As a dancer, you use your entire body to tell a story and convey emotion to your audience. That includes your facial expressions and stage presence.
When you’re up on the stage with the bright lights shining on you and the audience so far away, it’s easy for a dancer’s face to get a bit washed out—making it easy for subtle changes and expressions to get lost.
Stage make-up is an integral part of every dancer’s costume. However, stage make-up is a bit different from everyday make-up. It’s heavier and more defined. It can feel a little overwhelming for beginners and their parents. Here is a stage-makeup guide to help you understand make-up, its application, and some essential tips to help start building your make-up kit.
The history of stage make-up.
To understand stage make-up and its importance, it’s essential to know its history. Studies show that performers sought to express themselves through drama and dance for thousands of years, and the accompanying make-up is a development of this art.
According to Love to Know, the earliest known use of theatrical make-up was by the Greek actor Thespis, who, to stand out from the Greek chorus, painted a toxic covering of white lead and mercuric sulfide to create a white and red face paint. The use of make-up for theatre appears to have become more common in the 1500s and 1600s. In the 1500s, performers in medieval religious cycle dramas utilized face paint to depict certain characters.
Stage make-up kit must-haves.
When building your stage make-up kit, there are many factors you must consider: the scenes you are in, the lighting, the costumes you will be wearing, and of course, the role you are playing!
Here are some of the top must-have items you should always keep in your kit:
1. Moisturizing serum.
It is crucial to have a clean and thoroughly moisturized face before applying stage make-up. Before starting any make-up application, using skin moisturizer will help protect your skin and help the make-up last longer.
Stage make-up can be heavy and drying, so a quality serum will help combat a cakey look. Be sure to apply it over your entire face and neck and use a colorless balm on the lips.
In addition to moisturizer, a good primer creates a smooth base for the foundation. It will ensure that the make-up remains in place for as long as possible.
Foundation is crucial to providing overall coverage that creates an even, clear base under the harsh glare of stage lights. Be sure to pick a liquid foundation that matches your skin tone or is just slightly darker.
You don’t want to go lighter because the bright lights will make it look even lighter than it is.
The world of concealer can be a little confusing. Keep these tips in mind to make it easier.
You’ll need a concealer for under your eyes and any spots that require additional coverage. But often left unsaid is the undertone or “color corrector” that goes with the concealer. Yellow undertones conceal purple shadows like dark circles under the eye; use an orange undertone corrector for darker skin.
Are pimples or acne an issue? Before concealing, use a green undertone or color corrector to eliminate redness and purple/pink undertones to reduce yellow patches. Having a small item like this in your stage make-up kit can make a massive difference in applying everything else!
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5. Contour palette.
A contour palette is vital for enhancing the facial structure and providing subtle facial definitions. Contouring is a critical part of applying stage make-up, as it ensures that the concealer and foundation don’t leave your face looking flat and one-dimensional under the lights.
6. Setting sprays and powders.
You’ll need powder to set the make-up from any “wetness” or oils. Plus, it needs to stay through hours of performing. Investing in a translucent powder will do wonders for setting the make-up, keeping it from transferring, and building additional products on top of it.
A setting spray will help take away that dry look and make everything look dewier.
7. Other tool kit essentials.
- Eye shadow palette
- Eyebrow pencil
- Eyeliner – pencil or gel
- Lip liner
- Blotting papers
- Quality application tools like brushes and sponges.
Now that you know about the must-have products for a great “starter” stage make-up kit, you can feel confident and ready for your next performance! Expanding your kit with more products can come later.
The best way to expand your kit will be by utilizing each experience. Learn from every competition practice or performance what works best for you, what you can’t live without, and what leaves you feeling… meh. When you feel confident and prepared, your ability will shine on the stage through your make-up and your talent!
Preparedness is essential to us here at EDC and something we instill in our dancers to ensure they are thriving inside the dance studio and out. So, make sure your dancer has everything they need to be safe, comfortable, and successful this upcoming dance season!