05/31/2013 11:04 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Barre None: 'Make Up' Your True Self

Welcome to Barre None, my new video blog exclusively on Huffington Post. I'm Sara Mearns and I hope to be your tour guide into the world of classical ballet. You might ask yourself, "Why a video blog that goes behind the scenes of a classical ballet dancer's daily life?" Because what you see on the stage does not begin to capture what ballet or our lives are all about. You see the performance, but what you don't see -- the rehearsals, the costume designs, the frazzled nerves, the learning of a new ballet, the constant travels around the world, the injuries and the oftentimes long, painful road to recovery that lead us to wonder if this is the injury that can end a career -- it's all a part of what we do and who we are.

I'm only one dancer, but I hope that by giving you a window into my life as a principal ballerina at New York City Ballet, a door will be opened to more interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm for this artform that I, and so many others, love and work so hard for. So come on in, pull up a seat, and join me every Friday. You'll have a great time. I promise. Barre None.


When I got into the company ten years ago, I met one of the most amazing artists I will ever encounter. His name is Micheal Avedon and he was the makeup artist for New York City ballet at the time. He had been there for 20 years and had created looks for hundreds of ballets and made up thousands of faces for the stage. He wasn't just a makeup artist, he was a painter, a visionary of beauty and of the imagination. He could envision and create any character and make it come to life on your face. It was pure magic.

We immediately made a connection and became a team. I truly believe he made me the presence I am today on the stage. Without him, I wouldn't have found my look, my story.

Your makeup should be an extension of you, your personality, your character, your being. It should be an expression of your artistry. Michael made it a magical experience for me, to make up my face every night. He would never do the same thing twice, just like I never dance a ballet the same way twice. He would use as many as six or seven colors on my eyes--not that people in the audience would see that detail--but it was about the painting he was producing that mattered. We would often take photos of my done up face to have inspiration for the next time. He made getting ready for the show fun for me.

The performance doesn't start at 8 p.m. but starts the moment I walk into my dressing room to put my face on. Your face is a blank canvas that you can do anything with. Let your makeup be part of your performance. Most audience members only watch from the waist up. The moment you step on the stage, the audience should be captivated by your presence and that includes your face. Michael used to go into the audience every night and watch with binoculars to examine everyone's looks and to see who needed help and who looked the best.

Makeup is there to enhance your beauty but it's also there to tell a story. It may be a different story every night but that's what makes it fun. Play around with it, go crazy sometimes, or sometimes go subtle to see what feels natural to you and find what makes you feel the most beautiful. The audience will then follow you and won't be able to take their eyes off you.

I could go on for hours about this and tell you all my secrets and makeup tips but that would be a book! Maybe I should do a book! Ha ha. Hope you enjoyed my video. See you next week!

Check out last week's video blog here.

You can find Sara Mearns on twitter here: @nycbstar2b.