In my opinion, if there’s one thing that really gives a pole performance an edge and makes it stand out, it’s the dancer’s makeup. Getting up on stage is the perfect excuse to create bold, dramatic looks that will capture the audience’s eyes and add a fabulous, unique flare to your performance.
Now, I have very limited makeup knowledge. I can pretty much stick some on in order to prevent myself looking like sickly, Victorian child, but that’s about as far as my makeup skills go. One such woman however, who is packed full of makeup expertise and talent is the awesome Dree Simone. After pole dancing for ten years and possessing a lifelong obsession with makeup, Dree combined both passions to create facebydree , and provides MUA services to pole dancers’ far and wide!
After being amazed by Dree’s make up witchcraft, I caught up with her to ask all about both her pole dance and makeup journeys and what her tips are for nailing your stage make up.
First off, when did you first start pole dancing and how long have you been pole dancing for?
I started my pole journey about 10 years ago in Essex, after seeing pictures of a friend doing these amazing tricks. This was back when classes would be 5 people to one 50mm pole, but I loved it from the start!
What is your favourite style of pole dance and why?
Believe it or not, I was super sporty when I started pole and wore massive shorts! Back then, there was a real move to make pole more like gymnastics – focused on the tricks, rather than the dance elements. When I moved to Bristol, I started to really love the sensual, stripper side of it and with that came a confidence in myself as I started to recognise and unlearn my own internal misogyny. I became friends with wonderful women who were strippers and sex workers and they completely opened my eyes and challenged my views and assumptions. Now, I absolutely ADORE sensual movement and haven’t looked back since.
Right, onto make up. When did your passion for makeup really take off?
To be honest, I’ve always loved makeup! Even as a child, I would play in my mum’s makeup collection (she loves a red lip) and then get into trouble. I didn’t really care as I was a creative kid and it felt like an extension of my drawing. I discovered the artistry side of makeup a few years ago and started playing with colour (if you know me, you know I love the anything orange) and texture after stumbling across some incredibly talented artists on YouTube.
What made you want to combine both your passions of makeup and pole dance?
I was backstage at a competition and one of the competitors ran up to me to ask for help applying false lashes. Her hands were literally shaking and she was so nervous and understandably preoccupied with remembering her moves. I looked around and noticed that aside from one or two performers who brought someone to do their makeup, everyone was trying to do their own. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone who could take that stress away, so they could focus on remaining calm and mentally prepared? The penny dropped and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work with some amazing artists since.
What is your favourite look that you have created so far for a pole dancer? What competition and/or showcase was it for?
I worked with Dion Christofi for his Pole Theatre Amateur performance (pictured above), which highlighted the cruelty associated with animal testing. Dion is incredibly passionate about animals rights, and anyone who knows him understands how much this subject means to him. He wanted to portray a testing subject and actually shaved parts of his hair to fully embrace the role. We worked to make him look tired and gaunt – as if he’d been sleep deprived and tortured – and scrawled numbers on his face and body. The finished product was fantastic and he went on to win his category!
If you could give any top make up tips to pole dancers for nailing stage makeup, what would they be and why?
Don’t leave it until the last minute! Too many dancers forget to incorporate their makeup into their costume idea, even though so much of dance comes from facial expressions. It becomes an afterthought and a missed opportunity, especially when most competitions have ‘costume’ as a scoring category!
Also, don’t be afraid of intense colour – what looks too much for every day, probably isn’t enough for the stage. Lastly, give yourself enough time to apply your makeup and practice your look before the day of the performance or competition. You’ll get the best results if you’re prepared.
Alternatively, what are some of the most common mistakes that pole dancers make with stage makeup?
Not putting on enough or not incorporating the makeup into the overall theme. A performance is a great opportunity to be bold and push your limits. If you’re struggling to come up with a cohesive look, book a consultation with a professional who will build a look to complement your performance. Honestly, it’ll be worth the investment.
What is your favourite stage makeup look?
Maureen Leykauf was a succubus for the 2018 Dance Filthy final (if you haven’t seen this routine, stop what you’re doing and watch it now!). She has such a beautiful bone structure, which she enhanced with prosthetics and amazing makeup. It all went so perfectly together and I’m still in awe.
What tips do you have for any pole dancers looking to develop their makeup skills? Are there any YouTuber’s worth following?
Practice, practice, practice! It’s the only way to get better at it and in the process, you’ll learn more about the contours of your face, what colours suit you and how to enhance your natural beauty. Makeup can be intimidating, but if you screw it up, it all washes off – so there’s no reason to try something that might be outside of your comfort zone.
I learned a lot of techniques from YouTuber Alissa Ashley, who has loads of videos explaining the basics. Nikki Tutorials is iconic and an absolute OG for looks is Marlena Stell, the founder of Makeup Geek. She has loads of videos for beginners which are easy to follow.
What are your favourite products used for creating a cracking stage look?
I go by the rule that once you have a good base, strong eyebrow and lips, you can’t go wrong. I don’t tend to wear foundation, but when I do I love Fenty foundations (fantastic shade range and the products are dope). I’m obsessed with Anastasia Beverley Hills for brows and contour, and MAC still makes some of the best lipsticks in a tonne of shades (the Powder Kiss formular is perfection). If you have the time, highlighter can really elevate the stage look, but be careful with the formulation – some products can sit on top of foundation, rather than blend in.
Who are the pole dancers that you can think of that always nail their stage makeup?
Tiff Finney always looks banging (she’s introduced me to some Charlotte Tilbury products which I swear by) and Brandon Grimm does some of the best makeup (on himself and others).