Twenty-four-year-old NYC Ballet soloist Indiana Woodward is the traveling Sugar Plum Fairy—among other roles—for this season’s Nutcracker performances. Here, she details what she packs when she’s on the road. Read on for useful tips for staying healthy and fresh while traveling.
Indiana Woodward started dancing when she was three years old and grew up traveling back and forth between Paris, where she was born, and California, where she grew up.
“Traveling kind of feels like a home for me,” she says. “The sky was always the place where I was by myself and had all the room to just be me.”
Woodward first traveled for dance when she was 15 to take part in a scholarship program at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, and now performs and tours regularly for the NYC Ballet as a soloist. “I’ve learned to pack now, finally, without a giant suitcase and tons of things,” she says.
How do you stay healthy while you travel?
I really hate feeling swollen so that’s something that I try to avoid. It makes me feel like I can’t move, and being a dancer, when your muscles get tight you just want to scream. Both professionally dancing and traveling can have such an impact on your body, but there are ways you can help that.
I always travel with my acupressure mat. I roll around on my back on the little spikes. It makes everything circulate and de-swells. From the same company, I also carry a roller for my back. Planes are just hard on your body when you dance right after, so you have to have all these things. I also carry this muscle roller—you can roll out your calves, or any muscle. This little roller ball I actually use on the plane. When you roll out, all of the lactic acid goes out of your muscles so you don’t feel as tight and swollen. Dancers have such an intense acuteness to the feelings of our muscles and our bones. You should see us dancers at the airport, lying on the chairs just rolling everything out on sticks and balls!
I also always bring my goggles with me. There’s always water somewhere where I go and I love swimming. It’s good for your joints.
What are your favorite in-flight activities to pass the time?
Sometimes I journal, sometimes I color, so I always bring my notebooks and these really cool, double-sided colored pencils. I’m taking online classes at Fordham right now too, so I always have my laptop—just the core classes right now, European History and Faith & Critical Reasoning.
What’s your travel beauty routine?
I travel with a minimum of three bobby pins. I can get by with just three. But actually my hair is really long right now, so I can just tie it up in a knot without any pins.
I don’t usually put on a ton of makeup because we put it on so much on stage. Mascara is probably the only makeup I wear. My travel beauty routine is more about stripping down, being clean. I love these Jāsön Quick Clean make-up remover wipes—they’re fragrance free, no artificial color, or petroleum. Sometimes I’ll pack a cucumber face mask.
I love this body butter from The Fresh Market. You can get it at Whole Foods. It’s just organic olive oil, almond oil, and shea butter. It smells really good. Oh, and Tiger Balm. You just have to. For everywhere on your body.
I usually always have this Golden Milk powder. I found this blend in Whole Foods in the beauty section, and it’s turmeric, dates, and herbs. You just put it in any milk you like. Tumeric is really good for inflammation, you should be sprinkling it on anything you make basically. It’s really delicious. It’s the best thing for after being on plane. And if you take it at night, you’ll feel brand new in the morning.
What’s always in your suitcase?
As long as it’s like versatile, I pack it, because I only pack six or seven things. Sometimes I’m gone for a week, sometimes three weeks, sometimes four days, but I still pack only six things. I try to pack outfits—and always black. I always pack a romper, they’re so practical. One dress and one romper—silk is a great material to pack because it can pack super tiny. And these versatile shoes from Vagabond—their shoes are so durable, I’ve had these for almost seven years now and they’re really comfortable.
I always have my two leotards—my Ellen Ostrom, she was a dancer with NYC Ballet and her leotards are really comfortable and feel really nice. And then a more heavy duty one from Dellalo in Italy. They’re what I practice and warm up in. I wear them with leggings usually—I always travel with leggings. I love these from Sweaty Betty. They’re super soft and there are no seams, so when you’re on a plane and you swell, there won’t be imprints all over your body. This is great for if you have to perform or go on a shoot after being on plane.
I have a really great sports bra that’s actually made by my best friend, Saskia Gregson-Williams. She makes this brand called Naturally Sassy that does these funny sayings, this one says “provacacado” and I love avocados.
I pack all my ballet stuff in my favorite Goodnight Moon bag. Pointe shoes, leg warmers, sewing stuff. I have to sew my pointe shoes every day—I can do it in six minutes. My pointe shoes are Freed’s. They’re custom cut to fit your foot—mine are half shank so it’s easier to break in.
I wear a scarf at all times, too. It’s my dad’s scarf, and it’s kinda sentimental so I literally don’t leave home with it. Summer. Winter. Fall. Spring. It’s the best thing—it gets cold on airplanes and it’s nice to have something sentimental when you travel.
Do you have any travel rituals?
I always travel with my dance stuff no matter where I’m going because I often take classes at other companies. When I was younger I took a class at a South African company called PACT, but I didn’t have any of my stuff with me so I had to go buy ballet stuff. Now I know. When I’m in Paris, I’ve taken classes at Cité Varon, which does open classes like Steps in New York. I love discovering cultures and meeting new people, new dancers, and kind of like feeling a little bit out of my comfort zone. Travel breaks my routine which is really nice. I love feeling kind of spur of the moment, which I can’t always do because in New York I’m on such a schedule.