Did you know that folklorico dancers are musicians?
It's true! We use our bodies as intruments! And like all muicians, we need to always be ready with the tools necessary to play our instruments correctly. For example, a violinist always brings his bow, rossin to put on his bow, a shoulder rest, extra strings in case one of them breaks, and a music stand if necessary. Without one of these items, a violinist cannot rehearse or perform correctly.
The same goes for dancers...
You should arrive to dance class with more than just your folklorico shoes in one hand. Being prepared for rehearsal is absolutely necessary if you plan on dancing at the professional level. Professional dancers are always prepared for the unexpected!
In the 20 years that I've been dancing I have learned that responsibility is what makes you a true professional, especially when touring and dancing at the elite level. When it comes to show biz, you never know what's going to happen and you can always count on last minute changes. YOU MUST ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
So, below I have listed the "20 Fundemental Things You Must Always Have in Your Folklorico Bag."
#1 Dance Shoes
Shoes are a must, but when I am talking about dance shoes I am not only talking about packing your folklorico shoes. You have to be prepared with several types of dance shoes. I ask my dancers to carry jazz shoes, character shoes (with a heel), folklorico shoes and tennis shoes. At rehearsal we usually warm up with our jazz shoes and do conditioning with our tennis shoes. You should always carry character shoes with a heel in the case that hard shoes are not allowed on the surface where you will be rehearsing and/or performing. There are so many venues that don't allow folklorico shoes, so make sure not to forget your handy character shoes. TIP: Ladies, always rehearse with "zapatilla" folklorico shoes, not boots. I am sure you must be asking why. Well, boots don't allow the freedom to do the proper ankle movement necessary to do most folklorico steps. You want to make sure that your ankles are always able to rotate and move freely.
#2 Extra tights and leotard (women) or dance belt and shirt (Men)
Dancers should always carry extra practice clothes. Folklorico dancers are DANCERS and should wear dance clothes. Your dance clothes should always be fitted, not only so that you are able to move freely, but also so that your dance instructor can see all of your movements and body positioning easily. My female dancers are required to wear a leotard at all rehearsals as well as tights or leggings under or over their leotard. I also allow dance shorts if they are fitted and tights are worn under the shorts (that way we avoid "nachas" from creeping out). Male dancers should always wear fitted dance clothes as well. They should wear dance pants with a dance belt under and a sweat absorbent shirt. TIP: Men, avoid wearing basketball shorts and sweats to practice. When the groin area of your pants is too long (especially when you sag), you cannot spread your legs or lunge properly.
#3 Hairbrush, comb, elastic ties, bobby pins and hairspray
You should arrive to class with you hair combed or early enough to pull it back before class. Never forget to bring extra hair supplies! You never know if your elastic tie is going to rip or if a producer or important guest will make a surprise appearance at rehearsal. Your hair needs to be neat and away from your face in a bun. Why bun? When you don't wear your hair in a bun you often hit your partner in the face with you ponytail or braid. Ouch!
A towel is crucial. You need to take a towel to rehearsal to wipe the sweat off your face and/or other surfaces. You don't want other dancers to slip on your sweat.
#5 Deordorant and Perfume
No one likes a performer who stinks up the studio!
#6 Antiseptic Wipes
Antiseptic wipes come in handy when it comes to cleaning a minor cut or scrape. You can also use them to clean your hands after doing floor workouts and dance routines that require you to touch the floor with your hands.
#7 Antibiotic Ointment
To prevent infection, you should apply immediately after cleaning a cut, scrape or tear of your skin.
Make sure you carry Band-Aids in case you cut yourself of get blisters on your feet.
#9 Breath Mints
Always pop in a breath mint before dancing with your folklorico partner! You don't want to be the dancer with bad breath.
#10 Plastic Shaver
Both men and women should always carry a razor or plastic shaver in their bag. You may need to do some last minute touch ups before a rehearsal or a performance.
#11 Make-up Bag
Ladies, always carry your make-up bag. You don't want to scare the other dancers away! No, I'm just kidding, but you should always try to look nice at rehearsal just in the case unexpected producers or guests walk in to scope you out.
#12 Plastic Water Bottle
You should always stay hydrated during rehearsal and performances so don't forget your H20.
#13 Protein Bar
Sometimes rehearsals can go on for 3 to 4 hours especially when you are preparing for a big performance. Make sure you always carry a protein bar in case you skip a meal.
#14 Plastic Bag
You should carry a plastic bag so that you have somewhere to put your sweaty clothes after rehearsal.
#15 Notebook and Pen
You never know when you'll need to record an important piece of information. A performance date, new choreography, name of a song, etc.
#16 Rebozo (Women) and Bamba Bow (Men)
Ladies, I think it's very important to have a rebozo in your bag. The more you rehearse with your rebozo on, the better you will handle it when you perform. Gentlemen, La Bamba is a dance that everyone should learn and eventually know, just like La Negra. I require my male dancers to carry their bow with them at all time in case we decide to give La Bamba a review or in the case our clients request it spontaneously.
#17 Safety Pins
You never know when you're going to need safety pins during rehearsal or a performance. Safety pins can help you fix wardrobe malfunctions and plenty of other things.
Make sure to always ask your directors for the music. You should use your iPod to rehearse at home and carry it to practice in the case that someone else forgets theirs. You should also take it to performances to rehearse your choreography before. Be prepared just in case something goes wrong with the music that is to be played on stage.
You will need a fan to rehearse regions that require a fan, and you may also need if your dance studio gets really warm.
You should always have your folklorico practice with you at rehearsal and performances. Men, if you ever want to be a folklorico dance instructor, you should make yourself a practice skirt too. Everyone should be familiar with proper skirt work.
There you go dancers! I hope that this list of necessary items comes in handy. Don't forget to leave you comments and share this blog post with your friends.
If you haven't already done so, check out our previous blog post, "The 8 Best Weight Loss Tips For Serious Dancers."
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