MAKING UP THE CIRQUE TEAM
SHANDIEN Larance may have known how to apply eyeliner and mascara but she had much to learn about stage make-up when she joined the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem in 2011.
Every performer is tasked with applying their own face, following the design created by the company’s make-up designers in Montreal.
“The make-up artist will apply it for you in your first make-up session,” Larance said.
“So they give you a step by step and as you’re learning how to do it they take pictures of your face at every step. Applying the cream is one step, the second base cream is another step and so on until you have a photographic instruction manual.”
Larance, who calls New Mexico home, comes from the Hopi, Navajo, Tewa and Assiniboine tribes and is one of two Native American hoop dancers in Totem.
The show’s original hoop dancer, who has since left, is her older brother and seven times hoop dance world champion Nakotah Larance.
“When I first came to Totem there wasn’t a female character Native American dancer,” she said.
“When Nakotah started they created the makeup for him, but when I came on board they had to give me a feminine look based on my bone structure, so the design was specifically created for my face.”
Performers use MAC and Ben Nye products, including powders to set the make-up and moisturising creams specific to performer’s skin types.
“We travel with everything so the cabinet is always full of make-up,” Larance said.
“You open it up and it’s like a candy shop.”
Larance said she had managed to cut an hour off the time it originally took to apply and now clocked in at an hour and a half.
“People know not to disturb you and it’s your time to be in your own mind, become calm, focus and it puts you into your character,” she said.
“I feel like a totally different person as soon as I put on my make-up.”
Larance is back with Totem for the Perth season after four months at home recovering from a foot fracture.
“It was a minor fracture but because it’s a bone it took time to heal and my doctors were very cautious,” she said.
“Being home for a solid four months was so good for me because I was with my family, my earth, my animals, my songs, my dances, my elders and my language.
“When you first come on tour people tell you not to forget where you come from or who you are and I almost felt like I really did forget what I loved about myself and who I was before I came here.
“Then at the end I said I was ready to go home, as in Cirque, because this is my second home and my second family.”
View our Totem photo gallery and behind-the-scenes time-lapse video of Larance preparing for a show at www.communitynews.com.au.
Shandien Larance, hoop dancer from Totem, applies make-up backstage.