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One word to describe what beauty means to principal ballerina Ako Kondo? “Commitment. Commitment to make things look beautiful and effortless.” And if you’ve ever seen Kondo dance, you’ll know that everything she does on stage is just that: beautiful and incredibly effortless. At 24, Kondo became the first Japanese-born principal ballerina in Australia and admits if she wasn’t a professional dancer she’d like to be a hair or makeup artist. Fitting, given the love she has for beauty and skincare on and off the stage.
For Kondo, beauty comes in many forms (especially as a ballerina)—one of which is her approach to skincare and what it means to have a self-care moment. “Keeping my skin healthy is a priority and maintaining a youthful appearance,” she explains. “It’s [skincare] a very important part of my life and career. When I was a teenager, I suffered from really bad acne—all the while, I still had to put on heavy stage makeup to perform. This experience has taught me how important it is to look after and take a moment my skin.”
Makeup plays a large part in Kondo’s overall personal style and is a big motivator before a performance. “For me, looking after my skin on and off the stage, creating beauty looks and even how I do my hair—it all motivates me for the day and night ahead.” Kondo’s beauty routine for stage is an integral part of her craft. “When performing, I apply heavy stage makeup and how I apply it changes depending on the character I’m performing. But I always apply a distinct eyeliner—and false eyelashes are essential,” she says. But for days in the studio, it’s a lot more pared back. “As a dancer, I build up a lot of resistance, body heat and sweat in the studio for rehearsal—so I cleanse in the morning and keep my face fresh and makeup free,” she says.
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“I start 11.00am for a ballet class and from 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm I have rehearsals. Then I have a lunch break, go home and have a nap. Around 5.30pm, I get to the theatre and apply makeup and style my hair,” Kondo explains. “From 6.30 pm, I warm up at the barre 30 minutes to prepare my body for the show—curtain comes up at 7.30pm. After the show, I ice my legs then get home around 11.00pm,” she adds.
“Putting primer on before applying makeup is really helpful so I don’t sweat too much whilst on stage,” Kondo explains. “I like using a micellar water makeup remover, as it’s very light and gentle on my skin and has helped me (and my skin) get through an eight-show-a-week season.” As for the one foundation that never let’s her down during a performance? “Nars Sheer Glow Foundation.”
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Photography: Ivana Martyn-ZyznikowMakeup artist: Hannah Daniel for MECCAHairstyling: Georgia Ramman
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