05 Oct Dancer Plus Makeup Artist
Nicole Russo is a professional dancer, choreographer, and make up artist and has performed in numerous music videos, choreographed dances for world-renowned artists, and is a well-known makeup specialist for special fx, models, and fashion sets—including Stepforward’s latest shoot!
Highs And Lows
A typical week for Nicole will have her teaching dance, going to four or more auditions, and taking a makeup job for dancers or models on any random day. Her schedule is packed but extremely well-organized—Nicole loves the freedom of running her own life and picking and choosing what she does every week. “Trying to balance two different types of careers in one person’s week is like playing tetris,” Nicole explains. “One day I’m in my audition outfit, done up like I’m in a music video, and the next day I’m wearing jeans and a french terry hoodie to apply makeup to another dancer!” she laughs. Word of mouth has been the best method of marketing for Nicole as she collects clients who use her again and again, counting on her professionalism and talent.
Where She Began
Nicole started learning to dance at the tender age of three, tapping and tip-toeing around a dance studio in her home state of Connecticut and working her way up to being in the companies and performing at dance competitions. By high school she knew that dance was going to be the only thing she ever wanted to do and in order to move on to the next step in her career she had to move out to Los Angeles. Like most parents of artists, Nicole’s mom and dad were worried about her supporting herself in a big city and insisted she enroll in some kind of school to give her a parallel career. With a lifetime of applying dance makeup to herself and others, she knew that the Make Up Designory School in Los Angeles was where she wanted to enroll. In the Fall of 2004 Nicole packed her car in Connecticut and drove west to L.A., graduating from M.U.D. in 2005 and taking the dance and beauty world by storm ever since.
Nicole got her inspiration by watching other people who stay calm but can accomplish a lot. “In LA you have to mentally have to figure out how to do it,” she tells us. “These intense schedules keep the money coming in so we can do our art, which is really what it’s all about.” As far as dancers she looks up to, at the top of her list is Tricia Miranda who has been in the game for a good while and was a dancer who transitioned to a choreographer. Nicole had the privilege to watch her juggle both aspects of her career and was inspired to take on both roles herself, having confidence that she, too, can maintain more than one career simultaneously.
Owning Her Style
Before MUD, Nicole spent all of her time with dancers—most of them were females obsessed with wearing tight clothes in the latest styles—but at MUD Nicole met super stylish women who wore clothes that were a lot roomier and meant to look professional. Nicole attributes much of her success to her professional appearance, honing the skills she learned in school: “At MUD, I learned to appreciate the beauty of feminine clothing that was not skin tight. Not only did it make me feel much more relaxed about my body, it allowed me to explore a stylish, sophisticated side I didn’t know I had.” Choosing an outfit helps Nicole get into the mindset of the day, and learning to represent herself and stay comfortable yet stylish is a big part of the reason she stays booked.