Monday, 29 September 2014

Getting into the Mood... Pre-Performance Rituals, and Make-up Must Haves! Part 1

I always have a bubble bath before a show. Always. I will make time to have a bath. Even if it means getting up stupidly early. I need to have at least 30 minutes in among the bubbles to be quiet, read a book, or listen to some music, and compose myself. 
It's a cosmetic thing that means so much to me, and really affects how I feel before a performance! Without that hug of warm water, I would - and I'm not ashamed to admit it - feel quite bereft! Let alone if I forgot my beloved MAC Shimmer Powder - then there really would be temper tantrums before going on stage! 

I thought I would ask some of my favourite dancers about their own personal pre-performance rituals, their make-up essentials, and also what inspires them with their own performance makeup and style!

In Part 1, I will be interviewing the Glamourous Princess Farhana, the Beautiful Rachel Bennett, the Scrummy Helen Santa Maria, and the Exotic Natasha Bradley!

Princess Farhana
So Princess, you are always so busy - you must have performance preparation down to a T! how do you like to prepare for a show or performance?
Since I travel constantly,  sometimes my gig preparation  is done days before the actual gig occurs…  selecting which costumes to pack, making sure I have every piece  and that its in good repair, all the matching accessories, my music, cymbals, and promotional  materials.  If I am at home,  I   do this too, but usually on the day of the show.

Photo taken by Lee Corkett
If I’ve never performed at a venue before ( like when I’m on the road) I  like to get to there early as possible, so I can look at the stage or performance area, hang out with the other dancers, and feel relaxed.  At home, I’m familiar with  most places I perform, but  I have to allow time  for  the insane traffic in Los Angeles, and would still prefer to get to my show early as opposed to rushing in at the last minute!
Wow! That is super organised! How important to you is your make-up ritual before a show? Do you have any other rituals or practices you do before a performance?
 I can do my stage make up anywhere… in 10 minutes flat!  I’ve done it in parked or moving cars  by street light, on beaches, in a forest, in the Men’s Room of a club, in  a tent at Burning Man in the middle of the desert. But whether  I’m getting ready in a dressing room, hotel room,  “on location” or  at my own house, I absolutely  would choose  not rush it. Taking the time to decide upon  my colors, lay out my brushes and cosmetics neatly and taking my time applying make up carefully  centers me and gets me in a nice, calm Zen-like space, where I can focus on my performance.  I like to listen to my music  while I get made up.  Let’s put it this way:  I’d rather do my face than eat dinner -and I LOVE my food, I tell you! - but I’ve have been known eat while  painting up my face, cause nothing trumps this ritual for me!
I always  need time to warm up  too…   no matter where I am, I keep moving and stretching.
I keep a small emergency  bag within my   gig bag  with bobby pins, safety pins, fashion tape, band-aids ( or “plasters”  as you  Brits say!) feminine protection, breath mints, pain relievers like ibuprophen or paracetemol,  a sewing kit, comb & brush, travel sized hair spray, deodorant, and my favorite scent, “Cotton Candy” which is a light body spray that makes me smile… I think it was originally intended for  8 year old girls, but I love it!
Another thing I  always do is to pray before I go onstage.  Actually, it’s more of a   gratitude ritual.  I close my eyes for a moment in a quiet place, even if it’s just the wings of the stage  and  thank the universe  for allowing my dreams of dance to come true… I am always so grateful for this!!! Then I focus on the audience and silently send them love and appreciation for coming to the show, and hope that I can transport them  with my piece, and that we can exchange energy  in a beautiful way.
You have some beautiful make-up looks, and always seem to have your own unique style. Who is your main inspiration for your own personal look, and why?
As far as make up goes, I look to vintage  movie stars and showgirls for inspiration…  and I like to chat with the dancers I’m sharing the stage with- it inspires me to see everyone’s creativity and to get to know them  before we go out and perform!
Where can dancers find out more about you and your performing?

Helen Santa Maria
So Helen, as a seasoned performer, how do you like to prepare for your performances? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
For my very first gigs I used to start the build up build up about 3 days before! Then on the day I'd gear my whole day around getting ready and warming up etc.
These days I like to listen to my list of 'inspirational songs' and decide my set list whilst getting my make up on. I also listen to any new music I might be dancing to. I'm usually trying to entertain my one-year-old daughter, Sophia, who likes to get involved in the make up process. Through sheer necessity I can pretty much get myself ready from top to toe in 90 minutes or less! But however stretched I am for time, I ALWAYS have a cup of tea before leaving the house - that's non-negotiable.
I like the idea of the cup of tea! I think I need to include that in my own ritual! So what is your must-have in your performance make-up bag?
It depends on the season: in Summer it's face powder but in overall I'd have to say a really good lip gloss. Generally I travel pretty light for gigs.
You always look so polished and beautiful when you perform. Who or what is your inspiration for when you do your own make-up for shows?
I learned to do make up when I was a competitive ballroom dancer. I'm not naturally very artistic or good at make up so I had to just copy what everyone else did as best I could. Boy do they plaster it on, it was good training!
Where can dancers find out more about you and your performing?
Find out more about me at Follow me on twitter Connect with me on facebook: Like my facebook page: Subscribe to my youtube:
Come and see me perform!: - Resident dancer at Mangal Turkish restaurant, Reading 24th October, 7th November, 19th December - Sheikh It! Kenton Theatre, Henley 22nd October - Hossam ans Serena Ramzy hafla, Hurst Village Hall, 29th November

Rachel Bennett
Hi Rachel! As a super busy dancer who is is constant demand, do you have any pre-performance rituals to keep you calm and performance ready?

My most important ritual is to pack in advance using my special personalised bellydance performance pack list. Knowing I have everything I could possibly need is essential for a focused mindset.
What are your make-up must haves for your performance cosmetic bag?

My key cosmetic staples are: Eyelure eyelash glue, Max Factor pressed powder, MAC khol eyeliner crayon, Lipsticks in 3-4 key shades and of course, Perfume. All of equal importance and essential for makeup maintenance and refreshing in between sets!

Wow! You have a good arsenal of key items - I can't leave without perfume in my bag either! You are always so perfectly presented, how have you created your own personal bellydance look?

My look is individualised for me. I play with ideas but ultimately I create a look that endeavours to compliment and enhance my appearance as a bellydancer.
Where can dancers find out more about you and your performing?
You can visit my website at!

Natasha Bradley
Natasha, your performances are always so upbeat and full of life! What do you do to prepare?
1.      I don’t often have the luxury of time when preparing for a gig. I will usually settle on a playlist and dance around a bit to get some ideas and then music is fresh in my head before I go. I will also listen to some up-beat bellydance music whilst applying my make-up to get me in the party mood!  When at the venue I will warm-up and stretch just before going on.
If I am doing a practised performance at a show however, my preparation will be more about relaxing, deep-breathing and again lots of stretching!
Good call with the stretching - that's something a lot of dancers forget! What can you not leave the house without when it comes to your make-up bag?
        I always make sure I take ALL my make up with me if I’m doing more than one set so I can touch up in between sets... but the things I cannot leave behind when going to any gig would be... safety pins, a hairclip (as I have to get my hair off my sweaty neck ASAP!) and eyelash glue!! I love my false eyelashes as they help me get into character and hate it if they come loose!!

      Good call with the hair clip, that is definitely every dancers worst nightmare if you have long hair! I always bring a hair band so I can tie mine up after the first set! So tell me about how you do your make-up, your style is very exotic and really adds to your costuming - what's your inspiration?
I must say it took me a while to get my make-up right, and I am still always experimenting and change it all the time. I like the classic Cleopatra look with heavy eyeliner in a long flick from the eye...but also recently like using bhindis at the edges of my eyes, or one eye for an easy splash of colour.  I also take inspiration from ancient Persian art, again with the heavy black eyeliner to accentuate the almond eye shape, I sometimes darken and lengthen my eyebrows too.
Where can we find out more about you and your performing?
       You can find me at I dance every Saturday night in Windsor and teach classes with SMBA.
That all for now folks - stay tuned for Part 2, where we will be chatting to some more dancers about how they get performance ready!

Final Note for the Day:
All these dancers have one thing in common - they all PREPARE. If you are a nervous performer, prep your bag the night before, I guarantee, it will take a load off your mind if you know that all your costumes, make-up and extras are all in one place, ready for you to take to your gig!

Want to catch up on my 100 day Belly Dance Challenge? Don't forget to check out my YouTube playlist here.

If you want to use this post in your e-zine, blog or newsletter, please go ahead! But make sure that you credit Louise Brooks -

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