Jul/Aug
2016

Ballerina Michaelene Karlen: Dreams Come True

Written by Trish Amundson Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography
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Local girl Michaelene Karlen dances as a professional ballerina on the New York stage and promotes natural wellbeing through organic, holistic skin care that reaches beyond the stage.

Pretty pink tutus, silky pointe shoes, sparkling tiaras—these are what little girls dream of, and for Michaelene Karlen, these dreams came true. With focused dedication, practice, physical stamina and natural dancing ability, Michaelene is living her dream as a contemporary ballet dancer who stays fit by taking care of herself from the inside out.

Embracing Her Calling

Michaelene is from the greater Rochester area, a 2012 graduate of Kasson-Mantorville High School. “I grew up as an only child and have a very strong relationship with my parents,” she says. “My mom drove me hours each day to attend dance classes in Minneapolis and pursue my passion for ballet and other forms of dance. Being a professional dancer was something I always knew was my calling.”

Her parents, who are marathoners, modeled a healthy, take-care-of-yourself lifestyle. Her health-driven upbringing was the basis for Michaelene’s interest in the physical aspect of dance. She went on to attend Fordham University and The Ailey School in New York City, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and communications in May this year.

Balance and Precision

With a pre-graduation schedule as fast-paced as a New York minute, Michaelene balanced her responsibilities as a student, dancer, model and dog owner with great precision. Typical days were busy and long. “I usually wake up at 6 a.m. to take my puppy, Nina, out for a walk in the park before I rush off to dance,” she says. 

A 35-minute commute by train took her to Arch Contemporary Ballet, where she practiced and performed. “I usually had to leave a little early to rush back into the city for academic classes and more rehearsals at The Ailey School,” she says. “Those rehearsals usually would go until 9:30 p.m., and then I would get to go home for the night and rest up for the next day.”

Safe and Holistic Self-care 

The demands of ballet are similar to many athletic pursuits and may result in injuries or inflammation. With a rigorous schedule and strains on physical health, the lifestyle of a dancer requires persistence, strength and the ability to maintain a healthy body.

To address her inflammation and asthma, which were not getting better with prescribed medications, Michaelene and her mother, Michelle, began making their own care products. “My mother and I have made homemade skin care products for ourselves for a long time, and we now use essential oils, cultured foods and a raw diet to treat our bodies,” says Michaelene. “We think of what we put in our bodies as nutrition. We also wanted holistic products that were safe to put on our skin. We could never find simple skin care products in any store that didn't contain parabens, plasticizers and toxic chemicals.” 

Ballerina Botanicals 

Together, the mother-and-daughter team promotes the motto: "Let's nourish your body from the inside out to get timeless skin." The duo shared products with family members and friends and then started selling them. Now, through the recently established Ballerina Botanicals, others can enjoy the benefits of their quality, organic skin care line. The company name represents Michaelene’s profession, as well as her fascination with flowers and herbs. 

With firsthand knowledge of their merchandise, Michaelene handles the public relations and marketing activities for Ballerina Botanicals. Michelle creates and packages the products, which are organic and made with 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Glass containers are used, because the essential oils ingredients are rich and robust and can slowly dissolve plastic. Ingredients are selected based on the purpose of each product. For example, lavender is great for treating acne, and grape seed oil fights the effects of aging. “We come up with our ingredients together, and I love to help make the products whenever I'm back in Minnesota,” says Michaelene.

From Mother Earth Mask to Forever Young Face Wash, Ballerina Botanicals’ products detoxify the skin, leaving it smooth and supple. Other products include Vitamin E Complex Eye Serum, Kiss Me Vanilla Lip Scrub and 12 flavors of Ballerina Lip Balm. Every ingredient is listed, so consumers never have to question what they are applying to their bodies. “Everyone benefits from using our simple, organic and holistic skin care,” says Michaelene. “It will help anyone with skin issues—people who want a natural and safe skin care routine and people who want help with fine lines and wrinkles, both men and women.”

Revitalization for Everyone

The Karlens are true believers that everything has a purpose, not only in what is consumed but also in what is applied to the skin. “It is important to use essential oils in your daily skin care, like we do, to detoxify your body and prevent it from any ailments,” says Michaelene. “Every ingredient we use has a distinct purpose in the product.
Essential oils have become our very own pharmacy and the closest we've come to the Fountain of Youth.”

Ballerina Botanicals’ Fountain of Youth Eye Cream is good for everyone. “You can see where the Ballerina Botanicals’ magic happens,” explains Michaelene. “Fine lines and wrinkles will go away, skin will tighten, dry skin will no longer be a problem and your body will feel revitalized by using our products.”

Feel revitalized, youthful and as beautiful a ballerina as Michaelene. Her dreams came true, and dreams can come true for you.

Ballerina Botanicals products are available on Etsy and are also sold at Thursdays on First and Third in downtown Rochester. Product prices range from $3.99 to $38. 

Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

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