Ballet Stars

Complexions' Resident Fashionista Candy Tong Sports Swimwear in the Studio and Heels on the Street

Quinn Wharton

Candy Tong is Complexions Contemporary Ballet's resident fashionista. "I'm known in this company for bringing too big of a suitcase," she says. Tong shares her style tips (and life on the road with Complexions) on her vlog, Candy Coated, and notes that her style is always changing. "I like to switch up my look depending on my mood or where I'm going to be or what city I'm in."


No matter the outfit, Tong has plenty of shoes to choose from. "Back home in California, I have a closet in my room and one in my garage just for my shoes," she says. "I love anything with a heel because it makes me feel like a girl boss."

In the studio, Tong rarely wears warm-ups, but she doesn't let leotards limit her. "I like to wear swimwear because those designs are usually cooler," Tong says. She completes her look with hair and makeup. "I feel like it transforms you," she says. "I can't live without my Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil, and I love the Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow for a nice glow on the high points of my face."

The Details — Street

Quinn Wharton

Zara top: "I love outfits that can go from day to night, like this bralette and mesh-top combo."

Aqua jacket: "I love the suede and faux detailing—I think it's the perfect transition from winter to spring and even early summer."

Zara pants: "I really enjoy pants with a fun pattern or bright color."

Jeffrey Campbell shoes: "This is my favorite shoe designer," Tong says.

Gucci Dionysus handbag: "I love that the crystal-embellished tiger head is flashy but not too flashy."

The Details — Studio

Quinn Wharton

Custom leotard: Tong's leo was created by Complexions costume designer Christine Darch. "I love a halter neckline," says Tong, "and the high cut with mesh at the hipbone makes my legs look longer."

Freed of London pointe shoes: "I get my shoes triple-shanked with extra glue," Tong says, adding that she does a lot of prep work to get her shoes just right. "I three-quarter my shank, Jet-glue everything, and take out the paper on the inside sole and add patterned duct tape instead because it holds up better. I also darn my shoes and pancake them with the cheapest foundation I can find to match my skin color."

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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