"I used to really dislike dancing. It was just something I did. My mom wanted me to be serious about my academic studies, so she sent me to the Beijing Dance Academy when I was visiting my grandparents in China one summer. The teachers were so strict—I think my mom was hoping they’d scare me out of it or something. But the discipline made training so different than what I was used to in Michigan, and I actually started to work a lot harder. I obviously couldn’t stay in China and drop all my studies so that year, I auditioned for ballet school and got a scholarship to a ballet boarding school in Washington D.C. When I was there, I did a lot of competitions around the world and that’s how I got my job at the Royal Ballet in London. I worked there in London for one year and then moved to Berlin, which is where I live now.
SKIN & BODY
As dancers, we’re quite high maintenance with taking care of our bodies. I know people that take four or five showers a day from working out so much—only rinses, but still. Everyone I know uses body wash with lotion in it so that their skin doesn't completely dry out. It doesn’t really wash off, and your skin still feels like kind of weird and creamy, but it's really good. I use the one by Garnier [ed note: not available in the US]. Deodorant-wise, everyone in Europe uses the spray ones and I can't for the life of me figure out why. They just don’t work for me, I can’t use them. So I’ve been using Dove sticks. Oh, and I am a lip balm nut. I have a ton of Labellos everywhere—by my bed, I have like three in my purse, and I can’t go to sleep without putting lip balm on.
I just started using Proactiv after visiting my sister here in New York. I really needed something for acne—when we're performing, we have to use this creamy stage makeup that's not really great for your skin and makes you breakout like crazy, especially because there are like 50 girls using the same stuff. That's kind of eugh. But the Proactiv seems to work.
Even if I’m too lazy to do my makeup, I have to have eyeliner, mascara, and some sort of lip gloss or lipstick on, or else I’ll look asleep. Also, it’s strange in the ballet studio because you have to stare at yourself the whole time. If you’re quite far from the mirror, you can’t see any of your features unless you take the time to accentuate them. I usually use Covergirl or Maybelline mascara. For eyeliner, I like the felt-tip ones because they're so easy to use. Bobbi Brown's stuff is really easy, too—I started using the Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation after following their YouTube channel. It's all very straightforward because their concealers and foundations come in the same colors, so you don't have to worry about it not blending.
When I lived in London, it was all about getting dolled up to go out. But everyone in Berlin likes to keep it natural. When you go out clubbing, you have to look like you don’t really care, so that’s why I think no one there really does much as far as makeup. I still like to do a dark, vampy lip with Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar or a glittery eye. But you have to look like you’re not trying too hard or they won’t let you in! Everyone just wears sneakers—it’s very strange. If you wear heels to work here, everyone is like ‘Where are you going? Why do you look so nice?’ It’s taken me two years to get over the fact that people will stare at you if you look really nice. But it’s also like, I bought these clothes, and I like them, so I’m going to wear them."
—as told to ITG
Photos by Tom Newton.