Inside Washington Ballet Artist Ashley Murphy-Wilson's Dance Bag

January 26, 2021

Ashley Murphy-Wilson, an artist at The Washington Ballet, is all about making things personal. Well, personalized, that is. “My best purchase ever was a label maker,” she says. “Everything I own is labeled. My phone charger is labeled. My roller is labeled. Everyone knows: If I leave something in the studio, I’m coming back for it—because my name is on it.”

The TWB dancer adds a personal touch to almost everything in her dance bag, be it with her label maker, her “signature” leopard print legwarmers or her bedazzled (yes, we said bedazzled) booties. It’s the mark of an experienced dancer; Murphy-Wilson, now in her sixth season at TWB after 13 years with Dance Theatre of Harlem, knows better than to let her belongings get lost to the dance studio “black hole” effect.

The contents of Ashley Murphy-Wilson's dance bag are laid out on a white floor. A few items are draped on a wooden stool.
Mena Brunette, XMBPhotography

The Goods

TheraBands are essential for warming up my feet and ankles,” says Murphy. “When I’m on the go, I’ll typically keep one or two—one lighter and one heavier weight—in my bag. But at home, I have literally all of them.”

Bloch booties: “I have two or three pairs on rotation right now: pink, purple and hot pink. I also like to bedazzle my booties, because a lot of people have the same ones. I always add a little personal flair, by sewing on rhinestones or some colorful patches.”

“It’s hard to get through rehearsal if I eat a big meal, so I’m basically snacking throughout the day. I really like Nature’s Bakery fig bars—our physical therapist got me hooked on them.”

“I always bring a phone charger, but not for me. I bring it for everyone else, because someone’s always looking for a phone charger. But I put my name on it, so I can make sure they always return it,” says Murphy-Wilson.

Ashley Murphy-Wilson sits amongst the contents of her dance bag. She sits with her legs pulled up in front of her, one arm on her legs and one underneath her chin. She wears a white-and-blue cap-sleeved leotard, a white ballet skirt, black-and-white leopard print legwarmers, and bright pink warm-up booties, bedazzled with rhinestones.
Mena Brunette, XMBPhotography

RubiaWear legwarmers: “I love that brand—it was created by Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis. I have these legwarmers in pink and white stripes, blue, green, yellow and, of course, my signature leopard print. I love my leopard print ones.”

“Right now, I’m trying out some new Bloch pointe shoes. I’ve been working with Bloch on some new pointe shoes that come in colors that work for darker skin, so I’m really excited about that.”

Textbooks: “I’m on the LEAP program through Saint Mary’s College of California, which has helped me earn my bachelor’s degree. I hope to go into physical therapy!”

“I have to have my AirPods, because I cannot warm up without music. I like all kinds of music, but I love to warm up to throwback hip-hop music: Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z,” she says.