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If you have ever been involved in a school show or a theatrical production for the stage or television, you have probably worn stage makeup. Do you know why you had to wear it? Just imagine yourself on a big stage with large, hot spotlights glaring down at you from all angles and with an audience of a hundred or more people out front watching you. If you stood on that brightly lit stage without makeup on the audience probably would see only a blur instead of your face because the strong lights would wash out all your features. So actors, singers and dancers all have to wear stage makeup so the audience can recognize them as individual performers.

Stage makeup does not have to make you look like a different person; it can simply highlight and accentuate your features so that the audience can see you and respond to you as an individual. If you like, makeup can help you look more beautiful or cover up features you do not want people to see. Makeup artists know many tricks to help you look your very best.

If you are playing a character role on stage your makeup will be much more complicated. Rather than highlighting your facial features you have to cover them with a completely new face and look like a totally different person. This type of makeup is very challenging for performers; but once it is completed, it helps them become the character they are portraying, because every time they look in a mirror they see not themselves but that other person.

What kind of makeup do dancers use?

Makeup is constantly changing, not only street makeup but stage makeup too. There was a time when performers used only grease paints and sticks for the stage and there used to be a very specific, cliché "ballet makeup" that not only accentuated features but exaggerated them to the extreme.

Today dancers use many different types of makeup for the stage. Many buy their makeup at theatrical supply stores, but since these days glamour makeup used by fashion models and everyday street makeup is more like stage makeup, many dancers buy drugstore cosmetics for the stage. These new makeup methods allow for a much more natural, warmer look, while continuing to highlight the dancer's features.

A makeup unique to the ballet world is "wet-white," a white pancake makeup that the dancers wet with a sponge and apply to their arms, back, necks and other exposed parts of their bodies. They wear wet-white when dancing as swans, wilis, sylphs, dryads and any otherworldly spirits, because the wet-white produces an alabaster colour, giving them a white, frail look, as if they had never been exposed to sunlight.

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