By Michele Tobias
PTDT dancers are no strangers to props. We regularly use items like stools, chairs, or boxes in choreography. Stretch bags made their way into choreography for both Davis Dance Project and Living Under the Influence this year after a long hiatus. What is a stretch bag? It’s like a human-sized pillow case made of stretchy nylon and spandex. They have an opening either in the side or top/bottom of the bag. On stage, we can make intriguing shapes that don’t look at all like the human body.
But what’s it like inside?
It might look like a lot of fun, and after a while it is, but it takes some getting used to. Both Nicole and I dance in the stretch bags in Living Under the Influence, but we aren’t big fans of confined spaces. The first time I got into one, I had to try hard to keep calm. The first set we used were hard to get out of, which made it scarier. The bags we use in Living Under the Influence have an opening in the top, so we can get out easily. That makes me much happier.
You can’t see anything in there. Normally when we dance on stage, we are either dancing by ourselves so we don’t need to coordinate with anyone, or we have other dancers on stage who can be a visual cue to make sure we’re all doing the same movement. Our movements inside the bags sometimes need to be synchronized, but we can’t see each other so we have to know our choreography really well.
Moving in the stretch bag is a full body workout. The fabric provides a good deal of resistance so when you stretch out your limbs, you have to use some muscle. Core (stomach muscles) is a big part of that so you don’t hurt your back.
Making new shapes with the bags is really fun. One day in rehearsal, Nicole and I were tasked with finding new shapes and ways of moving in the bags. We had a blast trying new things and we kept cracking each other up.
Come see Living Under the Influence to see us dance in these unique props!
Michele Tobias is both a PTDT Dancer and the Vice President of the PTDT Board of Directors.