When you’re a dance-obsessed tween or teen, there’s little you relish more than new gear. Roughly 20 years since leaving home, I can still imagine my beloved local dance retail spot—Village Dance Shoppe in Wayne, Pennsylvania—down to the smell. I loved rummaging through racks and sifting through leotards and skirts, figuring out how to stretch my gift-card budget as far as possible. One holiday season, I even marked up the Discount Dance catalogue, circling items and writing down the SKUs, colors and size options so Santa didn’t have to do any guessing.
Of course, dance attire may not excite every dancer. Shoes need to be fitted properly and many studios have strict uniform rules, leaving few options for apparel gifting. So what else might your favorite dancer covet this year? Here are over a dozen holiday gift ideas at a range of price points.
Stocking Stuffers for Every Dancer
When was the last time you purchased new face masks? Could be time for an upgrade! Splurge on a three-pack for $34 from Lululemon, or stick with Bloch’s tried-and-true dancer version for $6.50 each.
Especially during this holiday season, Nutcracker green rooms are like the Bermuda Triangle for water bottles—where do they end up? To help keep your dancer healthy and hydrated all winter long, pick this Takeya Activities version, which was named the most versatile water bottle on The New York Times’ Wirecutter list of best water bets for 2021, or this version from Thermos, which is lauded as a top lightweight pick—easy for your dancer to carry in her bag.
And if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box ballet gift, check out famed dance teacher Kathryn Sullivan’s Ballet Glider ($15). This ingenious yet simple invention limits skin-to-barre contact. Dancers can stretch with greater ease along the barre as the plush, machine-washable fleece just slides along. This new and practical accessory also encourages dancers to keep a light hold on the barre instead of gripping onto it for balance. By moving smoothly with the dancer, it allows for a proper placement of the hands after a turn, for example, which helps to develop a strong and stable core.
Dance Gear for Dancers On the Go
Have you smelled your dancer’s bag lately? If you did, you’ll know it’s time for a refresh. Cloud & Victory’s “Emotional Baggage” dance bag ($95) follows the brand’s signature cheeky style, and dancers can pack a lot, thanks to its 19″x10″x9″ specs. If you’re looking out for a backpack style instead, Gaynor Minden’s Mini Studio Bag ($44) is great for dancers who pack a little lighter—still, it’s 9.5″x4.5″x12.5″, leaving plenty of room for class essentials. Freed also makes a simple tote ($16) that will never go out of style, whether your dancer is schlepping shoes or produce.
If you’re tired of holding the camera for endless TikToks and Reels lately, it’s high time you consider Pivo. This cool tech sets up like a tripod, yet its auto-capture tracking feature follows the motion seamlessly. A Silver pack that includes a tripod, two mounts, a remote control and a USB charger runs about $164, but let it do double-duty as a hands-free video calling system that the grandparents will love too.
Yoga mats also make a great gift for dancers who love to foam-roll or stretch out their muscles, and many mats run the gamut in terms of thickness, material and intended use. Yoloha’s Aura cushioned mat ($79) is easy on the joints, and the Nomad mat ($99) is made for practice on the go. Not sure which of the company’s cork-made mats is the right fit? Take advantage of this free sampling system to let your burgeoning yogi test out a few options before committing to just one.
Dance Gear for the Home
Even if your child is back in the dance studio full-time, it’s great to have a designated space for at-home stretching, technique fine-tuning or just plain old fun. In other words, get your dancer off the kitchen linoleum! For students who can never stop dancing, set up a home studio with help from Harlequin. A 78″x39″ portable mat and freestanding four-foot barre are bundled for $295.
Teens can also augment their studio training with beginner to advanced classes from in-demand choreographers and dancers. Subscription-based programs from companies including CLI Studios and Steezy let students explore new styles and master choreography through thousands of on-demand videos. Steezy’s platform (annual membership $100) makes it easy to switch views, change tempos and play sections of choreography on repeat—and CLI Studios ($199 per year) even offers weekly live classes through Zoom.
Plus, Dance Media Live! has partnered with New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck to offer a series of hour-long master classes. Single classes are $150, but bundles are offered at a discounted rate. There are only three classes remaining: January’s lesson focuses on musicality and speed (01/08); February’s class focuses on injury prevention (02/05); and in April, Peck will teach a variation by William Forsythe (04/10). Classes are offered through Zoom, so Peck can offer individual corrections to (starstruck) dancers and answer all their burning questions after each session. Sign up today!
Gifts for the Fashion-Forward Dancer
If you can’t resist apparel, consider dancewear brands created by professional dancers. Give your bunhead a Chameleon leotard designed by American Ballet Theatre star April Giangeruso. (How cute are these holiday-themed prints starting $60?) Former Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Abigail Mentzer has also created a line of ballet skirts ($30), endorsed by other pros like Ashley Bouder, Lauren Fadeley Veyette, Catherine Hurlin and India Bradley. And Miami City Ballet’s Julia Cinquemani (previously with Los Angeles Ballet) created Jule Dancewear in 2011—quality apparel that she says “offers support and conforms to all body types,” filling a need for leotards that “offer coverage and support for dancers with curves.”
Of course, you can never go wrong with a gift card to your local dance retailer, where your dancer can choose and try on apparel, or get professionally fitted for shoes, which is a must for comfort and safety.
Happy shopping and happy holidays!