Ballet Dancer Must-Haves IV

Alyson Abriel Salomon is a bay area dancer for both Labayen Dance/SF and the DanceWright Project. Here’s what she had to say about her ballet dancer must-haves:

“Sounds silly, but these two products are MUST-HAVES for me. The hairpins are incredibly strong, and you don’t need to use many, which makes it easy to go from a bun to a ponytail. They also don’t fall out and create a hazard onstage like more traditional hair pins.”

Scunci No Damage Ponytail Holders

Scunci Magic Grip hairpins

UDMA = Sugar & Bruno

Over the weekend I attended UDMA, United Dance Merchants of America. If you’re a dance instructor, I’m sure you know all about this resource fair and costume show. If your not familiar, UDMA it’s very much a dancer / instructor / shoppers dream. As you enter the double doors to the hall, the energy is high with fantastic dance music pumping over the speakers. From one end to the other, rows of vendors bring the pages of every costume catalog to life. Not only did I walk out with a lot of free swag, but I picked out costumes for all of my classes for this years dance concert


Along with a lot of useful information one of my most favorite finds was Sugar & Bruno. I’ve seen their brand in the media but, this was the first time I saw it live and could check out the quality. As someone who has spent most of my life in tights and leotards I only shop by touch…. so if it doesn’t feel comfy; I’m not buying. Sugar & Bruno did not disappoint. In fact, I found myself driving back the following day to purchase another t-shirt and some accessories. Their clothing line is trendy and inspired by some of the leading dancers and choreographers of our time. Unlike most dance shirts, I will actually wear them. Pictured below are some of my favorite finds. 

Great Dancers Racerback

Keltie Dance Phrase Bracelet – “Dance Like Everyone’s Watching”

Stacey Bird Lace Twisted V-Neck

Ballet Legs Button

Keltie Oversized Plié Tendu Relevé Tee

Like what you see? Check out their online store. CLICK HERE!

Ballet Dancers Must-Haves III

Marlowe Bassett is a member of Napoles Ballet Theater and is a notable costume designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are her ballet dancer must-haves:

“Here’s what’s in my dance bag right now!”

  • Freed Classic Pro Pointe Shoes, they are as close to special order Freed’s that you can get with out special ordering. 
  • Lambs wool toe pads with gel tip
  • Bunheads: toe gel toe spacers
  • Arnica Gel (for sore muscles & bruises)
  • Balls: which I roll my muscles out on (could use tennis balls)
  • Thumper mini pro: the most amazing electric massage tool. I don’t leave home with out it.
  • Any other massage tools like foot rollers.
  • I must have Jet Glue on hand if dancing on pointe.


Ballet Dancers Must-Haves II

In continuation of the series, Ballet Dancers Must-Haves, here’s another entry!

Soloist for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens De Montrea, Bob Deskins explains his must-have…

“I could not live without my lululemon studio 2 pants. Yes they are made for women but they are perfect for any dancer. I love they way they fit. They keep me warm but don’t hold in the sweat. They dry fast. And the crotch doesn’t rip when I really get down. They rock! I will never go back to sweats again!”

Ballet Dancers Must-Haves

I’ve been on the search trying to find what ballet dancers just can’t live without. My results were so entertaining and informative, that I’ve decided to make the ‘Ballet Dancers Must-Haves’ a continuing series. I hope you enjoy!

Recently I asked the talented Co-Artistic Director, dancer, and costumer, Graham McMonagle, of Canadian Pacific Ballet what were his ballet must-haves. Here’s what he said… 

  • (Embarrassing?) Duct-tape. I sometimes get a corn on my foot, and duct-tape takes it away. 🙂  
  • I love my leg-warmers, a big woolly pair of white ones I made years ago. There’s something that makes me happier having them on or in a heap nearby…   
  • I love worn out MStevens tights, with the feet cut out. I buy them as large a possibleand then let them wear out and look bad… then they feel good. 

And there you have it! Check back for more ‘Ballet Dancers Must-Haves’!

Custom Leotards

Leotards have come a long way in the last decade. From the fabrics to style, there’s something for every dancer. However if you’re looking for a leotard that’s got more personality, you’ve got to check out In Class Dance Shop

Before the dotcom boom, you could only get their custom made leotards by visiting their store in New York City. Now you can visit them online! Do you feel like leopard print? Polka-dots? Or maybe just your favorite color? Believe me, they’ve got it all. In fact, my favorite leotard of all time is my scull and crossbones with a crisscross back that was made them.

I hope you enjoy!


Buy This For Ballet Class, Not That!

Congratulations, you’ve signed your budding ballerina or ballerino up for class, now what? First things first, time to buy the necessary clothing and shoes. Check with your school prior to venturing off to Target, Walmart, or Sears. Many schools have a specific dress code and can recommend a dance wear store for all of your purchasing needs. Dance wear stores are experts when it comes to finding the right leotard, tights, and shoes. It may be tempting to find a cheap imitation, but there’s a lot to be said about quality when it comes to dance wear.

Every year I have students dressed in attire from a retail store. I can’t deny they are cute, but these outfits are more for play than taking class. Many of the leotards have accents that fall off, tear, or press into the body during exercises and stretches, which can hurt a child. However, the worst part of these outfits are the shoes. These silky slippers are NOT ballet slippers. They are house slippers, and they’re the biggest threat to your child. They fit loose and don’t promote proper foot use for ballet. As a teacher, I can guarantee that students who wear these shoes will slip, trip, and fall within the first fifteen minutes of class. When it all comes down to it, save your money and the tears; buy your child’s dancewear from a dancewear store!


Can’t find a local dance wear store? Try these online stores. If you have questions, there’s always a helpful representative standing by!

Leather VS. Canvas Ballet Shoes

Recently, I conducted a poll through an application on Facebook called Poll Daddy Polls. My goal was to find out what kind of ballet shoes dancers prefer, leather or canvas. With 79% percent of the votes, canvas is by far the leading choice. Leather, on the other hand, came in at a 21%.

Although leather shoes are not the popular choice, further study shows that teachers prefer beginning students to wear leather ballet shoes. Kathy Mata, Artistic Director of Kathy Mata Ballet and instructor at Alonzo King LINES Dance Center, is a trained RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) instructor. She stated that, “… we always ask the beginner to wear leather.” In addition, Mata also believes a full sole is better for beginners, “Split sole lets you get away with a lot,” she added. Liezl Austria, also an Alonzo King LINES Dance Center instructor, teaches a Vaganova inspired class. She said, “Preferably for beginner students, adults or children, I would put them in leather shoes.” Austria also commented that leather shoes challenge students to work their feet to building strength. Furthermore, Sarah Wellman, a shoe fitting specialist at San Francisco Dancewear and professional dancer, extended that canvas shoes are high sellers with adults and leather for children. “This is mostly because pretty much all canvas shoes are split-sole and therefore have to fit much tighter than a full sole slipper,” she shared.




As my research continued, I came across lists of pros and cons for both types of shoes. A funny thing happened when I started checking out these ideas. Right and left, opinions were clashing. I debunked the first idea that one is more expensive than the other. The truth is that leather and canvas shoes are about the same price, according to, only differing by a few cents. Of course there’s always a few outlier, but those shoes tended to have more bells and whistles. Secondly, there was this idea that warmer weather was better for canvas and colder for leather. Theoretically this makes since, but when it boils down to it, people just get what they like. Thirdly, I was told that leather shoes are better for wood floor and canvas for marley. Again this statistic doesn’t hold up, it’s really based on preference. Personally, I’ve used both types on both floors and never noticed a difference.

So what are the fact? Leather shoes are best for foot strengthening and beginners. Canvas shoes are best for and advanced dancers. Most dancer that I polled preferred Sansha’s canvas ballet slipper. However, just because most people like it doesn’t mean it will fit your foot the same way. I suggest going to a dance store and trying different brands, find what’s best for you. There’s a variety of “U” or “V” shaped shoes, split or full soled, criss-crossed or straight elastics, and some with mesh, neoprene, or a nylon/lycra mix in conjunction with the material of the shoe. Below are a variety of ballet a shoes brands and styles that are available in your local dance wear store or online. Which do you prefer?

Bloch® Girl's Dansoft Ballet Slipper

Capezio® Child Leather Cobra Ballet Slipper

Bloch® Women's “Elastosplit™ X” Leather Ballet Slipper

Sansha Girl's "Star" Ballet Slipper

Grishko® Women's Canvas "Performance Series" Split-Sole Ballet Slipper

Sansha Unisex "#1 Pro" Canvas Ballet Slipper

All shoe photos posted in this blog are from


Top 10 Must Haves For Spring

Time to pack away all those winter dance clothes. Brighten up your spring with these fresh looks.
For The Ladies

1. Fine Knit Ballet sweater by kddance

2. Fun Polkadot Leotard by Class In Dance Shop
3. Bright Lightweight Leggings from Discount Dancewear
4. Halter Romper by American Apparel
5. Slipless Head Band by Lululemon
For The Gentlemen
1. Breathable Anti-Stink Shirt by Lululemon

2. The Ultimate Pant by Lululemon

3. Sleeveless Zip Hoody by American Apparel
4. Rugby Striped Knee Socks by American Apparel
5. Easy-To-Shlep Duffle by Gap