Dancers use their craft to tell a story for the audience, projecting emotions, words and ideas with their movements. The ability to wordlessly translate their feelings for the crowd is a refined skill. Dancers need to use their whole bodies and the expressions on their faces to help convey the emotion of the moment. But with the bright, shining lights flooding the stage, it’s easy for dancers’ expressions to be washed out. That means the subtle nuances that are essential for setting the tone for their story to be over-looked. For younger dancers, having well-applied stage makeup for kids makes all the difference.
By highlighting dancers’ facial features, it makes it easier for the audience to see their expressions. It’s an important and long-standing tradition in the community for dancers to include stage makeup as a routine component of their costumes. This can be a little tricky when it comes to stage makeup for kids and young dancers, however.
Less Is More for Stage Makeup for Kids
While most young dancers haven’t yet mastered the proper expressiveness for their dance routines, stage makeup for kids and younger dancers is still usually required for performances. It makes them more visible for the audience and compliments the overall costumed look of a recital.
Though stage makeup still plays an important role in the presentation of young dancers, there are some differences in how their palettes should be applied. It’s not uncommon for moms and dads to have some reservations about putting a full adult-level application of makeup on their young children’s faces. As such, simplicity and minimalism are key strategies that many parents choose for their young dancers.
There’s no need to worry about intricate contours and layer upon layer of products for young dancers. The important step is to highlight their facial features so that they can be seen.
How to Apply Stage Makeup for Kids
Parents know their kids better than anyone else does, so they may be better equipped to gauge what their little ones can handle when for the patience and cautiousness that comes with a full face of makeup.
However, in most cases it’s better to wait until closer to showtime to apply makeup on young dancers. Since they aren’t used to having makeup on it may be easier for them to forget it’s there and inadvertently rub their faces, streaking mascara and lipstick as they go. While there’s no need to reach deep into the pockets to pay for top-shelf products for kids, some parents may want to invest in waterproof or smudge-proof cosmetics to prevent some of these accidents as well.
When applying makeup to a young dancer, it’s important to make sure they’re able to sit calmly and wait for the process to be over. Kids who fidget or are too excited for their show to sit still may need to have their makeup applied in stages so they can have a break to shake some of that energy out. It would be a good idea to have them wear an old shirt over their outfit during this process as well in case anything should spill.
After they are seated and ready to go, parents can begin to apply their stage makeup:
For foundation: Some parents may prefer to opt out of foundation. Check with the instructors to be sure, but most won’t require foundation for very young dancers. If you choose to go that route, however, that will be the first step.
Make sure the color matches your child’s skin tone. If she’s never worn makeup before, test the skin on the inside of her wrist to make sure she doesn’t have any allergies to the product. Use a makeup sponge to dab the foundation evenly across her face and neck once you’ve determined that it’s safe. Dance for Kids recommends going over a liquid foundation with a powder to help the foundation set and to avoid extra shininess under the stage lights.
For blush: Stage makeup for kids will be a little more dramatic than normal makeup, so the blush should be slightly more pronounced. Since kids tend to not have defined cheekbones, have your dancer smile the biggest, cheesiest smile she can, or else suck in her cheeks to make a fish face. This will help you find the apples of her cheeks. Swipe upwards toward the temples with a blush brush.
You’ll again want to verify with your child’s program to see how much eye makeup they prefer. Some will be fine with just a little eye shadow and mascara for young dancers. The most basic stage makeup for kids will include eyeliner.
For eye shadow: Choose a neutral color to highlight the brow bone first, or just focus on the lid. The lid color should be close to your dancer’s natural skin tone, just a few shades darker. For pale dancers that could mean either a tan or light grey, for example. Sweep a brush over the crease of her eyelid and blend down toward her lashes.
For eyeliner: The Champaign-Urbana Ballet recommends using eyeliner on the bottom and top lids to help emphasize the eye. Be aware that for young children a traditional pencil liner may be too hard for their delicate skin. Instead try a liquid or gel liner that has a soft applicator.
For mascara: Most mascara tubes have brushes that are too big for small eyelashes. Try finding a small sample- or travel-size mascara, or one that’s made for lower lashes. These will be smaller and more manageable on young faces. Many kids will be wary of having something so close their eyes. A good tip is to have them roll their eyes up at the ceiling while you apply the mascara, so they don’t see the wand so close to their eye.
To help keep lipstick from smudging, apply a primer or more foundation over her lips first.
For lipliner: Lipliner will help keep lipstick in place. Use a pencil liner that matches the lipstick shade to outline the edge of your dancers’ lips, then color in the rest of the lip.
For lipstick: Apply lipstick last and be sure your dancer blots with a tissue. Keep straws handy so she can sip on drinks without smudging her lipstick.