Portrait of a Ballerina: Important Elements of Stage Makeup

Portrait of a Ballerina: Important Elements of Stage Makeup

Ballerinas learn to create their stage image while still at school, during makeup lessons. Many of them keep the habit of putting on makeup before performance themselves even when they become prima. Everyone who has mastered the art of ballet makeup knows for sure that it must look perfect from any point of the auditorium, emphasize the best features of the dancer and at the same time add expressiveness to her image. What does the ballet beauty routine usually consist of?

No to “heavy” greasepaint and wet and shiny textures

They don’t use theatrical makeup in ballet dancers’ dressing rooms. It has the wrong texture - it is too oily, which makes it uncomfortable to move wearing it on stage during the performance.

Makeup artists occasionally use stage greasepaint on male dancers or if they need to create a visually complex image. Ballerinas usually apply decorative cosmetics.

The ideal texture for the makeup foundation is matte. Wet finish textures or glitters can be used to create individual looks. But for the most part ballerinas avoid such products in their makeup: the audience sitting in the auditorium should see the ballerina's face, not a shining mask.

The face is what matters

Contouring helps make the face more structured and expressive. In ballet makeup, this technique is actively used: makeup artists accentuate the cheekbones and jawline, create a play of lights and darks on the face. As with foundation, the main requirement for contouring products is that they stay in place. The makeup may be finished off with a bronzing powder to highlight specific areas of the face and add a natural cared-for look.

Emphasis on the eyes is a must!

It is difficult to imagine a ballerina without thick and long eyelashes. Stage makeup for ballet dancers uses false eyelashes to create a speaking glance and define the eye shape. Besides, makeup artists often do winged eyeliner from the corners of the eyes to the temples to visually elongate the eyes and create the cat eyes look. They use black eyeliner to shape both the upper and lower eyelids, often leaving some space between the eyeliner and the actual eye. This creates big open eyes that will be clearly visible to the audience even from the back rows.

Lips: well-defined and vivid

The main requirements for lips makeup in ballet performances are definition, color and durability. To achieve the desired result, makeup artists use a contour pencil and rich lipstick colors. At the same time, dark wine and brown shades are out of favor, as they add age and can make lips look smaller. The classic stage favorites are pink, peach and traditional red. It is crucial that the lipstick is transfer proof and leaves no marks on either the ballerina or her partner.

Illustrative example: makeup of opposites — Odette and Odile

The two heroines of the Swan Lake ballet differ not only in their choreography, emotional coloring of the parts and costumes. Their faces look different and evoke different emotions.

Odette's makeup emphasizes her tenderness, Odile's makeup adds sharpness to her personality. The major difference in their looks is in the eyebrows and eyes. When makeup artists create Odette's rounded eyebrows, they emphasize her softness and harmony. Her eye makeup combines light and brown shades, expressive but not dramatic.

Odile's stage makeup is absolutely different. The eyebrows are more clearly defined, the lines are crisp and dramatic. In her eye makeup, black color takes the lead, black eyeliner goes up to the temples.

Both of these images are classics of ballet makeup, definitely proving that stage makeup applied on dancers’ faces is able to reflect the personalities of their characters.