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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Curling hair for Nutcracker Clara


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Knock knock, since you all seem to have so much performance hair experience, I'm asking here. How was adult women's hair done in that time, and how do I do this to stay up while dancing?

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Adult women would have worn their hair up--in a bun, a chignon, or maybe a French twist kind of arrangement. Hair down was really only appreciated for young girls. I think you are in luck on this one. Perhaps a low bun would look the most authentic.

Edited by KellyeS
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Curl update: The got2be glued spray worked great. I really wet each section, combed and then curled. The curls actually dryed overnight and came out really nice. The AD liked the way they turned out. I just need to use the paper on the ends for a better release from the curler.

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Knock, knock. "Adult/Dream Clara" here. I don't have a mom/best friend who knows about hair, so I have been reading up on how you are doing your daughters' hair. I have to do my own hair, and the AD for our Nut would like my hair like our "Little Clara"'s. She wants it half up, half down, ringlets everywhere. I see that some of you have posted that your daughters have thick hair. So do I, very much so. My questions are: Are any of your daughters curly girls? If my hair is already curly (but not quite enough for our AD :( ), will your methods work for me? Do I need to straighten it first, or should I just start with it wet and combed out? And, do you think I can do what you are doing all by myself? Or do you think I absolutely have to have a friend to help with this? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Inside soloist - Your curly hair will definitely help and you could follow any of the suggestions. You may want to use the endpapers so you have even ends as you roll your hair.DO NOT straighten it first. You have a head start. No pun intended.


It may be easier for you to have help. It depends on how proficient you are with hairstyling and how weary your arms get.

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We had curls down to a science the past two years but this spring DD cut 12 inches off her hair to donate to locks for love. Now her hair is shoulder length. In the past we used rag curls but our first run through with them was a disaster. Thanks to timedancingby's suggestions we had perfect curls this morning. I used a light hair spray before using the curling iron, curled, sprayed with super hold hair spray and bobby pinned the curls up. She wore a hairnet and shower cap to bed. The curls were a little flat this morning and stiff from the hair spray but I gently brushed them out and they have held all day! :(


DD has three performances 3-4 hours away from home. The bus leaves at 6-7 in the morning. I've gone to the performances and helped out back stage the past two years but I didn't want to go to all three performances this year. Now I can curl her hair the night before and send her off without having to worry if the curls will look good.



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insidesoloist, one year our party girl cast had a college-age dancer included (she took over for a young dancer who had to withdraw due to illness). She tried to do the curls herself, but found it rather daunting and difficult---even with step-by-step instructions. She asked one of the experienced 'party-girl' moms to help her and several were happy to help her. Once someone gets use to helping you, it's easier then switching around.


If you feel comfortable asking one of the moms to help you, I'd suggest you do that. Although once the moms get a little experience under our belts, the curling ritual wasn't hard (just tedious), it can be rather difficult to do for your own head. If you simply can't sweet-talk one of the moms into helping you, I'd suggest enlisting one of your buddies. I would also suggest that you do bring your own supplies: sponge rollers, pumping curls or set gel, end papers, hairnet (the sleeping in kind). Even the nicest stage mom gets tired of supplying other dancers---no matter how sweet the dancer.

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Our areas pro company assignes styles to the dancers. It used to always be curls but in recent times it's been some years lots of curls, other years a variety of styles. You see young grade school girls in regular school classrooms decked out in pink foam curlers and hairnets, theres no denying what they are involved with. When when one of my DD's was a party girl, she was assigned curls. She had poker straight, very heavy, very long hair. So, the day before 'hair inspections', we got out the pink spongy rollers and did all we were recommended to do! The right gel, the right hairspray, we followed all the rules. What a disaster, the rollers got stuck in her hair, it was a nightmare! This tiny partygirl crying and screaming in pain as we tried to get these entangeled rollers from her hair. The end result was a ruined head of hair as we had to cut some of the rollers out. After the production the whole head of hair had to be cut, it was very sad! Curls were just not meant for this hair, to this day it won't hold a curl and let me tell you pink rollers have never gone near it since. We actually showed upto the inspection with a totally different style to the one assigned, we just picked one we knew other girls had and went in white knuckling and praying. Not a word was said! Good luck to all you party girl Moms. I look back with fond memories and the nightmare those ringlets truly were for us! I don't know how we managed, not to get into trouble!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Knocking again, just to say thank you! After experimenting with all of your suggestions, we found that the best way to do my hair is also the simplest! I am so happy that all I've got to do is avoid washing my hair for two days before the performance, then curl it while it's dry with a curling iron, and give it a good dose of hairspray. I couldn't be more pleased. Good luck to anyone still experimenting! -is

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I personally agree with the curling iron.


The easiest way to do this is (taught to me by a stylist), aresol hairspray a section and comb, wrap end of hair from the inside of the barrel to the end, so tip of iron is closest to the root...lightly spray again. Wait a few seconds, loosen the curl and pull it strait down, and you have perfect long ringlets. Done right, they last. If neatly sectioned, they can be recurled in a 1/4 of the time for more performances.

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Done right, they last.


On some hair... For very heavy hair, hair spray(even the best freezing variety) and a hot iron simply do not provide enough 'glue' to hold the curl in place for several hours. Even using very small sections of hair didn't work for us on this method. Some hair types require an overnight set and a sticky gel that when dry stiffens the hair so much that the weight doesn't pull it down. Those moms who are rolling pink sponge curlers in the wee hours of the night are envious of those who can dispense with that 'fun' and get the same look just a couple of hours before the show! :)


pasdetrois, the story of your daughter's tangled sponge curlers sounds awful! We had a few that caused some tears as they were taken out, but nothing that rose to your situation! :P For those battling sponge rollers this season, I would caution you to use a rat tail comb to section the hair neatly and be sure you don't get hair from one section attached to a curler next to it. Also, use a small section of hair, rather than a larger one (which is tempting to use less rollers and less time). Then, be very sure you start at the very ends of the hair as you roll the curler. Don't start in the middle and try to wind both ends of the hair, as this will result in tangled hair when you uncurl the rollers. Also, the curlers can be taken apart and the sponge part removed from the curler and this can be very helpful when they do get tangled. But, if the hair is really mixed up and glued down with gel to make it worse, I'm sure it is a nightmare! :thumbsup:


My heart goes out to all who are doing battle with their children's hair this Nutcracker season. I recall chatting with the last year's Clara mom about some hair rolling tips within ear shot of the AD one year. We were talking about all the trials and tribulations of trying to get unruly hair to comply with the prescribed style and how late at night she was up trying to make it work, all the products she had bought, how tired they were each night after a show having to re-roll, etc. We went on for some time, with me offering support and commiserating about the process. A couple of days later, the word came down that that year Clara would not wear tight ringlets, but instead, loose ones with the sides up. It has been that way ever since at that pro company. I'll never know if our conversation had anything to do with the change in a policy that had been the norm for the 15 years that AD had been at the company or not. But, this episode did make me wonder if the ADs, who are so often men and unfamiliar with the realities of getting a variety of types of hair to do the same thing, have any idea the challenges that the Nutcracker ringlets pose for moms? On the other hand, my daughter absolutely loved wearing those ringlets. She felt like it was a badge of honor to get to wear those springy curls and when the change was made at her home company, she said she felt sorry for the Claras who wouldn't get to wear the ringlet hairstyle. :party:


So, while you are rolling hair and muttering under your breath, take heart in knowing that you are creating a happy memory for your child! :hyper:

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Balletbooster, you brought back such a funny memory that I had to share. We bought all kinds of curlers and practiced and practiced. I carefully parted the hair into what seemed like ten thousand sections. When my Dd came backstage after ActI and we went to put her hair up, we realized that there was a curler still securely attached to a section of hair at the nape of her neck. One last perfect curl :wub:


You are so right that this "ordeal" becomes a happy memory. I have almost forgotten the sensation of fingers caked with goopy hair gel. At our studio, there is a long dry spell of glamorous parts after the Clara/party girl role so it was fun to see my stick straight haired Dd enjoy a few days of ringlets.


Happy Nutcracker everyone!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I rarely have occasion to post, but since I have so benefitted from the wisdom of these threads I thought I'd share the results of an experiment I conducted on DD's hair last evening. I did a trial run and tested two methods. DD has straight just-below-shoulder length medium fine hair that curls fairly easily. She'd washed her hair the night before. We tested both the sugar and water (1/2 c. sugar in 1/2 c water boiled to dissolve sugar and cooled) method and the Got2BGlued. With each product, I coated the section of hair till it was wet. I used the smallest barrel foam rollers and rolled half of each row with each product. Then, for a literal blast from the past (and to speed the process) had her sit under her grandmother's hairdryer (the smell of which took me right back to the late 60s and my own first forays into setting/rolling hair!)


The Got2BGlued dried faster than the sugar/water combo. It also resulted in a better textured curled (less straw-like) that held just as tight. However, I will say that the sugar/water worked just fine if there's enough time allowed for thorough drying (and, obviously, it's far more economical)--the texture was a little more crispy, though. Since time is an issue for us, we'll be going with the Got2bGlued.


I also accidently discovered that if you just unsnap and pull the plastic rods out of the foam rollers before you try to unroll the curls from the foam, you can avoid snarling the curl and you can pull the ringlet down much more smoothly--the foam roller just stays there till you gently pull it from the bottom down.


Again, thanks to all for the collective wisdom offered here!

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