Inside Harper Watters’ Dance Bag

November 21, 2022

Dancer. Activist. Style maverick. Digital creator. Houston Ballet member Harper Watters is all of the above. He made history as the company’s first Black, queer first soloist in 2021, and his rise has only continued. Naturally, his dance bag reflects his values—and supports his on-the-go lifestyle.

“My dance bag is a Telfar bag,” he says, referring to the Black-owned fashion brand by the queer Liberian American designer Telfar Clemens. “It was something that I was really proud to own, and to support what the brand itself and the designer represent. It’s nice to carry that wherever I go, and whenever I enter the studio.”

Watters’ signature heels are reserved for weekends, when he creates content for his social media channels. “On Saturdays, there’ll be a tripod, heels, a costume and my computer in my dance bag, because I like to film and edit in one sitting,” he says.

Harper Watters' dance bag items, as described in the text
Photo by Crystal Charlemagne

The Goods

Phone: “It’s like my heartbeat. I consider my phone a tool for exploration, inspiration and discovery. I like to emphasize the message that how you use it and what you share with it can be unique.”

Water bottle: “It was given to me by my friend Natalie, who’s a demi-soloist in the company. I had to decorate it. It has Beyoncé stickers all over it. So there’s never a point where I lose my water bottle, because if I leave it in the studio, it’s incredibly identifiable that it’s mine.”

Snacks: “I like to always keep a protein bar or some sort of snack, like granola, in there.”

Advil: “That’s like a lifeline for us dancers.”

Shoes: “The Capezio Hanami flesh-toned shoes are my go-to. They’re pre-sewn, which is a savior for any male dancer, because we cannot sew for anything. And then [I’ll have] jazz shoes or a pair of black shoes, depending on our rep.”

Harper Watters, wearing a sky-blue unitard and flesh-toned technique shoes, stands at the barre, taking a selfie on his phone. He is surrounded by items from his dance bag.
Photo by Crystal Charlemagne

Sweatshirt: “I have my favorite, which is by IVY PARK. When Beyoncé was doing her Formation world tour, I attended [a concert] as one of the brand ambassadors. However, I’m fully manifesting performing with her for the future.”

Socks: “I wear socks for barre, usually a pair of white socks.”

Book: “I’ve been trying to read more and lower my phone time, which is difficult because I love TikTok. Right now, I’m reading B-Boy Blues, by James Earl Hardy.”

Extra T-shirt: “I carry one in case I get too sweaty from rehearsal.”

Dance clothing: “I have a waist belt. Shout-out to Jovani Furlan, principal at New York City Ballet, because it’s from his dancewear line. I try supporting dancers’ businesses. I have some RubiaWear [by former Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis] as well that is super-cozy.”

AirPods: “For when I want to tune some people out or just listen to music.”

Memento: “I have a T-shirt that a fan gave me. When I had my YouTube series called ‘The Pre Show,’ she took a picture of the five of us and put it on a T-shirt. All of those dancers who were in the show have moved on to different companies and careers now. But it was such a fun and special time, and a formative time for me in finding my voice and footing here in this company and in life. So there will be days where I bring that shirt in.”