Carmel Valley Dancers Putting Their Best Face Forward

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Louis McKay | Stage Make-upIf you are a Carmel Valley dancer, then chances are you are preparing for a very imminent and rigorous competition season.  Dance competitions run year long, however most dancers will experience the ‘competition scene’ during the months of January through July.  Being prepared in mind, body and spirit is key as is making sure just the right costume is representing just the right dance number.  The last and one of the most important details is the stage make-up.

Those immersed in the competitive world of dance know all the self-tanning, makeup and sparkles don’t make the champion.  It sure helps a dancer feel her/his best when on stage.  Every girl dreams of dancing—and looking perfect while as a critical audience looks on.  Unlike everyday life, when it comes to your makeup for big dance competitions, more is key.  Like the satin of new Pointe shoes, makeup helps create stage magic.  From flesh-toned innocence to provocative, kohl-lined eyes, it can enhance natural features or transform a woman into a fantastical creature.  Even though the effect is undeniable, the steps between mirror and stage are often glossed over, as habit trumps glamour.  But would a performance be complete without the touches of lashes and lipstick?

Great masterpieces begin with a blank palate.  Begin to create yours this way.  Moisturize your face immediately after washing so that the makeup floats on the surface instead of settling into crevices.  Then apply a base (at NCDA we prefer MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix for long lasting stage presence) over the entire face, neck, and upper-chest with a sponge or brush followed by translucent or neutral-tone powder to set the foundation.  Make sure you blend the base without harsh lines.  Next, sweep blush on your cheek apples and dust powder on the jawbone, temples, and high forehead to contour bone structure.  Although many dancers use some version of this routine, each may also have a unique regimen.  For traditional contouring, brown streaks (NCDA dancers use MAC Deep Dark Contouring Power) to highlight the cheekbones, jawbone, temples so that the audiences in larger houses can discern features.  This is also beneficial for performers with smaller, receding features

For the eyes, strongly outline the brows and use eyeliner to emphasize the upper lids.  Extend the crease at the outside corner of the eye with eyeliner to make the eye appear larger, and use a smaller eyeliner line for the lower lids.  Use natural colors for eye shadow, like brown or dark purple, but add a streak of a bright color in the center of the eyelid above the pupil (preferably blue) to make the eye appear more open.  Many performers opt for the dramatic effect of the extended sideways “V” that continues far past the outer eye corner as most recently seen in the movie “Black Swan”.  Consideration on how to portray the character the dancer is portraying on stage is of most importance.  The shape you draw with a pencil or eyebrow shadow can influence and support your portrayal of that character.

Ok.. false eyelashes.  With widening and brightening effects, they are favored as a quick way to make the eyes pop. However, messy glue and tricky application can be annoying.  Many dancers brave the downsides to achieve a more glamorous visage.  To optimize the effect of those extra lashes, our competition coaches recommend that dancers put a small gob of glue on the back of the hand and gently swipe the lash edge through it so you get a minimal amount on the lash.  As you apply from the inside of the top lid out, place the outer edge of the lash in a straight line instead of on the natural slope and leave a little space between the lash and your real lash line.  Fill in that gap with black liner.

To make lips more prominent, use a pencil to outline around the mouth, in addition to putting on lipstick.  You may also add a narrow white streak on the upper lip, above the dark outline.  You will want to use brighter lipstick than daily wear, in bright red or burgundy tones.

And not’s forget about the guys.  For male dancers a face powder for a smooth base, eyeliner pencil and mascara on eyebrows.  Sometimes even a bit a blush can’t hurt.  Let’s face it…for the guys as for the girls; it’s about seeing the features of the dancer’s face (or the character that they place) are important to the performance.  For a guy, performing without make-up is like performing without tights.  It’s part of the costume.

Just like a dancer or competitor with just the right choreography, the right costuming…make-up can transform a dancer into a true performer…the best version of themselves.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Louis A. McKay | North County Dance Arts

Louis McKay is President of North County DanceArts, Inc. located in Carmel Valley and currently trains 400 students from ages 3 to 93 years of age.  Louis has performed and taught Master dance and musical theater classes in 42 of our 50 states and Europe and South Africa. In 1980, Louis McKay opened Louis McKay Dance Studio, later to become North County DanceArts, Inc., which is a teaching facility that is best known for its professional teaching staff and quality dance training. Dancers from beginning level to professional are taught technique, terminology, and discipline in a nurturing and fun environment. Louis currently lives in Carmel Valley San Diego with his wife Tanya and is the proud father of four grown children and two grandchildren. Louis and Tanya McKay also own DanceHearts, a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity called Bells of Freedom Program, serves military men, women and their families by providing emergency care and support, back to school backpack program, vehicle donations and the annual “The Big Thank You” Military Holiday Event.


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