DANCER, CHOREOGRAPHER, INSTRUCTOR

Sarita Allen, 60

Serucell User Since October 2019

“You can’t be young forever and every phase of life has its pros and cons. You must learn to gracefully let go of the things of youth.”

Sarita Allen is an accomplished, world-renowned dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She was Alvin’s muse for many years and became his inspiration for numerous classic ballets.

As part of Alvin Ailey, Sarita performed at The Paris Opera, the Acropolis, the Great Pyramids of Giza, The Kennedy Center, and at the White House for two Presidents. Today, Sarita lives in Harlem and is an Ailey Ambassador, an Ailey Barre and Pilates instructor, the Artistic Advisor for Complexions Contemporary Ballet—and she designed and implemented the Pilates Program for Warner Media (HBO, CNN). 

We spoke with her three months into stay-at-home orders in New York, and she said she’d pivoted to teaching Zoom classes for Alvin Ailey, HBO and some personal clients. Although she misses seeing her friends and clients in person, virtual teaching has been a surprising revelation. “It has eliminated the stress of commuting to my clients all over the city. Before the COVID-19 crisis, I was thinking about ways to slow down to reduce the physical impact of all that travel. Virtual teaching may provide more balance for me in the future,” she says.

On becoming an instructor

“As a dancer, I was greatly influenced by the work of Kathy Grant, one of only two people Mr. Pilates certified himself. I became her protege. She took me under her wing and taught me first hand her unique way of interpreting the work. I believe that the Pilates training I did with Kathy is one of the reasons I had such an illustrious career; she helped keep me from getting injured. She said, ‘I’m going to make you strong enough to withstand any tour.’ I also shared the work with my fellow Company members during the dance season so naturally, as my dance career transitioned, so did my teaching skills.”

What she does in her downtime

“Pre-COVID, I loved going to the theater, to museums. I also love music—especially Jazz and the opera. Since we’ve had to stay at home in New York for so many months, I’ve had time to connect with friends—and reconnect with old friends.  I’ve really enjoyed virtual Friday night dinners with friends, taking continuing education workshops online and doing guided meditations. And I’ve watched a fair amount of Netflix!”

Three ways she’d describe herself

“Caring. Humble to a fault. Sensitive.”

What has surprised her about aging—in a good way

“It matters more to me that I am inspiring to my students and treat them with respect. I try to be mindful of what I am saying and how I am saying it. I want to apologize less and instead learn to put myself in someone else’s shoes and treat them as I’d want to be treated.”  

What has surprised her about aging—in a not-so-good way

“As a person who has always been very physical, it’s humbling to age. I don’t expect to still be doing the leaps and jumps I did as a dancer. But my hips aren’t great now and they do limit my physical abilities, which is hard for me to accept.”

Who she thinks is aging well

“Dancer Carmen de Lavallade, who is close to 90 and looks amazing. She has been in show business her whole life: movies, Broadway—she received the Kennedy Center Honors Award in 2017. An example of elegance and always the best-dressed person in the room, she has managed to remain healthy and fit, and, not only is she gracious and humble, but also speaks so eloquently. I admire how she treats other people and her strong work ethic. A beautiful example of our legacy as dancers and humans.”

Her approach to skincare

“I’m really, really lazy when it comes to skincare. I’ve only had three or four facials in my whole life, and I’ve never had any kind of procedure in a dermatologist’s office. I like skincare products but I keep my routine very basic. I wash my face and take off my makeup with an Eve Lom cleanser, and I use Serucell. That’s pretty much it.”

What Serucell has done for her skin

“I’ve definitely seen a difference. There was a time when I would never leave the house without makeup. But since I started using Serucell, I really don’t need it. My skin looks fresh and clear. I comfortably go to the gym or to teach, and may just apply a little lip gloss and blush and I’m good to go.”

Her haircare secret

“I color my hair blonde so the struggle is to find a way to keep it hydrated and prevent fuzz. I think I’ve finally found the right cocktail of products from Taraji P. Henson’s line TPH.”

The makeup she’d hate to live without

“Anything Tom Ford. His foundations and lipsticks are the best. I wear Tom Ford Lip Color in Casablanca and it stays on forever—whether I’m teaching or out for the night.”

Her aging-well strategy

“I’m trying to strike a balance. I recently went through my closet and purged the clothes I kept telling myself I would fit into again. I want to be healthy, look good, but put aside that desire to be skinny. Weight changes as we age. It’s more important to be healthy. For me, that means exercising because it makes me feel better. But it goes deeper than that. Sometimes it hurts to move but it’s worse if you do nothing. I believe sitting up and trying, you will feel better. It’s also harder to feel sad when you’re up and moving. You can’t be young forever and every phase of life has its pros and cons. You must learn to gracefully let go of the things of youth.”

“There was a time when I would never leave the house without makeup. But since I started using Serucell, I really don’t need it. My skin looks fresh and clear. I comfortably go to the gym or to teach, and may just apply a little lip gloss and blush and I’m good to go.”