Dancers Do Halloween

Few people love dressing up as much as dancers. So it comes as no surprise that some

of our favorite performers routinely steal the spotlight on the craziest dress-up holiday of the year: Halloween. Dance Spirit gathered some favorite looks from dancey Halloweens past.

(Photo courtesy Gillian Murphy)

Isabella Boylston, American Ballet Theatre principal, as...Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s “Chandelier” music video

“I didn’t have time to buy a costume last Halloween, but someone brought an extra platinum-blond wig to the studios that day, which reminded me of the ‘Chandelier’ music video. I just threw on the wig with a leotard and went to class. It turned out to be pretty funny.”

 

(Photo courtesy Nick Lazzarini)

 

Nick Lazzarini of Shaping Sound as…Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing

“Last Halloween, the members of Shaping Sound decided to dress as, um, dead celebrities. I wore this amazing wig that just shouted Patrick Swayze, a black leather jacket and jazz shoes. I also brought a baby doll that I kept throwing into corners. Why? Because ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’! It was a big hit.”

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy Sarah Daley)

 

 

 

Sarah Daley of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as…a Newsie

“I always wanted to dance through the streets of NYC like the Newsies boys, so I put together this costume during my sophomore year of college. My dad lent me the suspenders and newsboy hat, and I carried the New York Times as a finishing touch. As a bonus, the costume was warm enough for NYC in October and easy to move in—which is good, because I definitely acted out a few scenes from the movie!”

 

 

 

Dancers of Miami City Ballet as…Cruella de Vil and the dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians

“When I found this great Cruella wig, I knew I had to use it. Then a few of my fellow MCB dancers came up with the idea to be my dalmatian pups. We each put our costumes together separately, and surprised each other right before company class on Halloween. I loved that they even painted their pointe shoes with black spots!”—MCB corps dancer Samantha Galler

Samantha Galler as Crella de Vil with dalmatians (from left) Jennifer Lauren, Ashley Knox, Leigh-Ann Esty and Nicole Stalker (photo courtesy Leigh-Ann Esty)

Pacific Northwest Ballet Professional Division students as…the cast of Toy Story

“When my class decided to dress as the characters from

Toy Story, my red hair made me Jessie the cowgirl by default. All I needed was a hat and some duct-tape designs on my shirt. At PNB, we get awards for the best Halloween costumes in different categories. We won the prize for ‘Best Group Costume’—and taking class all dressed up was so much fun!” —PNB Pro Division student Gabbi Nielsen

(Below) Gabbi Nielsen (back row, fourth from left) and PNB Pro Division first-year students (photo courtesy Gabbi Nielsen, Pacific Northwest Ballet School)

 

Dancers of Atlanta Ballet as…Olympic gymnasts

“This was right after the 2012 London Olympics, and we really wanted to re-create the ‘McKayla Maroney is not impressed’ meme that was going viral. I found these plain long-sleeved red leotards online, and we bedazzled them with gold rhinestones. Rachel Van Buskirk, who dressed as McKayla herself, has some gymnastics skills, but the rest of us thought it was safer to stick to ballet instead of flips.” —AB dancer Jackie Nash

(From left) AB's Alessa Rogers, Lisa Barrieau, Rachel Van Buskirk, Kiara Felder, Jackie Nash and Alexandre Barros (photo courtesy Atlanta Ballet)

 

(Photo courtesy Allison Holker)

 

 

Commercial stars Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Allison Holker (and daughter Weslie) as…superheroes

“For Halloween, everyone in our family chooses their own costumes—and we all just happen to love superheroes. Last year, we each picked a power. Next step: Conquering

the world!” —Allison Holker

 

 

(Photo courtesy Lauren Fadeley)

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Ballet principals Lauren Fadeley and Francis Veyette (and their pets) as…the cast of The Wizard of Oz

“I was Dorothy for Halloween in kindergarten, and I never forgot how much fun it was to wear ruby slippers. I made it a family affair by incorporating my husband, Francis, as the scarecrow; my cat, Lily, as Toto; and our dog, Emmett—whom everyone always jokes is big as a lion—as the Cowardly Lion. Of course, Emmett stole the show with his yellow feather boa mane. He even acted pretty cowardly at our Halloween party, since people scare him.” —Lauren Fadeley

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Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

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