Patricia Zhou, Ballerina


"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.

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.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • LaCienega BouleVardez

    i live in berlin as well and girl u r so right

    • Adrienne Angelos

      Ups for the name. Tell us more about beauty and fashion in Berlin!

      • LaCienega BouleVardez

        just saw this! 6 months later! berlin is all about keeping it casual with an air of subtle glamour. its an eccentric city in terms of style, you can wear a glittery eye or a vamp lip, but you better pair it with jeans or sneakers or its just not gonna work. its rare to see someone wearing heels, but honestly you can wear whatever the f you want!

  • Elien VH

    That skirt is awesome.

  • Lea

    I live in Zürich, it's the same here! I wear what I want anyway. I really thought Berlin where more eccentric fashion wise.

    • K.Raa

      It is, I think - but more neon sneakers and fashion-ugly than heels and glitter. All very calculated cool.

  • Lavang

    She is beautiful! And I love anything ballerina related.

  • Erica Choi

    She is so adorable!

  • thejulia

    Her skin doesn't look as though it has ever heard of the word acne.

  • Sarah Elise

    i LOVE her bangs. And her smile seems so warm and genuine. Wadda beautiful woman

  • Emma Hager

    Berlin is just one of the best cities, ever. Relatively inexpensive (compared to other major cities), "happening" scenes, good food, diverse, etc etc etc

  • Mady

    really enjoyed reading this interview. dunno what it is - the ballet? the fact that she seems so down-to-earth? not based in NYC? More interviews like this one please :)

    • Eliza

      Me too, I loved this one and not really sure why--it's just interesting and different!

  • Jenelle

    Misty Copeland also said recently in an interview that she uses Proactiv so I guess that must be the product of choice for dancers. I used to use Proactiv when I was younger and it definitely worked but it's like my skin got addicted to it or something because if I ever went on vacation and forgot to bring it my skin would break out like crazy.

    • Amelia Molly

      I'm so scared to try Proactiv again after using it as a kid. I'm sure they've reformulated it since then, though. Does anyone know about that?

  • K. Marie

    That whole not caring attitude is very Denmark as well. Like wearing Adidas sneaks and a slouchy black sweater to a club is super cool. You can't look like you tried. Then when I'm in the states its completely different. Ive worn sneakers and black jeans to a club and felt very out of place among a sea of bodycon dresses.

    • corina

      Ugh, yes. I wish being comfortable was the 'cool' thing here - I'd be so awesome! Haha. In FL where I live, everyone wears bodycon mini dresses that barely cover the bum. Cute/sexy once in awhile but WAY, way overplayed in these parts.

    • K.Raa

      Downside being that everyone is wearing the exact same sneakers and sweater, always, all the time. Only difference is whether it is actually Acne, or a COS knock-off. People look good, but it is so boring and so conservative (and soo wealthy). Absolutely stifling.

  • Greentee

    Anyone have any lotion body wash suggestions?

    • chicnoir

      Dove in the blue and white bottle.

      • Greentee


    • Jenelle

      Johnson and Johnson's Baby Moisture Wash is amazing. I picked it up at CVS b/c they were out of my usual Dove wash but I'm hooked and now it's the only thing I buy. It leaves your skin soo soft and moisturized.

    • JY

      The Olay one smells so good.

  • nooneputsbabyinthecorner

    Labello lip balm is the best. I always stock up when I'm in Europe.

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    OMG her face is so cute!

  • Eliza

    Loved this--and totally inspired by the "a dark, vampy lip with a glittery eye"--that sounds so nighttime-perfect.

    Hate Proactiv, though--I used it in high school (the time of such flawless skin...not) and I feel like it makes your skin better for a few months then makes it way worse. I now use Clindamayacin (RX only) and that is magic.

  • Viv

    Love her outfit! Can anybody ID the top and skirt? She's too adorable.

    • Patricia

      top is from necessary clothing in ny! x

  • Lola

    as much as i love New York based Interviews it is nice to Read about stuff i can actually relate to (& More importantly) buy in Europe!

    • coffeetoo


  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    "[ed note: not available in the US]." - um, ITG, you do realise that the internet is a global phenomenon, right?

    Otherwise, great little interview with a phenomenally talented dancer (YouTube her!). Berlin and Barcelona have the exact same approach to beauty and looking 'done', I think - I knew I finally got it right when I wore the same outfit to da club that I wore to walk my dog.

  • Kelsey

    I love her! So excited to see her on ITG :)


Dove Deodorant
Labello Lip Balm
Proactiv Solution
Proactiv Solution 5-piece Kit
CoverGirl LashBlast
CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
Maybelline Great Lash
Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara in Very Black
Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar