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What Ballet Dancer William Bracewell Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy Royal Opera House

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue-cleaner. We asked ballet dancer William Bracell, first soloist at the Royal Ballet (who have just launched their first athleisure range) about the lip balm, Japanese secateurs, and roll-on deodorant he can’t live without.

This stick deodorant smells amazing, it smells really energising. I don’t wear a lot of perfume or aftershave, but I don’t want to smell bad in rehearsals, so I always have this in my bag. It is quite strong, but that works for me, because in my line of work you do get quite sweaty. It also lasts a long time, too. Unlike an aerosol deodorant, you can apply a sneaky little top up during rehearsals without people noticing.

I got really into ceramics during lockdown (in fact, I even started making my own). But I like the pieces from Leach Pottery, a ceramics studio in Cornwall. I have several of their pieces, including this mug. The studio was set up by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada a hundred years ago, and I love their traditional glazes and the craftsmanship that has been passed down through generations.

As for what I drink from my wares, I’m absolutely addicted to English breakfast tea, and swear by English Clipper. I like the fact they use unbleached bags, which means they’re totally compostable. I’m quite particular about the colour of my tea — just a dash of milk for me, but the trick is to let the bag stew for a decent amount of time, at least a couple of minutes.

I find being inside most days just really gets my lips irritated and dry. I cannot tell you how many lip balms I have tried though — all the Vaselines, all the Blistex ones, Burt’s Bees. I tried tons and tons, and this is my absolute favourite. It’s got Beeswax in it, but it’s not shiny, so it doesn’t look like I’m ready for my closeup or anything like that. It’s good quality, and it’s made with natural ingredients.

The Calendula cream is my go-to daily moisturiser, I find it great at keeping the city pollution at bay, but if applied in a thicker layer it’s excellent as a pre-performance protective makeup barrier. I get this in Helios, the homeopathy shop in Covent Garden. It’s got very mild antiseptic qualities — it’s made from the plant calendula officinalis which is one of the oldest apothecary plants. It’s quite a heavy cream, but it forms an amazing barrier, and it’s good for dry or rough skin.

I got serious about my balcony garden during lockdown. And I really like Sarah Raven because she actually has a good website — not a lot of gardening sites do. Our balcony is east-facing, so we don’t get tons of light, and I was worried we might not have enough sun for things to flower. But I did a big bulk order from this retailer — the first things were snowdrops and iris reticulata — that’s a blue flower with flecks of yellow in the center. A really lovely, early-in-the-season plant, it bloomed around February. Sarah Raven sells really good narcissus too, and we grew about six or seven kinds of tulips this year. Seeing these flowers really brightens my day, and some of them, like the hermitage double, smell amazing.

Everything from Niwaki is excellent quality — not all gardening tools are created equal, after all. I recently turned 30 and asked for a few bits from here for my birthday, including a lovely spade, and a little flip-out hand saw for tree branches. These secateurs have got a really lovely weight to them, and they are so sharp, they make your life so much easier. They will last you a lifetime, and they have a lovely spring mechanism in the middle, which you can also get replaced, should it wear out. They are ‘buy once’ kind of secateurs.

I did try Airpods, but I had to return them, because they just didn’t fit in my ears properly. I would dance in them, and they’d just fall out. But these stick in my ears very well, and the charge lasts a long time. I use them a lot for rehearsals, either practicing in the studio by myself if I’m learning new choreography, or when there are a number of us working and we don’t want to disturb each other. They’re also perfect for the gym, and they stay in even when I’m doing cardio circuits.

I definitely have a couple of different joggers for my work. These are thick enough to keep on while I’m warming up at the start of the day, and they’re a good slim fit. They’ve also got plenty of stretch in them, so I can properly dance without my legs feeling restricted. I like the colour, too. Ballet is so gendered, and the colour is a step in the right direction to break away from that very binary idea where men have to play the prince, and women can play the princess.

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What Ballet Dancer William Bracewell Can’t Live Without