I feel confident assuming that most dancers have the same gift wishlist for the holiday season this year.
- To dance mask-free in a dance studio with other sweaty dancers.
- To perform in a theatre with a full audience.
- To go to a dance performance with other patrons.
- To partner without wondering if your peer washed their hands for 20-seconds.
While the last wish should be the norm even in non-COVID times, I have a feeling that this year these items will remain unchecked. But for those looking for some gift-giving or getting ideas, I've created a "gifts for dancers" list! Keep reading to find ten holiday gift ideas for you or the dancer in your life!
For the Tech Lover
1. All dancers need a good pair of sweat-resistant earbuds that won't fall out even during the fiercest of head rolls. Earbuds are especially useful when taking classes at home to blast music without annoying roommates or family. Apple AirPods Pro is a well-known option, but two others deserve mentioning. The Jabra Elite 75t is known to have a great microphone, are a bit smaller than AirPods, and they come in multiple colors. Plus, the price is a bit more budget-friendly. If budget isn't an issue, check out the Klipsch T5 True Wireless Sport Earphones. While not the most well-known brand, Klipsch’s sound quality is top-notch.
2. As many dancers know, good lighting design can really help the dancer feel their feelings. Even some twinkle lights along the dance studio mirror can transform the space from a bland training location to a magical safe-space where performance blossoms. To achieve this at home, why not screw in a Philips Hue color-changing light bulb? It claims that 16 million color options are available and controllable through their smartphone app. Your at-home solo dance parties and TikTok videos will never be the same.
3. A "smart water bottle that tracks your water intake and lights up to remind you to drink"? Yeah, that's a thing, and there's an app for it, too. If you require a gift for a dancer who has difficulty staying hydrated, you're in luck. It comes in six colors, includes a motivational coach, and holds 20 ounces of water or your liquid of choice. Incredible! What will they think up next?
Body Health & Performance
4. What constitutes as "dance essentials" has undoubtedly changed. Open a dancer's bag 30 years ago, and one may find a tennis ball and maybe a theraband. Today, a rolling suitcase may be required to lug around the massage tools available. One that stands out to me is the Theragun percussive therapy device. It claims to "ease discomfort, soothe tightness and tension'' and reach up to "60% deeper into muscles than average massagers." In a time when a visit to your massage therapist may not be an option, the Theragun might be the answer to those body aches and pains. Its competitor, the Hypervolt was developed by rocket engineers. I'm sure using it will really help your dancing take off! (cue rimshot)
5. Some say that the Iliopsoas is the dancer's muscle. This bridge between your upper and lower body attaches to the spine and pelvis and is utilized in front and side leg extensions, among other movements. Keeping it strong is vital, as is releasing it when it gets a bit angry. If you've ever experienced a psoas massage, you understand that kneading this muscle is not always pleasant. Therefore, I suggest only gifting this torture device--I mean psoas release tool--that "mimics the hand and elbow making it easy to press deep into the psoas" to those who genuinely enjoy deep tissue massage.
6. Do you have a vegan or plant-based friend who is seeking animal-friendly dancewear? Launched in 2014, the French-designed South Korean brand S M K is "100% vegan and engages itself into animal protection activism." Their website states that they are inspired by the dancewear worn by New York City Ballet dancers and create their clothing out of "organic cotton, tencel®, repreve®, creora®, jurasil® and regenerated nylon (ECONYL®)." Pair with some vegan dance heels, and you're ready to go!
7. Many dancers understand that cross-training is essential to maintaining and improving one's fitness. While some states are still mandating gym closures, other people may prefer to work out at home even after gyms reopen. Thankfully, many at-home workout services require little or no equipment besides your body and some space. This holiday season, why not gift a subscription to one of the following? GROOV3 is “a community of fun, happy, energetic people who support each other and have a common goal to change the world, one eight count at a time.” Through their “fitness out-of-the-box'' approach, they offer dance workout classes online through Zoom and will get back to their in person offerings once allowed to do so. Daily Burn offers thousands of classes in barre, yoga, cardio kickboxing, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and more. Peloton doesn't only provide classes requiring their spin bike or treadmill. Their app features instructors (a few of whom are former dancers like Cody Rigsby) who teach yoga classes, weight training, and outdoor walking and running. Both Daily Burn and Peloton sometimes offer 30-day free trials (in this case a gift receipt) allowing for cancelation.
8. Of course a perfect holiday gift idea for dancers is a subscription to DancePlug! New video tutorials are added weekly in the styles of "ballet, Bollywood, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, house, jazz funk, lyrical, tap, conditioning, and theatre dance!" Viewers can choose the viewing option that works best for their learning style. Choose Back View to learn from behind the instructor or Mirrored View that mimics viewing the teacher through the mirror. Classes are available in four levels, so there's an option for everyone!
9. Your annual outing to see The Nutcracker in person may be canceled, but live dance is still happening! (Here are some creative digital options for you to view the Nutcracker safely this year.) Many companies are announcing virtual seasons allowing live dance to be viewed from the comfort of your couch. Pacific Northwest Ballet presents a Digital Season that "includes six performance events with a mix of new and archival video," including The Nutcracker. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago announced that it will present its 43rd season in a virtual format. Internationally, Canada's Dance Victoria will be presenting Grupo Corpo and Bereishit Dance Company virtually in February and April, respectively. If these don't strike your fancy, find out who your giftee enjoys watching and see if that company is offering a virtual season!
10. For the ultimate dance movie lover, you can't go wrong with this incredible 10 DVD bundle. Now you can once and for all determine whether the original Footloose or the remake is better. (spoiler - it's the original!) Also included is Save the Last Dance, Save the Last Dance 2, Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, and the never to be forgotten Flashdance. Sadly, Center Stage isn’t included so you’ll just have to reenact the final ballet scene on your own. Be sure to pre-set your motorcycle, bed, and red glitter lipstick!
While there may be something for everyone on this list, also remember that some people may just want to be with you this holiday season. While abiding by your area's protocols, consider creating a special space at home featuring take-out from a local restaurant or dining outside while supporting a small business. Rather than racking your brain for the best gifts for dancers, this may be the year when the perfect present of all is just being together with those we love.