Winning Look

How This New York City It-Girl Ballerina Preps For The Stage

Violetta Komyshan on her performance-day beauty rituals, self-care practices, and tips for nailing the perfect sleek bun.

Ballerina Violetta Komyshan on her pre-performance beauty rituals and self-care practices.

Ballet dancers are meant to evoke beauty through movement. But that doesn’t mean they ditch hair and makeup rituals to solely focus on choreography. Violetta Komyshan, for one, strongly relies on her beauty routine ahead of each performance.

“You can create different kinds of characters [with makeup],” the professional dancer tells Bustle.

Komyshan, who grew up in New York City and began dancing 17 years ago, always knew she wanted to be in ballet. After successfully improvising her way through an audition to the prestigious Ballet Tech School, the current Connecticut Ballet dancer has become a definitive New York City it-girl.

Besides starring in classics like The Nutcracker and performing at hotspots like the Guggenheim, Komyshan can be found traipsing about town in swoon-worthy ‘fits, traveling to tropical destinations for what she dubs #bikiniballet, and teaching her special The Goddess Method yoga-meets-dance classes.

As the dancer gears up for her next role in Alice in Wonderland, Bustle caught up with Komyshan to chat about her game-day rituals, the makeup essentials she brings on the road, and the self-care practices that keep her in dancing shape.

What does your morning routine look like on performance days?

For breakfast, I always eat a hard-boiled egg cut up onto avocado toast. The dancers then have class from 10:00 until noon, then usually we’ll have a few rehearsals. If it’s a night show, it’ll usually start at 7, and we go to the theater three hours early — which is when the beauty starts.

Walk me through what a pre-show beauty routine looks like.

We usually do our own makeup unless we’re playing a specific character that requires prosthetics or a wig.

You always want your eyes to look really big for the audience. I actually have a kit that I carry around for all shows that includes black liner, liquid liner, white liner, white liquid liner, lashes, and all different eyeshadows depending on the role. Chanel has a really nice waterproof liner — the Stylo Yeux — that’s great for the waterline.

What do you do to accentuate your eyes with makeup?

A lot of us do under eyeliner, where you fill in your lower waterline with white and then I’ll do another white liquid liner under the lashes, and then I’ll do a black liner under that. I’ll do the same on top. Then, paired with lashes, your eyes look bigger on stage. We all do it pretty quickly, it’s not super perfect.

Sometimes you’ll just shade in shadows if you want to be more ethereal. For Swan Lake, for example, I wouldn’t do as much black — I’d do more white for a white swan if I’m in the core.

Also, if you do your waterline in black, it shrinks your eyes but makes them a lot more seductive. If you put white in the inner corners and then just do liner on the ends, it opens up your eyes and makes you look more doll-like and cute.

What else do you typically use makeup-wise for shows?

With lipstick, we tend to not use bright reds — they look blue on stage because of the light. Instead, we’ll go with a darker, brownish burnt-red. I also love a dark pink. Charlotte Tilbury’s Amazing Amal is one of my favorites.

For cheeks and skin, you’ll go pretty heavy with foundation and then contouring. And I love using an illuminator on the tip of the nose and all over the cheeks to brighten.

Do you like to wear fragrance when you perform?

I do. It’s like method dancing for me. I choose a fragrance based on the character. For my last role, I used Kilian Love, Don’t Be Shy because it smells so sugary. I was doing flowers in snow and I felt like I was supposed to smell sweet. I’ve also used Montale Paris Intense Cafe — it’s one of my favorite scents, and that was for Coffee in The Nutcracker. It smelled like a raspberry chocolate coffee drink.

For your hair, does it always have to be pulled into a ballerina bun or not necessarily?

It totally depends on the character. We do a lot of French twists, where you brush it and then pin it up. It creates a pretty head shape on stage, which is why we do that. Then we’ll do a sleek ballerina bun.

What are your tricks for nailing the perfect ballerina bun?

I’ll use a pomade if I want it really sleek — Kerastase and Ouai have really good ones. I have bangs, too, so the pomade is key for making them disappear into my hair. I also have this boar-bristle flat brush that I use to brush my bangs back, and then pins — lots and lots of pins.

What sort of self-care practices do you turn to on performance days?

I have a foam roller from Therabody that vibrates, so it really gets into my muscles. I’ll do it before and after shows a lot.

I tend to get really swollen ankles after a few performances, so I’ll ice my feet a lot and then apply a hemp and arnica cream at night.

Are there any beauty treatments you like to get ahead of a performance?

I love lymphatic drainage, those massages feel so good. I also do a lot of infrared sauna — I go to Alo gym and they have one, so I’ll sit in there for a while. Now I have an infrared sauna blanket at home, too, which is just amazing. I’ll lie in that for hours — it’s just warm and nice.

Sometimes I’ll do facials too. I was going to Dr. Barbara Sturm. Oh, and I love the NuFace.

What do you do to wind down after a show?

Definitely eat. Sometimes if it’s a little earlier, I’ll run to Whole Foods and get a rotisserie chicken and soup. Then I’ll either watch a movie and ice my feet or use arnica and massage my legs with a Theragun.

I’ll also shower and do my skin care routine. I’ve been obsessed with this Omorovicza Queen Cleanser. Sometimes I’ll use coconut oil on my eyes if I have to take off a lot of makeup. Then I can pass out.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.