The Other Red Shoes: A Survival Guide For Dancing While On Your Period

It’s just part of being a woman. But most women don’t have to deal with their period while wearing a leotard. Concentrating on your technique and performance is challenging enough without having to worry if your period is putting you in any unnecessary spotlight. Whether it’s hygiene, discomfort, or leakage that’s making you shy away from the studio every month, here are 7 tips to help navigate female territory and restore your confidence.

1. Take a beginner class.

two dancers friends practice in dance studio

It has been widely acknowledged that mild exercise actually reduces menstrual symptoms. Revisiting some of the more basic concepts in a beginner class is a better option than ducking out of class altogether. Beginner classes allow you to participate in what you love to do without leaving you winded when you’re already feeling out of sorts.

2. Avoid perfumes and feminine sprays.

Beautiful ballet dancer on white background

When you want to feel extra fresh, the solution is simple: take a bath instead of a shower before class. Harsh chemicals mess with your feminine balance, so look for a safe, gentle cleanser to get the job done. Dr. Bronner makes a great line of organic, eco-friendly soaps like peppermint and lemongrass.

3. Prep your dance bag.

Tampons. Women tampons for menstruation. Gynecological swabs. Vector.

Keep your dance bag stocked with your feminine product of choice. For lighter days, or added protection, throw some pantiliners and an extra pair of undies in for good measure. You never know if Aunt Flow will pay you a visit just as you’re preparing to plié.

4. Make sure your dancewear is clean.

Low Angle View Of Ballerina Doing Barre Exercises

Used form-fitting dancewear such as tights and leotards can produce bacteria and unpleasant odors. Suiting up in clean dance wear during that time of the month will increase your confidence.

5. Wear underwear.

Ballet Side Stretch

It’s very common and practical for dancers to go commando in class (less bulk and bunching). When you’re on your period, however, wearing underwear underneath your leotard or dance pants is helpful. Don’t care for pads or tampons? Believe it or not, a team of enterprising goddesses are revolutionizing the way we handle our periods by creating an actual “period panty?”; a pair of underwear that completely absorbs your flow and can be thrown in the wash. Respect, ladies. Check it out here:

6. Black can be your best friend.

Low section of female ballet dancer relaxing on wooden floor

To make a statement, Kiran Gandhi famously ran the 2015 London Marathon while on her period and without the use of feminine protection. Needless to say, her flow was on display for all. Hey, to each her own. If you would prefer to minimize the chances of discoloring your dancewear, you may opt to wear a black leotard/bottoms that day.

7. Pop a Midol, or at least a mint.

Ballerina Resting

Your period can literally cramp your style before class. Sticking to a healthy fitness routine in the days leading up to your period can make the transition more tolerable, however, if you still suffer from cramps and other discomfort, consider taking an OTC for pain management. Prefer a more holistic approach? Mint and ginger lozenges are popular alternatives to soothe the stomach. But definitely lay off the caffeine and drink plenty of water.

There has been much feminist debate over how to handle our bodies, including this defining characteristic. Adult women venturing into the ballet world are presented with enough challenges. Discouragement or embarrassment over something so synonymous with womanhood shouldn’t be one more thing holding you back from realizing your potential in the studio.




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