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by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Former Ballerina Alison Carroll Talks Dance, Entrepreneurship & Eczema Skincare

There’s something undeniably elegant and ethereal about ballet—and the same can be said about former professional ballerina Alison Carroll.

Born in Gibraltar, the British-Chinese underwent professional ballet training at the New Zealand School of Dance in New Zealand. She danced professionally for almost a decade before leaving the stage in pursuit of entrepreneurship. Together with her co-founder, she set up BalletBody, a programme created to allow anybody with or without experience to experience and learn the art of ballet.

Ahead, we chat with Alison as she talks about what dancing ballet professionally looks like, what led her to start BalletBody, and her skincare routine.

When did you start doing ballet?

I started when I was four years old! 

What was your professional dance career like? Any highlights to share?

It had its ups and downs, like any other job, but I’m so glad I decided from a very young age to pursue ballet professionally. Training is mentally and physically demanding, with plenty of sacrifices to be made, so to me, the highlights of my ballet career would be each time I got to perform on stage. There’s really nothing quite like the feeling of standing on stage and doing what you love. 

What made you decide to quit dancing professionally? Do you miss performing on stage?

I had come to a point where I felt I was ready to stop and move on to the next step in my career. I also wanted to leave on a high without being ‘forced’ to stop by my body telling me it’s too injured to continue. Like a professional football player or Olympian, our bodies do get to a point where we have to say, “Okay, that’s enough now”.

Do I miss performing? No, not really! I’ve closed that chapter in my life now and am so thankful to be able to say I’ve had one long and fruitful career and have moved on to the next. 

What are some of the common questions you get asked about ballet?

“Is your life like the movie Black Swan?” No… It’s nothing like that (laughs). 

What led you to start BalletBody?

My business partner and I felt there was a gap in the industry here for ballet fitness taught by professional ballet dancers so we jumped on it and haven’t looked back since. We wanted to share our love for ballet with adults in a setting where anyone and everyone, regardless of dance experience, could learn ballet without being judged. 

How has your lifestyle changed since you’ve started your own studio? 

Oh, it’s changed tremendously. Having your own business means you don’t switch off ever. In the beginning, I found it extremely challenging to juggle so many things at once and felt overwhelmed easily. With time, I realised going at full steam a hundred per cent of the time just wasn’t sustainable for both my mental and physical well-being so I slowly learnt to take a step back and take things one step at a time. Constantly telling myself that quality over quantity is key. 

Let’s move on to beauty. What’s your approach when it comes to beauty and wellness?

Listen to your body. A good night’s sleep and hydration—be it H2O or skincare—are key for me.

What is a typical skincare routine for you?

A freshly cleansed face is the best canvas to start my skincare regimen. I don’t wear much makeup but always use micellar water to clean off any sunscreen and mascara I have on, followed by a gentle cleanser for my sensitive eczema-prone skin. I like using serums and face masks. Some of my favourite beauty brands include Dr. Barbara Sturm, Future Cosmetics, Sigi Skin and Aesop.

Any skin struggles to share with our readers? How did you overcome them? 

I’ve struggled with eczema on and off in my twenties but when I hit my thirties, my flare-ups became more frequent and aggressive. I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it but I’ve learnt to cope with it and keep flares at bay with the right skincare. I used to always skip moisturising my body as I hated that icky sticky feeling, especially in our humid weather, but I’ve realised for me, keeping my skin hydrated helps lessen flare-ups tremendously. My diet has had to change too; I eat less processed food now and found that that has helped as well. For anyone reading this that is struggling with eczema, don’t give up on your trial and error with finding what works for you!

What is your favourite beauty activity to treat yourself?

A face mask and sleep! I really do treasure every minute of shut-eye I can get.

Who are your beauty icons, past and present?

Past: Audrey Hepburn. I love her timeless beauty and classic style. Grace Kelly is one I adore too. 

Present: Oh there are just too many! In the era of social media, I find myself constantly being inspired by so many women from different walks of life. 

What is the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?

Wear your sunscreen! And no matter how tired you are, always, always, always go to bed with a clean face. 

What’s your fitness regimen like now? Do you follow a diet plan? 

I try and do ballet self-practice every other day and that’s enough for me right now. Teaching keeps me on my toes too, which I love. I don’t follow a specific diet plan but instead, listen to my body and its needs. On days where I have a full schedule, I try and eat cleaner and save the indulging for days where I get to chill. 

What are your goals in the future? What are you working towards?

I’m trying not to think too far into the future right now because who knows what can happen five years down the road? With the pandemic, things have been changing for the business on a weekly basis almost so it’s a lot of action and reaction with not much room for planning. Fingers crossed things will get better soon! My goal is to keep BalletBody going and growing. We have a great team and community and I’m eternally grateful for that. 

Allison’s Beauty Picks

Sigi Skin Morning Glow Physical Sunscreen, SGD64
Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask, SGD155
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum, SGD110
Oumere The Eye Serum, SGD235
Future Cosmetics Beauty Drops No. 1, SGD65
Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment, SGD47
Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, SGD51

If you liked Allison’s story, there’s plenty more to come. Hit that ‘Sign Up’ button at the bottom to receive the latest updates.