Inside Ryoko Tanaka’s Dance Bag

December 7, 2023

American Repertory Ballet dancer Ryoko Tanaka’s dance bag—a waterproof backpack by Rains—holds a cherished item: legwarmers from her former high-school teacher in Japan. Tanaka was in a program that allowed her to miss academic classes to study ballet. “She always knew that if I was gone from a class, I was in rehearsals or a ballet class,” Tanaka says of her former instructor. The warmers were a graduation gift. “That was when I was 18, so it’s been almost 10 years.”

  • Ryoko Tanaka's dance-bag items.
  • A shot of Ryoko Tanaka's calves and feet. She is standing with her left leg crossed over her right. She is wearing a mauve skirt, pink tights, striped legwarmers in three shades of purple, and pink pointe shoes.

The Goods

Pointe shoes: Tanaka wears Freed of London Classic Pro. “I usually keep three to six pairs in my bag,” she says. “I alternate them depending on what kind of rehearsal I have. Whenever I have to jump a lot, I wear softer shoes. If I have to be on pointe a lot, I wear newer shoes.” Tanaka’s toe pads are by Chacott.

Body care: “I have a TheraBand to warm up my toes, arms, and back,” Tanaka says. “I also have a foot roller and lacrosse ball to roll out my calves and around my neck. I have a foam roller, as well.”

A profile shot of Ryoko Tanaka smiling over her right shoulder at the camera. She is wearing a purple leotard and mauve skirt with a black backpack.
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.

Extra clothes: “To keep myself warm, I have rompers or pants, and a leotard if I need to change.”

Daily fuel: “I usually carry nuts, but I also love ginger candy,” she says. “I heard that ginger is a pain-relief food.” Tanaka also keeps Liquid I.V. hydration powder on hand.

A bag of ginger candy. The package is lavender, yellow, and black.
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.

Water bottle: “I don’t like putting ice in my water, but water from the fountain is the perfect temperature for me,” Tanaka says. The bottle keeps liquids at her ideal temperature all day. “It has some stickers that I get with my friends or wherever I visit during layoffs,” Tanaka says, describing the container’s exterior.