Thursday, February 9, 2012


Beautiful stage make up is an absolute necessity for dancers, and also for your audience-it's one of the many elements that transports them away from their everyday lives and into your unique realm of fantasy.

That is precisely why I asked DeVilla to write this guest post below. DeVilla is a fabulous professional dancer, but she's also been a professional Hollywood make up artist for over twenty years. You've probably seen her incredible work on many motion pictures and television shows. She is also my co-star on our brand new instructional make up DVD Bombshell: Dramatic Make Up For The Stage, Photos & Glamourous Occasions. As soon as DeVilla left the set of the "Bombshell" DVD, she went to work on a film featuring a certain caped crusader, which will undoubtedly become one of this summer's blockbuster hits; and she recently completed work on the bio-pic Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried and Sarah Jessica Parker.

The "Bombshell" double-disc DVD will be available for the special discounted pre-order price of $19.99 on my own website, here: from this Monday, February 13 to February 29, 2012.

But for right now, see what DeVilla has to say about creating a gorgeous stage face!

Know Your House: How To Make Sure Your Face Matches Your Performance Space

By DeVilla

As dancers, we perform in many different venues, from house parties and restaurants to festivals under unflattering florescent lighting to large stage events with amazing lighting! These varied situations all require different make up techniques. It’s our job as performers to create the illusion of the illusive, mystical, joyous and free spirited dancer. Hair, make up and costuming all come into play.

“Knowing your House,” means to fully understand your performance space and the lighting situation you will be in. Most of us do not get to perform on a large stage with a lighting tech and great lighting very often, so let’s start there.

If you have the luxury of this situation you really need to take yourself out of your make up comfort zone and go for super-dramatic highlight and shading. Don't be afraid! You need to contour your entire face, including eyes, nose, cheekbones and jaw line- even if you don't need to change the shape of your face. You will want to use a grey brown/ taupe shade for contouring. This neutral tone will suck up light and draw the facial plane backward. Place this shade under your jaw line, under your cheekbones and along the sides of your nose. Be sure to blend well.

Use a lighter flesh tone with some yellow or a bit of iridescent pearl or gold to highlight the top of your nose, and the tops of your cheekbones. Bronzer and cheek color can be utilized over top to help blend it all together! If you don’t use highlight and shading the stage lights are so bright that they will completely wash your face out and you will probably not be seen much past the third row.
That would be a bummer considering how much you spent on that costume!

Here is the trick to knowing when you have enough make up on. During your tech rehearsal or before the show have a friend sit in the center of the theater, or, as they say in the theater, your “house”. She should be in the center chair about half way to three quarters up and she’ll be checking your make up from there. Have her video you in the lighting you will be seen in if possible. If, from that vantage point you look as if you still have a face on, GREAT JOB! If not, go for more highlight and shading, and don't be afraid!

For smaller events in dimmer lighting you will want to use less, but you will still want to create that illusion of perfection from head to toe. I always use varying degrees of highlight and shading to define my face even out side in daylight.

Do your homework, play, experiment and remember, " It's only make up!"

One last thing: To look finished, don’t forget to paint your finger and toenails!

PHOTOS: "Bombshell" cover photo by Dusti Cunningham, DeVilla portrait by Amanda Brooks


  1. Don't forget about filling in the eyebrows! I constantly see pictures of dancers, even well-known ones, with skinny eyebrows (you know who are you - or should, at least). Eyebrows are like frames for a beautiful painting, don't neglect them!

    1. Oh yes, totally-- and we both cover that on the Bombshell DVD.... brows for stage CAN be skinny... but if they are skinny, they need to be REALL DARK! Even if you're fair and blonde!

      Too many well-known pro's out there who don't ever wera enough stage make-up!