Monthly Archives: October 2016

5 next-generation makeup artists on making it in beauty

Kanako Takase
Since moving from Tokyo to New York at 22, Kanako Takase’s career has only shot upwards. After interning for Pat McGrath, she started to mine her own individual style, mixing mediums and crafting painterly, colorful beauty looks that experiment with everything from grunge motifs to face jewels. The most important thing, she says, is “not to be afraid of going opposite to ‘trend’ when you have a chance to explore,” especially when the looks are being created for people she trusts. Takase adds, “I started my own career this year after four years of working with Yadim” – for whom she worked as a first assistant – “and I just feel blessed by what’s been happening around me so far.” In a short time, she’s managed to work with Chloë Sevigny, Julia Cumming, and Daria Werbowy and brands including Hermès, Diesel, and Topshop. Takase is ever-modest, though, adding cheerfully and rather poetically, “I’m looking forward to working with people who can push me out from my comfort zone and meet the new version of me.”

After over a decade in the industry, NYC-based makeup artist Ingeborg has worked with everyone from Chanel Iman to Dounia Tazi for a variety of major publications. Recently, she created Zosia Mamet’s look for i-D’s Female Gaze Issue. She says of the industry, “You really, really have to absolutely love people to do this, as you are so close to them (literally) on a daily basis,” adding, “thankfully, I love people!” For Ingeborg, those people include the likes of designer Matthew Adams Dolan – a Rihanna favorite – with whom she just worked on a lookbook and film. “All the talent was locally streetcast, something I really enjoy,” she says of the models discovered in the deep south. “I love working with large groups of talent, and unexpected situations really bring out the best in me,” she explains. “I also have one particular [person] on my radar right now, Isabelle Hupert. She just did a play at BAM and I think she is the ultimate chameleon, the ultimate transformer.” She elaborates that having a muse over several years “and really digging deep” into the relationship would be a dream. Finding that muse shouldn’t be hard since Ingeborg is already teaming up with some of the world’s brightest up-and-coming talent – whether that’s for Kenzo campaigns or emerging New York brand Vaquera’s runway shows. Ingeborg says it’s all about collaboration, finding “teams of people [she] genuinely love[s].”

Allie Smith
Allie Smith is becoming a major creative force in the beauty world, working with virtually every youth fashion publication, i-D included. She’s created dewy complexions for an Opening Ceremony x Jacquemus lookbook, given Iris Apfel a red lip for & Other Stories, and painted otherworldly sapphire eyeshadow on St. Vincent’s Annie Clark. Fresh off the NYFW train – it’s only her second season working shows as a key makeup artist – she’s now focused on a beauty story with photographer Mark Lim, “inspired by politics.” Aside from Lim, whom she calls a personal favorite, Smith dreams of working with heroes like Cass Bird, Meryl Streep, Carrie Brownstein, Proenza Schouler, and hair superstar Holli Smith. To get where she is now, Smith says, she’s had to learn “to not be afraid of fucking up and remain open-minded” and to “push through the initial discomfort of doing something off or ‘wrong.'” At the same time, she says, “there are always gigs or opportunities that come up that make you feel like you’re onto something good, which is really gratifying.”

Phoebe Walters
In a few short years, Phoebe Walters has built an impressive resumé that includes editorials in Italian Vogue and shows at London and Paris fashion weeks. Her simple yet genius experimentation with curls of hair and string have also found themselves on the pages of DIY publications like Aesthetic Zine. While painting faces for the Gucci, Ashish, and Phiney Pet spring/summer 17 runway shows this month (often in assistance to Isamaya Ffrench), Walters revealed that she is also currently working on a personal project. “I have always had an interest in looking at color and the relationship color has with the person viewing it,” she explains. “I would like to collaborate with lots of different artists.” Her dream creative conspirator is photographer Mark Borthwick, whom Walters says she admires for his work with Margiela. For now, Walters continues to perfect her craft through assisting and collaborating. She says the most important lesson she’s learned is the necessity of having confidence in one’s work. “If [speaking out on the job] doesn’t work, that’s fine,” she says. “But at least you won’t regret not saying it!”Emi Kaneko
Emi Kaneko is not exactly a newcomer, but she is a true innovator in the beauty industry. Her creative mind and diverse experience have led her to craft sleek, fashion-forward makeup looks for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns. Kaneko says her priority is to always keep inventing. “I think it’s very easy to take a look you’ve seen on the internet and replicate it, especially now,” she explains. “It’s like buying the cheap knock-off version. But the process of coming up with an original concept is like finding a real gem at a bad vintage stop. It’s so rewarding.” Fresh out of NYFW, Kaneko says she has plenty of ideas brewing, and while she continues to to push new concepts she likes to remind herself, “even if it doesn’t work, it’s just makeup. I can take it right off.” In the future, Kaneko would love to work with Rihanna, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Yayoi Kusama. But she notes that she’s already working with incredible people: “the other day, I got to work with a full female dream team. It was amazing because I felt like it brought a different perspective and energy to the shoot.”

Emi Kaneko
Emi Kaneko is not exactly a newcomer, but she is a true innovator in the beauty industry. Her creative mind and diverse experience have led her to craft sleek, fashion-forward makeup looks for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns. Kaneko says her priority is to always keep inventing. “I think it’s very easy to take a look you’ve seen on the internet and replicate it, especially now,” she explains. “It’s like buying the cheap knock-off version. But the process of coming up with an original concept is like finding a real gem at a bad vintage stop. It’s so rewarding.” Fresh out of NYFW, Kaneko says she has plenty of ideas brewing, and while she continues to to push new concepts she likes to remind herself, “even if it doesn’t work, it’s just makeup. I can take it right off.” In the future, Kaneko would love to work with Rihanna, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Yayoi Kusama. But she notes that she’s already working with incredible people: “the other day, I got to work with a full female dream team. It was amazing because I felt like it brought a different perspective and energy to the shoot.”

Misty Copeland In American Ballet Theatre History

History was made in the ballet world this week when soloist Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer, thereby becoming the first black female principal in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theatre.

Copeland, now 32 years old, has been dancing with the American Ballet Theatre for over 14 years, nearly eight as a soloist. Most recently, she starred as Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” at the Met, a role dance critic Alastair Macaulay called “the most epic role in world ballet.“

Copeland’s name is known far beyond the traditional confines of the ballet world, in part due to her emphatic openness regarding the problematic relationship between race and ballet. As Elizabeth Blair explained on NPR: “It’s hard for any ballet dancer to succeed, regardless of race, but a black dancer is up against a centuries-old aesthetic — the idea, for example, that the swan must be feather-weight and snow white, and so does her prince.”

Copeland’s rise to fame, despite the centuries of tradition working against her, has served as an inspiration for young dancers who don’t fit the mold around the world. During “Swan Lake,” she repeatedly experienced cheers so intense they stopped the show, according to The New York Times. The ballerina is also the author of an illustrated children’s book and a memoir, both elaborating on her journey overcoming the odds to pursue her passion.

Copeland grew up in San Pedro, California, and took her first ballet classes for free at the Boys & Girls Club in the neighborhood. At the time, her family was living in a motel, part of a personal narrative that strays greatly from the traditional tale of a young ballerina. Copeland has said that she always hoped to rise to the level of principal, the highest status in a company. “My fears are that it could be another two decades before another black woman is in the position that I hold with an elite ballet company,” she explains in her memoir. “That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”

Arthur Mitchell was the first African-American dancer to become a principal dancer, breaking grounds at the New York City Ballet in 1962. Years later in 1990, Lauren Anderson became the first African-American principal at the Houston Ballet. Anderson, along with Raven Wilkinson, a dancer and mentor of Copeland’s, handed her bouquets on stage following her recent “Swan” performance.

There has never before been a female black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, until now. “Seven amazing dancers from American Ballet Theatre were promoted today,” Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director of the American Ballet Theatre explained in an email to the Huffington Post. “Each has demonstrated the talent and hard work needed to succeed in a highly competitive environment. I couldn’t be prouder.” We reached out to Misty Copeland for comment and have yet to hear back.

“I never saw a ballerina who looked like me before,” Copeland has said. “And I’m here to be a vessel for all these brown ballerinas who have come before me.”

Congratulations, Misty, on a historical accomplishment, one that is sure to shape the future of ballet’s diversity in ways we can only imagine.

No One Ever Told You About Being a Dancer

To watch Gemma Freitas soar and spin across the stage, it’s easy to think that all aspects of dance must come naturally to the Juilliard senior. But while her raw talent and performer personality were obvious from the get-go, grace didn’t always come quite so easily. “When I was younger,” she says, “I was not the most physically blessed with technique. I was kind of pigeon toed, and a bit chubby. But I had so much personality, and I loved putting on shows—being in front of people and telling stories.”

And no wonder—dance is, after all, in Gemma’s bones. The daughter of a ballerina, she trained in jazz, hip-hop, and acrobatics before eventually turning her focus to ballet as a teen. “I knew a performance career was something I wanted,” she shares. Yet, when it came time to audition for Juilliard, she attended tryouts without believing she had a real chance of getting in. “I never thought it would happen. When I got the call saying I was accepted, I just fell to the ground.”

For the last several years, Gemma has been rigorously training to enter the professional dance world—sometimes up to 12 hours a day, for weeks at a time. As she gears up for her final months in the program, the recent Princess Grace Foundation scholarship recipient took time out of her performance and class schedule to chat with Teen Vogue, shed light on lessons she’s learned along the way, and share ten things fans might not know about what life as a dancer is really like (“It’s not all tutus,” she says, laughing). Read on to get Gemma’s insider scoop and learn more about one of our favorite rising dance stars.

1. All that time onstage and in the studio takes a serious toll on your toes. Gemma admits that dance feet aren’t always lovely to look at. “Dancers’ feet are beautiful because of how much work they do for us,” she says, but “depending upon the style of dance different problems arise: With pointe work and ballet, corns, bunions, and blisters are very common. In modern, dancers are oftentimes barefoot which allows for floor burns and toe splits.” Yikes!

2. It requires a lot to healthfully fuel a dance body on the food front. Over the course of her training, Gemma has come to truly understand what she needs nutritionally to literally spring into action. “The body needs protein!” she emphasizes. “I love to eat a big breakfast before class. It really helps me to wake up and fuels me for the start of my day.” She’s also a snacker—her fave picks include nuts, hummus, fruit, quinoa, and granola—and likes to wrap the evening with a big salad. Before bed, she’s partial to tea (extra points for anti-inflammatory properties like ginger or turmeric!) plus a treat. “I love sweets, so I will have a snack like dark chocolate and peanut butter waiting for me at the end of the day!”

3. Training for a show literally takes up all of your time. Since she’s still a student, Gemma goes to class on top of rehearsal—but the work doesn’t stop there. “Tending to the body is incredibly important, and self-care outside of the studio is a necessity,” she says. That means that even when she’s not dancing, she’s rolling out her muscles, warming up, cooling down, cross-training, and even scheduling sleep time (yes, that includes power naps) to whip her body into shape for a performance. During these stretches, everything a dancer does is about preparing. “We have to take care of our bodies,” she explains, or else run the risk of compromising all the hard work that went into prepping for a performance.

4. Dance education isn’t all leotards and studio time. “We have so many workshops about writing the proper bio and resumé,” explains Gemma. Performers—like anyone else hustling for their dream job—have to have the skills to pitch themselves. “When you’re in a company, you’re under that umbrella. But when you want to freelance, or get gigs on the side, you are your own manager.” And that means thinking like an agent and working on behalf of yourself, from social media to advanced education and networking.

5. Technology plays a key role in a dancer’s life. Dance is an art, but it is also a business—one that requires a lot more than being a beautiful performer of a great technician, Gemma adds. “We have to be ready to promote our art form. With technology being so prominent now, the importance of developing a website, being involved in social media, and marketing yourself is essential.” In other words, the overlap between a young dancer starting out and being a newly-hired start-up employee is greater than you might think: In both cases, “being personable and friendly—being willing to meet people—taking interest in other artists’ work, supporting the projects of others, and enjoying and sharing what you do with the community will allow for the possibilities of growing and making connections with others you will, at some point cross paths with again.” Couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

6. Ballerinas hang up their pointe shoes in school sometimes. Gemma kicked off her early education away from the barre, learning different dance techniques, and continues to hone other areas of her craft at school. “At Juilliard, we are so fortunate to have such a wide range of classes that tap into all aspects of the industry. Along with the core curriculum ballet, classical/contemporary partnering, and all the various modern dance techniques, we take anatomy and kinesiology, music theory, acting, voice lessons, elements of performing, composition, and stagecraft…” Suffice to say, she’s got a full, well-rounded training schedule that would well lend itself to other areas of the performance business, from dance therapy to musical theater and more.

7. Performers are their own little support group. Like any career that’s super competitive, you want to know there’s a group of people you can rely on to be supportive, listen, and really get it. Other dancers, says Gemma, “are the ones who can understand what you are going through from the first person point of view.” That said, particularly because ensembles work so closely together, a positive environment often depends on the dynamics of the dancers themselves. “Fostering a healthy work environment between you and your partner (or a large group of people in a piece together) can make all the difference for the outcome of the piece, as well as the performance energy on stage.” Just like most jobs, it’s all about teamwork to pull of a tricky project!

8. Not all dancers are striving to be soloists onstage. When you major in dance at a four-year institution, you’re getting a BFA—and the kind of jobs you could eventually hold go far beyond the stage and studio. “Choreography, teaching, directing, and producing are all options,” as are furthering your performance education into acting and or singing, says Gemma. But she’s also quick to point out that just because you have a dance degree doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue other career paths, like heading back to school for a Masters degree in another discipline at some point. “I think the beauty of a performance career is that each individual lives such a different path: Who you meet and the projects you become involved in can lead to circumstances and opportunities that could never have been predicted.” As for Gemma? “I know that in the future I would love to do dance and horse therapy for the mentally and physically disabled.” (On top of her passion for dance, Gemma is also an equine enthusiast and loves hanging out with horses!)

9. It is possible to earn a scholarship for your dance education. Gemma is living proof: This past year, she received Alexander Moore Bayer Dance Award through the Princess Grace Foundation, an organization that identifies and assists emerging talents in theater, dance, and film through scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships. Starting off in a creative field is rarely easy—and neither is paying for an arts degree. But if you’re studying in the arts field, it is possible to find support and the financial resources to help you succeed. Gemma was honored to be recognized by the organization for all her hard work this year, and grateful for the the contribution to her education. “I am so lucky to be working so hard at something that I love so much. The career is hard and rigorous but if one has the passion for it, it is a remarkable journey.”

10. When it comes to succeeding, the name of the game is dedication—above everything else. To succeed in this industry, you have to choose dance every single day, and “the dedication and work ethic needed to be a dancer are quite extreme,” Gemma admits. Self-discipline and sacrifice are part of the package. Growing up, Gemma would spend 4 to 5 hours at the studio every night. “I couldn’t do many of the things my friends were doing,” she says. But while she hasn’t had a typical adolescent experience, at Juilliard, “I know that I’ve found my niche. I’m constantly stimulated by the artists around me… Although our days are so difficult, and there are many times we get so down on ourselves, I know there is nothing that I would rather be doing.”


Why You Should Never, Ever Listen When Someone Says ‘You Weren’t Born To Do That’

Most people probably pass by Misa Kuranaga without realizing who, exactly, they just overlooked. At 5’1 with a delicate build, Misa blends into the crowded Boston populace.

This woman, who hails from Osaka, Japan and probably weighs less than most American sixth graders, is a principal dancer for the Boston Ballet. And while her stature and size may defy the standards of “ballet beauty,” she is an international success story in the ballet world.

Q: What was it like growing up as a Japanese ballerina?

Misa Kuranaga: As a teenager, I struggled. My body isn’t really the perfect proportion for a ballet dancer. I’m pretty petite — only 5’1 ¾. But I knew I wanted to be a ballerina since I was seven. I never took other lessons, and my whole life was about ballet. I didn’t know anything besides ballet, and it was the only thing I loved.

I won some international competitions when I was a teenager, including a very famous one for young dancers who want to dance in a world famous ballet company. For a Japanese dancer, that is the perfect competition to attend, since everybody wants to dance outside of Japan.

Q: Why is being a ballerina so different in Japan than being one in the U.S.?

Even in Japan, I am considered petite. But there, people didn’t pay attention to height too much. It was really only when I came to the U.S. that I realized I was so small. It’s hard, because Caucasians have more length and height, so they can create a longer illusion.

Some roles you just can’t do because it wasn’t created for you. But thankfully, that’s not how everything is.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a ballerina?

Working hard, and the mentality that goes along with it. Mentally, the profession is hard. Physically it’s hard. Artistically it’s hard. As a ballerina, you have something to improve every day. You are never perfect. Sometimes, I see people performing on stage and even if shape-wise they are perfect, it doesn’t touch my heart.

Q: So what is it about ballet that can touch somebody’s heart?

The willingness of the dancer onstage. For me, that is beauty. That’s why I try to put everything I have into every performance — the audience gets it. They can see it. And that’s powerful and moving. You can feel the energy coming out of that person.

One performance at the Boston Ballet School really touched me. A girl specifically stood out — she wasn’t even doing a solo; she was doing a class demonstration. But the way she was performing onstage was so beautiful; she was giving everything she had for that moment, for those five minutes of demonstration. She wasn’t in the center, or being highlighted by choreography. She stood out because I could feel the energy coming from her.

Q: What contributes to your success?

I have a strong head. Even if I don’t have the most beautiful body for a dancer, I was lucky enough to have every part necessary. I’m able to use my whole body. I feel like I have the inner strength to work hard, and that is the quality that helped me become a ballerina.

Also, my coaches. I am so lucky to have incredible coaches working with me. They shared their hearts, their experiences, and their lives. My current coach, Larissa Ponomarenko, is like a human dictionary, passing on everything she knows. Maina Gielgud is another amazing coach I had. She’s not with Boston Ballet, but she passed on the real romantic style of ballet. I am learning from the best.

Q: As someone who is probably an inspiration to many, what would you tell younger dancers who feel like they have an inherent barrier to becoming professionals?

Everyone is born with something that they struggle with. You need to fight for your own goals, and not somebody else’s standards.