When I was a dancing professional, it did not matter where I was performing; how big, how small, or how prestigious the production, I always followed a sacred routine. This dance makeup ritual would transform me inside and out, from studio dancer to performer, from caterpillar to butterfly. I would always try to get to the theatre at least 20-30 minutes before our call time; when the dressing room was empty, quiet, and peaceful. Settling down at my dressing table, I would get right to organizing my dance makeup and brushes. Taking the waistband that I had cut out of a pair of tights, which I use to hold back my pixie cut hair, I begin. I had full view of the canvas I was going to be working on. It is a typical “girl next door” face. Without performance makeup, I would say I could be considered “cute”. With performance makeup, I was a bolder, stronger, fiercer version of myself! Jessica, to the 10th power!
For years, I have done my best to prepare my body physically for performance through dance class, rehearsals, and proper pre-show warm up. But I knew that was not enough for me to be the best performer I could be. Through my dance makeup ritual, I prepared myself mentally for the performance too. I not only created a more vivid and visible version of myself through the makeup, I opened myself up to be SEEN by the audience. They can see every emotion I am feeling and this is how I share my joy of dance with them.
As I applied my foundation, and saw the canvas losing its dimension, losing its bone structure, I would get excited. I knew all the best dance makeup tips! From this point on, I could create anything I wanted on this canvas! I could put the bones back on where I wanted them – change the shape of my cheekbones, shorten my forehead, narrow my nose, enlarge my lips, brighten my eyes, lift my eyebrows. The possibilities were endless! I opened my mind to the metamorphosis I was beginning and left everything else from the day slip away. All of my focus went to applying my performance makeup look.
I always start with my eyebrows, giving them a proportioned, dramatic arch. They frame my eyes – the windows to my soul! Speaking of eyes… I would make them appear more almond shaped, more dramatic, by using my eye shadows and eyeliners. Then, false lashes – professional dance makeup is not the same without false lashes! I curl my own lashes with my eyelash curler; apply my false ones, and then several coats of mascara to bind my real lashes to my false. Wow! My eyes look so much bigger, so much brighter, so open!
By this time, dancers are filing in the dressing rooms, headphones on, dropping dance bags at their spot, chatting with each other, grabbing costumes off of racks to pre-set before the show, all while talking about their day. I would smile and say hi as they passed, but stayed focused. This was my time.
And so, I move on to my cheeks and lips. I design a stronger cheekbone with blush and use the color to make my face look healthy and vibrant. I accentuate and slightly broaden my lips. The lush red lip color makes my teeth look so white. When I smile, my cheekbones will visibly rise, illuminating my eyes, and the audience will FEEL my smile even in the back of the theatre. Learning the best dance makeup tips at the beginning of my career helped turn me into a true dance professional.
I look in the mirror. I see the character I have created reflecting back at me – a grander, more stunning version of myself. I look beautiful. I feel beautiful. I am at the top of my game. It will be a great show!