How-Tos > Hair > Backstage Secrets from the “Dancing with the Stars” Tour
Last updated: March 05, 2009

Backstage Secrets from the “Dancing with the Stars” Tour

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Backstage Secrets from the “Dancing with the Stars” Tour

Ever since Dancing with the Stars hit the ABC airwaves, primetime TV has never been the same. It’s full of celebs decked out in glittery frocks and styled to perfection so not a single hair is out of place during their entertaining dance numbers. The show’s 40-city live US and Canadian tour is no different. For the tour, hair department head Russell Latham and hairstylist Robert Wilson kept the stars stage ready using White Sands products. Here are the how-tos for some of their favorite looks, plus some “secrets” from Latham on what it was like working on the road.


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    Step 1. Blow dry clean hair with a spritz of White Sands Liquid Texture Medium Hold. 
    Step 2. Shape tresses into your desired curl pattern and set with a curling iron, using more Liquid Texture Medium Hold as needed. Clip into place until cooled.
    Step 3. Remove the clips and tease hair at the root.
    Step 4. Finger brush curls to create gorgeous waves. Secure with White Sands Infinity Hair Spray.
    Step 5. For the tour, the hair team kept the look locked firmly in place with a spritz of White Sands Stuck Up. “You have to lock-in those hairstyles for the tour, and they have to look good sideways and upside-down,” says Latham.

    Behind the scenes with Russell Latham
    BTC: What is the routine like before the show begins?
    For the National Tour we only have two hairstylists and two makeup artists, factored in with only 30 minutes to get all the dancers ready! Hairpieces and wigs are prepped early in the day after we’re all loaded in and unpacked, but at 4:00pm it’s just jamming out the hair and makeup! If there is color, cutting or extension work to be done or maintained it has to be scheduled to start at noon. Once the show has started and we’re moved backstage, with the exception of the quick changes there is a wee bit of breathing room, unless there’s a hair emergency! The work we pull off on the tour amazed even me. It’s just go, go, GO, GOOOOO!!

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    Step 1. Matlin wore a wig for her Marilyn Monroe performance, so the team first had to wash and cut the wig into the desired shape.
    Step 2. Wet-set with Liquid Texture Medium Hold and dry under a bonnet hairdryer.
    Step 3. Remove curlers and tease slightly into the desired shape (in this case, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic shape).
    Step 4. Finish with Infinity Hairspray.
    Step 5. During the tour, the wig was placed back into Velcro curlers between each performance to keep its perfect shape. (It lasted easily through 38 shows!)

    Behind the Scenes with Russell Latham
    BTC: How soon do you have each dancer’s look planned out before the show?
    For this DWTS Winter ’08/’09 Tour, we started prepping and meeting with everyone as soon as we could. In the month before the buses left we met with all of the stars and television pro dancers and came up with what the basic look for each person would be.

    Basically, there was one primary look for the pro television dancers. For the celebrities, Marlee Matlin had her basic look plus her Marilyn Monroe look. Toni Braxton had three looks. Most of this was sorted out by the time the buses left for San Diego, where our first show was.

    But since this is a live performance show there were some changes. We had to treat the concept and styling of the DWTS National Tour more like theatre  than television. I originally started out in theatre as a wigmaster, so that experience came in handy for this tour. This experience was truly a magnificent adventure, like none I’ve had before in all my years of being a department head!

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    Step 1. Lightly spray clean hair with Liquid Texture Medium Hold and blow dried straight. 
    Step 2. Spray with Infinity Hairspray then flat iron to remove frizz and create shine.
    Step 3. Rub a small amount of White Sands Smudge between the hands and run through the hair to help keep it straight, shiny, and full of movement. 
    Step 4. On set, Stuck Up was added to the front portion of the dancers’ hair to keep it from falling in their faces as they danced.

    Behind the Scenes with Russell Latham
    BTC:  What is your favorite part about working on a tour like DWTS?
    As with almost every show I’ve worked on, the greatest thing is the relationships you build during that time together. With the DWTS Tour, we’re together almost 24/7 doing one-night only shows in 38 cities across the USA and Canada in just over 2 months–you tend to form really strong bonds. It’s truly about the people for me.

    BTC: And what is the most difficult part?
    NOT being in a studio with a controlled environment. There are no formal hair and makeup rooms and there are only two hairstylists including myself! Every day you arrive on the buses in a new city (at a huge new venue/arena which generally caters to sporting events) and load your entire hair and makeup room into basically a locker room, then set up that locker room to function as a hair and makeup room. Without fail, as soon as the stars and dancers start coming in for their hair and makeup calls, done in 30-minute intervals, you inevitably blow out the electrical circuits when you get both blow dyers going!