The holidays are coming up, and if you are like many people out there, trying to find the perfect gift can be a genuine challenge. And while we don’t claim to know the ins and outs of shopping for just anyone, we do know a little something about dancers.
Here’s a list of some of the best gifts that you can get for the dancer in your life. Bear in mind that this list is in no way complete: There are literally hundreds of items out there that can serve as perfectly appropriate holiday presents. Rather, this is a quick list of some of the best gift ideas, from the crucial to the practical, to the fun accessory and all points in between to steer you the right way towards sharing your holiday spirit with your favorite dancer.
The Right Gear
Dancers have a lot of needs, and those needs often correspond to their active lifestyle full of motion and exertion. There are many products designed to improve the dancer’s lifestyle, but the lists of these products can easily overwhelm the casual shopper! So we’ve whittled our list down to three crucial items that will make any dancer’s life a little easier.
Durable Large Volume Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is so important to a dancer, and with the risk of flu, colds, and worse out there these days, sharing a hydration source is not the best option! Having a personal source of water or a premixed sports drink can be a real game-changer for an active dancer. In the age of single-use plastics and excessive waste, having a reusable, heavy-duty container that can handle a few drops and hits is very desirable. We recommend a water bottle with a capacity of no less than 24 oz, with a sturdy, easy-to-use screwable top and sipping mouth, made out of aluminum. Better yet, get insulated stainless steel to keep it cooler for even longer. ThermaFlask makes an affordable model that comes in some attractive colors but there are many options out there.
As the song goes, “Everybody hurts sometimes.” This is certainly true for active people like dancers. Having a ribbed foam roller work the tension and kinks out of your back, limbs, and feet can feel like a spa treatment after a long dance session. There are many brands and styles out there, with shifting price points so we recommend that you find something that fits your budget, has a strong core with a spiked or ribbed surface, and isn’t ridiculously large. Your dancer is going to want this to be easily portable and close by at all times.
If your dancer already has a foam roller or is looking for something more dynamic (and portable!), a massage gun is a great option. Newer to the market than foam rollers, the idea is somewhat the same: to release tension by creating pressure over the muscles and fascia in your body. With a massage gun you can get more specific, and can adjust the speed to get a deeper or lighter massage. Fair warning, if your dancer is the first in their social circle to get a massage gun, it will be a hot commodity! Dancers love using these guns before and after class to combat muscle soreness and improve mobility. Due to their recent popularity, there are more affordable options with many different styles and sizes.
And if you really want to treat your dancer, a massage is a great gift! There is a lot of usefulness to being able to massage yourself with a foam roller or massage gun, but sometimes just laying back and receiving a professional massage is just what a dancer wants. Aside from massage, there are many physical therapies and modalities to suit every dancer’s needs. From Craniosacral therapy, Bodywork, Float therapy, and more, there are many options out there for tending to and caring for a dancer’s muscles. A massage is the most popular and may be easiest to find, but it’s worth knowing that it’s not the only option! Any dancer would love the mental and physical benefits of a good massage as a gift.
A great stocking stuffer is any kind of muscle rub like tiger balm or icy-hot, or even a fun refillable ice pack for icing muscles after class. Or, a smaller fascial release tool like a spiky massage or tennis ball. Between foam rollers, massage guns, topical treatments, acupuncture mats, massage and bodywork options, the options for gifts that focus on muscle recovery are endless.
Large Tote Bag
This one is a no-brainer. Nobody likes to juggle their belongings to and from class or recital, and the task gets exponentially more annoying for the most active and busy dancers. Look for a large tote made out of water-resistant fabric that can easily fit a change of clothes, a rolled-up exercise mat, water bottle, and shoes without looking like you are carrying the kitchen sink. Make sure that the straps are long enough for the tote to hang about mid-abdomen and secured by the carrying arm if slung over the shoulder or above the ankle if held by hand. Totes are usually neutral but can be gendered by color and design if so desired. One of the most sensible gifts out there.
A dancer isn’t necessarily a clothes horse or fashionista by nature, but almost nobody likes to look like a backroom mannequin. Variety is the spice of life and accessories are a dancer’s delight; They allow a flash of color and style to compliment the ambient aesthetic flow of the perfect performance. A little goes a long way but there are some basic additions to the wardrobe that can make the costume just snap. Sizing can be tough, and specific needs like shoes are often best left to the dancer to procure. So unless you have a beginner in your family whose sizes you are confident about we recommend letting people get their own tights, leotards, and shoes. One way around this difficulty is a gift card, but that tends to take away the personal touch that makes holiday giving so special. Here are some timeless and universal dance accessories that can make the perfect gifts.
Sweats seem like an obvious answer but dancers can never have enough. Whether they’re in class or for a post-class outfit change on a cold day. From streetwear to dancewear, sweat sets have risen in popularity the last few years, and in the right dance, video make a dancer look truly stylish. They’re versatile and these days there’s no shortage of cool options. There’s a great variety too, from thick fleece in neutral tones to lightweight and neon options. This is where style meets motion and form.
Okay, we know that we said that tights and shoes can be off-limits due to unique size and usage considerations, but here’s a fun loophole. Leggings are easier to size and have a practical use that is often overlooked in favor of their timeless style: Worn correctly they can even help prevent muscle cramps. And like the previous two items, they come in a wide variety of styles and designs.
Hats, Hats, And More Hats
The topper, the chapeau, the cap. Whatever you want to call it, the hat is an essential piece of the dancer’s dressing puzzle, borne out by its enduring popularity across many genres and eras. We’re not just talking about a head warmer here, we’re talking about style. With a little customization, the right headwear can be the perfect dance accessory.
Is there a ballroom-dancing Fred Astaire in your family? A silk top hat is a pretty classy gift. How about someone who is obsessed with hip hop or street dance? A throwback ‘80’s bucket hat, classic dad hat, small black fedora, or modern flat brim might be just what the DJ ordered. Ballerinas love tiaras and you can’t go wrong with headbands or silk wrappings, which brings us to the next item.
Gifts That Inspire
Rounding out our list are a couple of very different things that share a very practical and essential purpose: They inspire. And inspiration is the hidden spark that keeps the fires burning and the engine moving through all of the ups and downs of someone’s artistic journey of dance discovery. And while you can find inspiration nearly anywhere, we’ve cast a wide net and come up with two disparate forms of inspiration that can make all the difference in your dancer’s life.
Content is king! Kidding, but for many dancers, creating and filming dances is one of the best parts about being a movement artist. While smartphones can handle just about any kind of video these days, their storage capacity, customization, and quality of video still lag behind real video cameras. There’s something really special about seeing yourself dance in high quality footage, and for the creative dancer, the sky is the limit with what you can visually create. It’s a helpful skill for dancers considering to begin or expand their professional career as it can almost double the amount of opportunities you have to create, whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it. And, there is a video camera for just about every price point. You’ll want to make sure it can capture motion well. For the most creative, or for someone who already has a regular camera, GoPros and drones can capture dance in a totally new light, and are something to consider as well!
Lighting is key in creating high quality videos, and ring lights are popular for a reason. They are an efficient and simple way to create even lighting on most videos. Just one is great for spot lighting, while two lights can provide a lot of dynamics in regards to angles and filming (but just one is enough, of course!) You can get a smaller ring light for the dancer on the go, or a bigger one on a small tripod for someone who wants to film dances in their home setup. Many have customizable color filters, which can be really helpful in the video creating and editing process.
Live Event Tickets
Being onstage is great, but sometimes you want to be the one in the crowd going crazy for the artists onstage! Besides, an important part of being an artist is being a supporter and consumer of art yourself! A great gift to inspire and excite the dancer in your life is to get them tickets to a live event like a concert, a ballet, or a company show. There’s nothing better than dancing with your friends while watching your favorite musical artist perform onstage, dreaming about going on tour with them one day! Don’t know what concert your dancer wants to see? A gift card to a ticketing website like Ticketmaster or AXS can fix that problem for you!
Art is the language of the soul, and visual arts have a way to inspire and uplift us, to create space and contemplation, like nothing else on earth. Having a nice piece of art in one’s personal dance space can be a source of pleasure and strength. Whether we are talking about a nice print of Degas’ famous Ballerina, or the five encircled figures in Matisse’s Dance, or even a full poster of a famous pop star like Shakira in the middle of doing her thing, a nice piece of visual dance art for your dancer’s jam pad is an excellent gift.
Online Dance Classes
What better form of inspiration is out there than instruction? From online dance classes to books on dance theory, to a library of dance tutorials, the gift of dance instruction is a gift that pays back monumental dividends. Consider finding the perfect learning experience for the dancer in your life. We have over 1,000 on-demand classes in every style and level taught by world-renowned choreographers. Check out our gifting page for more information on how you can give the gift of dance.