Inside Frances Chung's Dressing Room: Her Must-Have Items and Pre-Performance Rituals

August 13, 2017

A dancer’s dressing room is often her “home away from home.” In our August/September issue, we went backstage with three ballerinas, including San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung. Below, she shows us how she personalizes her space and walks us through her pre-performance routine.

The setup: Chung basically moves in to her theater’s dressing room once the season starts. She shares her space with three other dancers, and notes that the vintage metal vanities come down a little too low. “We hit our knees on them all the time—it’s the most painful thing!”

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Furry friend:
Chung brings her Chihuahua, Iggy, along whenever she can. “He’s our little guard dog,” she says. He’s usually camped out in the closet, underneath the costumes—unless, of course, he sees a tutu. “Anytime there’s one on the ground, he’ll just go and chill there.”

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Must-have items:
“I have sensitive skin, so I love things that are all-natural and often buy them based on the smell,” says Chung. She particularly likes Aesop face products and Nancy Boy signature body spray. “It smells like I’ve been to the spa—if I have a long day I’m constantly spraying it.”

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Mirror decor:
Chung lines her mirror with various “merde” cards from co-workers and friends, as well as a photo of her and her husband. (The skull card is from choreographer Liam Scarlett, given to her before the premiere of his Frankenstein.)

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Pre-performance routine:
Chung likes to get to the theater two and a half hours early, and does much of her makeup before class for matinees. “I don’t necessarily need all that time, but it helps get me in the mood. That’s more important to me now, to focus on what I’m going to perform.”

Chung keeps several pairs if eyelashes handy in a blue plastic eyelash case from Daiso. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Pre-show music:
Lately she’s been getting ready in silence. “I’ve just enjoyed being in the mode—I’ve been stripping more away from my routine.”

Chung’s dog, Iggy, enjoys hanging out on her tutus. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Post-performance routine:
“Unfortunately for my husband, I like to sit there for 20 minutes,” says Chung. “Then I realize how long I’ve been sitting there, quickly shower and get out.” She uses Aesop’s Remove oil to take her makeup off. “You just wet your face and massage it in until everything comes off. After so many shows, my face starts to get raw, so this is good for the skin.”