Whitney Ingram

Revisiting Julie Kent's Dance Bag, 20 Years Later

Julie Kent was our very first Show & Tell when Pointe magazine launched in spring of 2000. Then a principal with American Ballet Theatre, Kent carried a second bag entirely dedicated to her pointe shoes. Twenty years later, she is now the artistic director of The Washington Ballet, and no longer needs to tote her pointe shoes. "For 40 years they were like a part of my body," says Kent. "And now they're not part of the landscape until my daughter's old enough to go on pointe." Nevertheless, Kent's current role keeps her in the studio. She always carries practice clothes and ballet slippers for teaching and rehearsals.


The contents of Julie Kent's dance bag, laid out geometrically on a dance studio floor

Whitney Ingram

Kent's dance bag is a reflection of the way she balances her professional and personal lives. Notebooks and sample TWB merchandise brush up against her daughter's ballet slippers and a program from her son's recent Episcopal confirmation. "I'm not only no longer a professional performer, but I'm a mother of two people that are old enough to have very busy lives," says Kent. "And I have the responsibility of a huge organization. That expands the spectrum of things that are in your bag!"

The Goods

Julia Kent in a red sweater, jeans and tiger print boots poses in a dance studio behind the contents of her bag. Photo is taken from above.

Whitney Ingram

Clockwise from top left: Reading glasses, wallet, iPhone, Tod's makeup bag, sunglasses and case, Tod's bag ("This was a gift from Anya Cole, the founder of Hania New York. She's like my fairy godmother, and I've been her brand ambassador for years"), Aquaphor lotion, Nutcracker badge for backstage access, choreographic notebook, Degas exhibit papers ("The National Gallery recently opened a big exhibit on Degas, and I recorded part of the oral description for the listening devices"), Nutcracker playbill, reading glasses, good-luck charms ("Friedemann Vogel from the Stuttgart Ballet gave me the four-leaf clover before I won the Benois de la Danse in 2000, and I've carried it with me ever since"), business-card holder, Sansha ballet slippers, Japanese fan, 10-year-old daughter Josephine's Capezio ballet slippers, perfume, legwarmers ("TWB dancer Brittany Stone knit me these. She knows I like ballerina pink"), gold necklaces ("Marcelo Gomes gave these to me for my farewell at ABT. They have my children's initials, and I wear them all the time"), pocket mirror, TWB sample scarf, waste bags for dog Winky, wrap skirt ("Gemma Bond made that for me many years ago").

Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks