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How to Create Beautiful Ballerina Eyes Using Dance Makeup

This is the most wonderful time of the year! A magical time of brightly lit snow dusted trees and sugar plum fairies. This is a time to reconnect with our friends and loved ones, and to warm ourselves by a crackling fire. And it is, of course, time once again for the most loved holiday ballet – the Nutcracker!

A ballet is a story and the ballerina plays a part. In order to follow the story and connect to the character the audience needs to see the natural dimension of the dancer’s eyes. Dance makeup for a ballerina should accentuate and enhance the natural shape of her eye. This will allow the audience to follow the ballerina’s gaze. The audience needs to see if her eyes are open, closed, and where she is looking as she moves through the dance.

As you’re preparing for your upcoming Holiday performances I would like to share with you my best tips on how to use dance makeup to create beautiful ballerina eyes. Ballerinas are known for being beautiful, and there is something especially stunning in the way dance makeup is used to intensify a ballerina’s eyes. Eye makeup for ballet dancers can be intimidating at first, but by following a few simple steps you will be applying ballet eyes like a professional dance makeup artist in no time!

The first step to creating perfect ballet eyes is to understand the basics of contouring. Contouring is using a darker eye shadow to create dimension. There are three main types of eye contouring. Depending on the look you want to achieve you can use these tricks together or separately.


1) Starting at the lash line, blend the contour shadow up past the crease to the brow bone, allowing it to gradually fade along the way.

2) Apply contour shadow in a sideways “c” or “v” shape on the outer third portion of the eyelid.

3) Apply contour shadow in the crease.

This classical ballet dance makeup look can be difficult to achieve (especially for those with small lid space), but just like with your dancing, practice makes perfect! There are some important dos and don’ts to consider when creating expressive ballet eyes. Make sure you follow these tips whenever doing makeup for dance.

The Dos:

1) DO use neutral/warm earth-toned eye shadow colors for stage performances. They are perfect under all colors of stage lighting and will accentuate the eyes and skin.

2) DO apply your dance makeup dark enough to be seen up to the first 8 – 12 rows (approximately).

3) DO use false lashes to enhance the shape of your eyes on stage!

The Don’ts:

1) DON’T use black liquid eyeliner under the eyes! Instead use an eye shadow with an angled makeup brush or, if you must, use an eye pencil.

2) DON’T forget to blend, blend, blend…you’re a ballerina not a punk rocker!

3) DON’T use black liner on the inside lower eyelid – this will make the eyes look smaller. Use a white highlighter pencil on the inside rim of the lower eyelid to brighten the eyes and make them look bigger.

Try out my dance makeup tips and create your own beautiful, expressive ballerina eyes. Happy Holidays and may you have your most BEAUTIFUL holiday performance yet!

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About the Author

Jessica Dupont, Jam Cosmetics
827 Kenwood Isles Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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