When you picture a ballerina, chances are your mind will settle on a classic stereotype: Stick thin, white, quiet. Georgina Pazcoguin wants to change that. Pazcoguin, who has been a dancer in The New York City Ballet since 2001, has made a name for herself as the “Rogue Ballerina,” and challenges every stereotype about the profession. She’s funny, outspoken, and as the NYCB’s first Asian American woman to be promoted to an upper tier, is a founding member of Final Bow For Yellowface.
Pazcoguin has also been open about the darker aspects of the ballet industry, which she details in her memoir Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina, out July 27. “I’m so excited to share my my story,” she tells me over Zoom. “I touch upon a lot of women’s issues and being a sort of outlier in the world of ballet. You’ve talked to me now for 30 minutes, I am not the quintessential idea of what a ballerina is. I’m not super dainty, I just don’t subscribe to those norms.”
“I want everyone to know that ballet should be a vehicle to tell stories through different lens, and it’s truly for everyone,” she continues. “I want to break down this idea that all ballerinas have eating disorders and daddy issues. I want to break down the idea that you have to be a person of a certain social standing to come to the ballet. I also want people to know who these dancers are on stage.”
While it’s clear she lives her life without abandon, when it comes to makeup and skin care, Pazcoguin has to err on the side of caution. She’s always had sensitive skin and eczema, but her company-issued stage makeup broke her out in a rash during a particular stressful leading role. “I think whatever we were using I had been allergic to, compounded with stress, and I had these boils on my face, it was terrifying,” she says. That lead her down the path of scrutinizing ingredient lists, and after two years of intense research—and a 20 page list of ingredients to avoid—she’s finally settled on a stage makeup and skin care routine that doesn’t irritate her skin.
Though she needs her skin care to be gentle on her skin, she still needs powerful products, especially when it comes to cleansing—in addition to her standard ballet makeup, Pazcoguin was in Cats on Broadway, where she was in full-on cat makeup five nights a week. So what made the cut? Pazcoguin reveals the “high-brow, low-brow” products she can’t get enough of. Read on as she drops her routine.
It depends on if I’m in a performance season or if in my every day, but generally in the morning, I use the Aesop Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser. It has lavender, chamomile, and a white clay that’s very soothing to my skin in the morning. If I’m cleansing post-show, I’ll remove the heavier makeup with an organic coconut oil which I’m currently in the process of finding a sustainable option—I’ve been thinking about where I should be putting my money to support the right people. And then what I have found is that the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water has been really great to help remove some of that the waterproof mascara and stuff like that.
I’m a huge fan of the Thayers Witch Hazel as a toner, always have been, especially when it comes to post-show, when the skin is just raw. For a splurge— because I’m here in California right now and I’m not in my home, and I’m needing things to kind of make me feel a little bit pampered— I’ve been using the Aesop B & Tea Balancing Toner, which obviously has a little bit more for fragrance, it just feels a little bit more luxurious. And you know, if I’m spending this much time away from home, I feel like it’s a nice gift to myself. I use both of those morning and night.
This is a new addition. There was a shift in my lifestyle when the pandemic hit, clearly I could not be performing every night. And then all of a sudden, I didn’t have to put on this crazy makeup every night. And that’s when I was like, Oh, well, maybe I can look at this in a different way. And I went to my friends at Aesop and I got the Lucent Facial Concentrate, and I really, really love it, it has rose petals in it. I’ll do that in the morning, and then every opposite morning I’ve been doing Aesop’s Parsley Seed Antioxidant eye serum. She is getting older, and espeically when I go out drinking, the next morning that definitely helps with puffiness.
My face oil:
I also use the Aesop Damascan Rose Facial Treatment. It’s a thicker oil that I will apply before I get on the plane. It’s also great for L.A. weather, when I’m in the sun. It’s a very, very restorative moisturizer, I use it when my skin needs a little extra love. It’s my saving grace. When it gets really cold, like the first hit of cold in New York, that’s when I use it.
Moisturizer is one thing I am dedicated to because of the eczema. In terms of my face moisturizer, my love of all time is the Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream. It’s also got the chamomile bud in it, which is so calming. The theme is just like, Calm down skin. And then, like when it gets super hot and humid, and I don’t want to put on a thick cream, I use Aesop Seeking Silence, and it’s very, very light. That’s just enough, especially since I’m putting on SPF too.
My body lotion:
I stick to the highbrow for my face, that’s like the splurge. But for the body, I find that the Vanicream light lotion is perfect. It’s so wonderful. And you can use the Vanicream on your face, it’s all purpose. If I need more, or if I had like a sunburn or something, I’ll get out the organic shea butter and kind of mix that into the lotion and make my own.