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Dancers are famously resourceful and particular when it comes to the products that they keep around to get them through the day. And we all know where those items live: the dance bag. While most dance bags are filled with basics like leotards, pointe shoes, Therabands and granola bars, we rounded up some of the quirkier items that dancers carry with them to provide comfort, inspiration and organization.

These snippets come from longer stories on the contents of each ballerina's dance bag—click on each dancer's name for more.


Howard with Christopher Gerty in Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments," Photo by Edwin Luk, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

Tanya Howard

This National Ballet of Canada first soloist keeps a hand-carved wooden ballerina with her that her husband made in his high school woodworking class. After they married, Howard added her own little touch—a little rhinestone stuck onto the figurine's finger to mimic a ring. "They had to pick characters out of a book, and he chose the ballerina," she says. "It was so serendipitous! When I see this, I think about how that was years before we even met."

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Howard with Christopher Gerty in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, Photo by Edwin Luk, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

Tanya Howard's dance bag is full of sentiments from home. The National Ballet of Canada first soloist's tote, for one thing, is actually a reusable grocery bag from her native South Africa. "I got it when I went home for the 2010 FIFA World Cup," she says. "They made these for the event."

Then there's the shrug that her mother knitted for her years ago. "I always, always have it in my bag just before a show," she says. "It doesn't interfere with my costume." And it doesn't take long to realize that Howard is a mother herself. Her small carry-all holds a photo of her two young children (Lia, 6, and Benjamin, almost 3), while her water bottle is covered in sparkly stickers and rhinestones. "My daughter is learning how to label things at school," says Howard. "She said, 'Mom, how are people going to know it's your bottle if you lose it?' So she made mine pretty unique."

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