Inside Catherine Hurlin’s Dance Bag

June 24, 2024

American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Catherine Hurlin keeps her essentials in a bag that shows off her personality: a Harry Potter backpack purchased from the gift shop at Harry Potter: The Exhibition, located down the street from ABT’s rehearsal studios. “I’m a proud Hufflepuff,” she says. She’s a fan of both the books and movies. “Prisoner of Azkaban is the one I go for most, but I also really like The Deathly Hallows.”

Despite its branding, Hurlin compares her dance bag to one carried by a different character. “It’s like a Mary Poppins bag,” she says. “It literally holds so much, and I don’t know how it does.” The backpack unzips on three sides for easy access and has a pocket on the front for smaller items.

With a performance schedule that takes her from New York to California and back again, and repertoire this season that varies from Romeo and Juliet to Woolf Works, Hurlin relies on her bag to keep her organized. “Everything has a place, but it’s not like it’s neatly folded,” she says.

Catherine Hurlin, a dancer with long red hair, climbs a flight of stairs wearing a Hufflepuff backpack. She looks over her right shoulder and smiles.
Photo by Kyle Froman.

The Goods

Pointe shoes: “As of now, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Blochs and Freeds,” says Hurlin. “For more classical dances, when I have to be very pulled-up, I wear Blochs because they help me do that. Then when I do more contemporary work or things where I have to be more grounded, I wear my Freeds because they’re almost like butter.”

Sewing kit: “I’m a very strange elastics person who only uses one loop,” says Hurlin. “I started doing this when ABT did Alexei Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty. We had a quick change from no pointe shoes to pointe shoes, so I had to figure out a way to make it really fast. Then it just felt better on my Achilles and didn’t suffocate my foot.”

Jet Glue: Hurlin glues her Blochs after a few wears and her Freeds as part of the shoe-prep process. “They die completely if I wear them without it.”

Hurlin's ballet shoes and other dance bag items sit on the gray carpet.
Photo by Kyle Froman.

Fashion favorites: “I love wearing Uniqlo turtlenecks,” Hurlin says. “I have one in every color and three in black. They’re really light material, and I feel like a ballerina when I’m wearing them.” As she warms up, Hurlin also wears trash-bag pants in green, her favorite color, and a pair of Bloch booties.

Extra energy: Hurlin sometimes snacks on ProBar Bolt energy chews between class and rehearsals. “They’re strawberry-flavored, and have electrolytes and B vitamins,” she says.

Theragun: Hurlin carries a Theragun Mini that is small enough to fit in her dance bag. “A sponsor had ABT’s logo printed on it and gave them as gifts.”

Hurlin’s Hufflepuff bag and Theragun Mini. Photo by Kyle Froman.

Voltaren and Tiger Balm: “This has become one of those regimens or superstitions that, if I don’t do it, my day will be ruined or something,” says Hurlin. She uses Tiger Balm on her calves and ankles while warming up, and Voltaren on her Achilles. “I had an inflamed Achilles last year, and I used Voltaren so I wouldn’t have to take Advil all day, every day. That actually helped a lot.”

Foam roller: “In the morning, I roll out and do a couple of exercises, and then it’s pretty much time to start class,” Hurlin says. “I’m a quiet, get-in-the-zone kind of person [as I warm up], but there are also a lot of ABT dogs to interact with!”