Checking It Twice: Essential Items Every Dance Major Should Pack

September 14, 2016

Packing for college is thrilling and nerve-racking at the same time. You’re finally ready to be an undergrad, but before you leave home you have to stuff your dance life into just a few suitcases. To make that process easier, Dance Spirit asked the experts to put together an insider’s list of campus must-haves for dancers.

The Experts

David Dorfman is the director of David Dorfman Dance and the artistic chair of Connecticut College’s dance department.

Amber Golden is a Wayne State University graduate and now a freelance dancer based in NYC.

Pants, long-sleeved shirts, and kneepads

“You’ll probably be introduced to postmodern techniques in college,” Dorfman says, which means lots of athletic partnering and floorwork. He advises bringing loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to protect your legs and shoulders from slides and rolls on the floor, and kneepads to keep you safe from impact.


You have an arsenal of dance shoes. But do you have the right socks? Contemporary choreography often calls for the kind of articulate footwork that can’t be achieved with bare feet or in ballet shoes. “You’ll always want extra pairs with you,” Golden says. “I carried nude and black colors to accentuate my line, depending on whether I was dancing in pants or bare-legged.”

Elastikon or Elastoplast tape, and baby powder

Forget about socks—college might be the first time you’ve kicked off your dance shoes altogether. Dorfman recommends carrying super-strong tape to prevent and care for new splits and calluses, and baby powder to help you combat a sticky floor.

Neosporin, clear medical tape, small scissors, Band-Aids, Tiger Balm, and a travel lighter

It’ll probably be inconvenient to run to the campus health center every time you sustain a minor strained muscle, popped blister or floor burn. Make sure to carry essential first-aid items with you so you don’t have to interrupt class or rehearsal. “I stored my kit in a makeup bag, to keep everything together,” Golden says.

Journal (paper or electronic)

“As a dance major, you’re often asked to journal as part of your classes,” Dorfman says. And you don’t want to be without one when inspiration strikes!

Portable and nutritious snacks

Most dance majors have a busy schedule, and sometimes rehearsals overlap with mealtimes. Make sure to fuel yourself properly by packing easily portable snacks that are available in the dining hall, like apples and granola. “Almonds and trail mix were always in my dance bag,” Golden says.

Mini tripod

You’ll undoubtedly be bringing your phone—which is your de facto camera—to college, and it’ll come in handy if you start working on your own choreography and need to film rehearsals. Dorfman’s pro tip? Bring a mini tripod to hold the camera steady.

Various massage tools

Self-care is important, especially in a stressful, hectic college environment. “If I’d had the room, I would have carried golf balls and tennis balls everywhere I went,” Golden says. “And I wish I’d had a foam roller with me!”