Ballet Stars

Inside New York City Ballet Principal Lauren Lovette’s Dance Bag

Lauren Lovette. Quinn Wharton.

New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette tries hard to focus on wellness despite her busy schedule. Her Hydro Flask water bottle—a gift from colleague Indiana Woodward—is emblazoned with the words "Be Here Now," a daily reminder to stay present. Lovette also keeps two doTERRA essential oils in her bag, and starts each day with Citrus Bliss. "I put it on my wrist at barre, and smell it," she says. "It just keeps me in a positive mood." Another scent, Balance, is reserved for days when she's feeling particularly frazzled.


Lovette is also a master of hacks. She cuts the tops off old pairs of tights to create belts, and sewed a pair of socks into the inside of her legwarmers. "I like the extra heat on my calves," she says. When the company's not in season, Lovette sews her pointe shoes with colored thread, "just for fun." And her dance bag usually includes DIY snacks. Lovette regularly makes cowboy cookies, a favorite family recipe she's tweaked to be vegan.

The Goods

The contents of Lauren Lovette's emptied backpack and duffle back are laid out on the floor of a dance studio.

Quinn Wharton

Clockwise from left: Hot Stuff Instant Glue, Puma duffel, Old Spice Sweat Defense deodorant ("This is the best; it actually lasts all day"), Salonpas gel, Maybelline makeup, crochet thread, custom Freed pointe shoes ("I grew up paying for my own shoes, so I try to make them last"), rehearsal sneakers ("These are specially designed for Justin Peck's The Times Are Racing"), doTERRA essential oils, PerfectFit Pointe Shoe Inserts ("I love them! I was one of their first trials"), backpack ("It's meant to be a diaper bag, so it has lots of compartments"), thermos, Hydro Flask water bottle, practice tutu ("This is an old NYCB tutu. Some people think it's from Coppélia"), legwarmers, wrap skirt ("Someone in the Royal Danish Ballet made this for me when I was there doing Stars and Stripes last year"), Bang & Olufsen headphones, perfume, Tiger Balm, gum, Claritin, Trigger Point massage balls ("I like to use them on my back"), headband, nuts, scissors, Unreal chocolate, Tylenol, Band-Aids, belts, cookies, ballet slippers ("These are from a photo shoot that needed white shoes. I always do barre in socks").

Ballet Stars

For many a bunhead, "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is not just a holiday tradition, but a rite of passage. The variation, with its tinkling celesta, bourrées and petit battus, is one that all ballet dancers are familiar with, and getting the opportunity to perform it often represents moving into new realms in your training or career. Such was the case for Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. In this 1957 clip, the 18-year-old aspirant performed the Sugar Plum variation at a ballet competition, where she represented the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Getty Images

For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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