah Patterson (foreground), with her classmates at New Ballet School. She's decided to stay home this summer to take advantage of outdoor, in-person classes. Courtesy New Ballet School.

Why Planning Summer Study This Year Is More Complicated Than Ever

When it comes to navigating summer intensives, 2021 may be more complicated for ballet students than last year. On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic's spring spike in 2020, summer programs went all-virtual or had very limited capacity. This year is more of a mixed bag, with regulations and restrictions varying widely across state and county lines and changing week by week.

Between vaccines and variants, can students aim for a full calendar of intensive training at local and national summer programs?

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks