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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Curling hair for Nutcracker Clara


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We have used Redkin Hot Sets Thermal Styling Mist. It is a spray you put on the hair, then use a hot iron to curl. It sets like glue and doesn't let go. Sometimes it's a little hard to find so I stock up when I find it.


Nothing ever worked as well and we got LOTS of comments backstage about DD's hair staying curled while others were looking a little limp by performance time. It was even curled the next day.


Good luck!


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  • balletbooster


  • Gracey


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  • pasdechevaux


Knock Knock My dd is now 13, but we have had years of experience with ringlets!! Yankee is right, whichever method you are going to use, try it out a couple of weeks before the performance. What works for one girl may not work on your dd. After trying all methods I still like the curling iron the best. We found that with my dd's thick hair, she had to have so many rollers, it was real uncomfortable for her to sleep. The first year is the hardest, but you will be surprised at how easy it becomes! I can do her head in about 35 minutes. She would have about 25-28 sausage curls, which are a little bigger than ringlets. Make sure you have a real hot curling iron and use setting gel on each section before curling and lots of hairspray. I agree that you DO NOT wash hair until after that last performance! The curl stays so much better in dirty hair. Also after you have the hair done, scoop the curls into a thick hairnet or shower cap and secure to the pony tail on top of the head. Take it off right before they are ready to go back stage. It is the weight of the hair that pulls out most of the curl, so if you keep it supported the curls won't relax. For some the rollers are easier. There is a technique to taking out the roller, that I could never master!!! We always ended up with some sections that stuck to the rollers, or just ended up looking frizzy. I know that a few moms that do use rollers because their dd's have real fine hair. They put on a setting gel, and use those paper wrappers that you use in perms. This stops the hair from sticking to the roller. I tried this but it would take me as long to put in the rollers as it did to just use the curling iron!


If you do buy the hair piece, I would get a real hair one. It costs more, but it looks so much better. At our studio, you aren't allowed to use the fake hair because the color can be real unnatural looking under the lights. The other benefit is that you can wash and recurl a real hair piece, so you can use it for longer.

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I've had quick results from using the "noodle" type rollers you get at the drugstore. I can't remember the brand name, but they are spongy and come in different colors (blue, pink) for different style curls. My dd has long medium fine hair. I just spritz lengths of hair with hairspray, wrap it around the roller, and twist it to hold. Once I finish all the curls, I use the hair dryer on low and blow the set curls. After 30 minutes I unwrap the curls carefully to preserve their shape and then hairspray again. It lasts for hours! :yes:


Before we found these curlers, we ordered from hairaddons.com



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My daughter had very thick, coarse, mid-back hair when we were faced with the Clara curls dilemna. :blink: Sounds like her hair may be of a similar consistency with your daughter's and we found that what worked for us, did not work for the other Clara that year or her friends in subsequent years. We tried about every hair product, roller, hot roller and pin curl imaginable. Here's what finally worked:


I used good old Dippity Doo that I got at a beauty supply store. It is the strongest gel I have found and really makes that curl stiff, which is necessary for long, heavy hair. (Friends whose daughters had long, fine hair found this to be too heavy for their hair, but it was a lifesaver for us.)


I rolled her hair dry. It would not dry overnight otherwise and wet hair does not hold the gel as well as dry hair. If the hair is still not dry from the gel, use a blow dryer to aim at the damp ones for a few minutes and you should be able to dry the gel pretty quickly. The gel is much more responsive to heat than hair that is wet from water. I also used very small sections of hair. I used over 100 sponge curlers on her head, with the front pulled back in a rubber band and rolled in separate ringlets. She did wear the curlers in her hair all day the next day (with a kerchief over it at school) and I didn't take out the rollers until we were at the theater. I sprayed each curl as it was unwound. I did not brush through the curls at all. (This takes out some of the gel that is providing the glue to hold it in place, so I don't advise it for heavy hair.)


We re-rolled her hair each night, without washing in between. This may sound gross, but it allows you to keep the same sections and reapply more gel each night. By Sunday, she could probably balance a sofa on those curls, that were very stiff by that time! :D Then, she would wash it on Sunday night and begin the process again mid-week, when shows commenced. :sweating: It also works best if you do not start with clean, freshly shampooed hair. Wash and dry it the day before and start with hair that is not squeaky clean. The secret here is to have as much as possible there that the gel can bond to.


Hope this helps! When she was required to be at the theater in full costume, for pictures in the lobby, but no performing that day, we did purchase a cascade from a local wig shop and rolled it one time. :thumbsup: We put her hair up in a bun and then attached the cascade over it. It worked just fine. Her counterpart that year had very short hair and used one for all the performances. It never fell off, but she did end up with two bald spots where it was secured in place, as all that tugging with jumps and turns took a toll! :o However, the hair did grow back. :yes:

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Knock, knock (older dancer's mom)...I second (third. or whatever) the add-in hairpiece curls. Dd got hers at a local wig shop for about $8.00, and the saleswoman was able to match her hair color perfectly. She simply pulled her own hair into a regular old bun, pinned in the curls and bow, and voilla -- party hair. No damage to hair (or mother-daughter relationship :yes: ) and she was able to do it herself. It looked great, and with a run of 14 shows, it lessened some of the Nut craziness!!


Good luck to you, whatever route you take (or the AD requires!)

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My best advice is GO FOR THE HAIR PIECE!! It really is SO much easier & the audience will not be able to tell the difference!


At our old studio, all the party girls and Clara wore the hair piece curls over a bun. Honestly, I went the cheap route on those and it worked fine. My 10yo is Clara this year and we are only doing Act II. The director wants some hair up, most down and curly. I don't think I'm going to have a choice but to curl the hair. I was planning to use hot rollers. I don't see anyone suggesting that though. I guess I need to go ahead and try it now to see if it is going to work. :yes:

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When my DDs were party girls, our company let them wear hairpieces with a bun hidden underneath. The effect was almost like a high, curly pony tail since the curls all came from the top where the bow was, and a few were pinned to their heads to keep them somewhat down during all the jumping, etc.


At DD's new school, I understand they wear the half-pony some have described. For those recommending a hair piece, how do you accomplish the "down" part of that look? The curls link that was posted has a short hairpiece that is full looking--I wonder if this would do it?



(KellyeS, I think we were posting at the same time!)

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Which ever method you use....remember at the end of the 3 or 4 days after no washing and tons of jel and spray.... have your DD's wash their hair with shampoo, then a mixture of baking soda and water (it gets out the super thick build up) and then shampoo again.

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A couple of weeks before our 7 performance run of the Nutcracker, my daughter was told by her Artistic director that she would need to have extensions put in her hair because it was too short and thin. After fainting at the cost of these extensions :sweating: I ran around looking for an alternative; everything from a full wig to a fall. I came across a kiosk in our local mall that sold hair pieces. We found this incredible curly hair piece that had wire in it and was connected to a rubber band.. The owner just took her hair and put it in an "alice" and then attached this piece to the pony tail and bent the ends over the top. It was perfect and so easy :sweating: The real miracle, however, was that my dd has red hair and it was a great match! She was able to do it all herself and everyone thought it was her hair. Problem solved and it didn't break the bank :D I think there are alot of inexpensive and simple but effective options out there now that didn't exist before. Good luck!

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Thank you for all your suggestions. The AD doesn't want fake hair. We are doing a test run tonight with the got2b glued spray. I'll report tomorrow :D

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dressage, the got2bglued spray didn't provide enough holding power for my daughter's hair alone. We needed the dippity do first, then used a freezing spray (there are several that will work) as we unwound each curl. Alone, the freezing spray couldn't hold the heavy hair in the tight ringlet our AD wanted, throughout a performance. However, for some with finer hair, the freezing spray worked fine as a setting gel. So, best of luck to you.


It is easy to spend quite a bundle on styling products, until you find the right combination, if you are dealing with a more 'challenging' hair type. :D

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We found much better hold with hair NOT freshly washed. After years of gel and dippity-do and hairspray, we discovered setting lotion at the beauty supply store. After two girsl and YEARS of curls, this setting lotion is great. It comes in little bottles, but a little goes a long way. We would use a few bottles a head. We used it on DRY hair, used it to "wet" the hair, and then spritzed it on more as we went. Used perm papers on the ends, and then rolled it up. For DD1 who has thick hair we used the long foam noodle like rollers that bend upon themselves, and the ringlets were perfect. For DD2 who has rather thin hair, we used smaller noodles or foam. One year we found WONDERFUL ringlets on a cinch like bun cover, and hair went in a bun and the ringlets cinched on tight-would never fall off. We did half up in bun half down, with the half down in ringlets and the half up covered by the artificial ringlets. AD loved it, as it doubled the amount of hair and looked natural. They were very inexpensive and solds as "cheer" ringlets.

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My Dd is 15 now, but I had to chime in. My Dd has long, thick hair as well. Even hot rollers curls just ###### out after a few hours. Here's what we did and it went so well that I now have to do party girl hair consults at the studio. Mixed blessing.


Put clean hair in a half pony (or whatever final configuration you want). Put a big glob of extra strength hair gel on a paper plate and get started. Take a small section on hair and put a light layer of gel on the section with your fingers. Too much gel will not dry thoroughly so this take s a little bit of experimentation. The perm end papers are a good idea if you have uneven ends. We then used Remington Twisters hot curlers. They are a rubbery hot curler that we bought at Target. Wait until they are completely dry. Untwist the curlers carefully in a vertical direction without pulling on the curl too much. Spray the curls lightly with heavy duty hairspray.


I concur with chauffeur, et.al. Do not wash the hair until the end of the run. You can brush the curls out at the end of the day so you don't end up with huge tangles but if you don't wash the hair, it will curl up again in a most miraculous way. Also, you can just mist the hair with water (lightly) to reactivate the gel. You don't have to regoop the sections too much.


Bon chance. Practice makes perfect and she will be a perfect party girl!

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