Show and Tell: Inside Sergei Polunin's Dance Bag

Photo by Kyle Froman

What’s in former Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin’s dance bag? That’s a trick question: The “bad boy of ballet” doesn’t carry one. “Never have,” he says. “I don’t like to be weighed down by anything when I’m going places—just like I don’t like anything weighing me down onstage. So I keep everything at the theater.”

Polunin makes sure his dressing room is well stocked with the skin-colored bandages he uses to cover up his tattoos for performances. (He has 11 tattoos and counting, and co-owns a London tattoo parlor.) When he’s dancing a shirtless role—like Acteon in the Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux, which he performed at the Youth America Grand Prix gala the night before this interview—it can take him “an hour or more” just to camouflage them all. Equally essential are his well-loved ankle warmers. “First, my socks and shoes never match, and they cover that up,” he says, laughing. “But I also wear them to make my feet look better. It’s what Baryshnikov used to do.”

The Goods

Energy tablets, Nurofen (painkiller), Hugo Boss cologne, bandages, ankle warmers, flat shoes, tights (“I always just take a pair from the theater when I need them”), striped shirt (“very French, that’s my style”), warm-up pants (a present from Royal Ballet principal Johan Kobborg), Kit Kat bar (“I’m a chocolate addict”), iPhone, foundation and eyeshadow, pen, Vaseline (“for when my lips get dry onstage”), toothbrush and toothpaste (“Actually, this is the first time I’ve remembered to pack them!”).

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