Tattooed Ballerina: Alexis Lucena | The official blog for Things&InkStore Dept
24-year-old Alexis Lucena is a performer with Company XIV and recording artist from Long Island, New York. We chatted to Lexxe about her performances, how her tattoos mix with ballet and her future plans…
How long have you been dancing and singing? I think whenever music was on I had the itch to move to it from a very young age. My mom put me into dance when I was about three. I joined a professional academy when I was seven, stayed until graduating high school, then went on to get my BFA from the Purchase Conservatory. Singing was always indulgent for me, and ballet took up all my time. I played classical French horn for about 11 years in grade school. I taught myself guitar so I could sing along to Stevie Nicks. I think I’ve always had a deep appreciation for music. After graduating college I felt like I was getting older and not doing exactly what I wanted. I saw a concert and it all snapped into place- I called up music friends the next day and have been singing and writing ever since, this was in 2016.
How do you feel when you’re performing? Performing is such an incredible experience for me. Growing up dancing to these beautiful classical pieces and being able to embody the music was bliss. There’s something about sharing that moment with people you hardly know, showing them something they’ve never seen before- is magic to me. When I’m singing it’s even more exciting, because it’s way more vulnerable. I’m using my voice as an instrument. I primarily sing original music- so on top of using my voice I’m using my words and they are often deeply personal. Recently I caught someone singing along who knew the lyrics and just that one moment will resonate with me for a long time. I get the chills listening to good music, and performing to it. If I can share that experience with people if only for a moment then my life is complete.
Which do you love doing more, singing or dancing and why? This is a difficult question! If I had to choose, right now, it’s singing. I’ve danced more than half of my life, I’ve earned my 10,000 hours. It’s complete bliss, but at the moment I’ve been discovering different parts of my voice, different tones. And it’s really exciting. This morning I just got back to NY after recording in Seattle. I’m working on my EP, and I’ve been in a studio all day everyday for the past couple days. I’m so proud of the work I’m doing, I love everything, especially hard rock, but I’m a pop star at heart. I make music I can dance to, and when I dance the music moves me. It’s mostly just about that. And hey, I’m a REAL dancer. You can 100% expect me to throw down some choreography in my videos. No shade. But I’d love to bring back some REAL dancing- Madonna, Kate Bush, Lady Gaga Paula Abdul type dancing to the scene again.
Can you tell us about your tattoos? I’ve always been fascinated by tattoos. On my mom’s old computer there’s a secret folder of all traditional tattoos, that I planned on getting when I moved out and graduated. When I turned 18, I still wanted them but I was still en route to audition for broadway, the amount of tattoos I wanted is pretty much unacceptable.
The past two years I’ve met two primary artists that really helped me shape the art I’ve been wanting to have (Krista Olofsson and Jesús Arancibia). Almost all of my tattoos (née- a brilliant stick and poke done by fellow dancer and artist Krista Morgensen) are traditional. I can appreciate good realism, but to me I believe that the best tattoos are traditional. The ink sits better, the contrast against the skin is aesthetically beautiful – and honestly all the gothic reapers, roses skulls, are more my forte. I’m obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and gothic literature. I have too many roses and I will probably not stop getting them ever. I’ve cultivated my body, like it’s a painting and I love it more everyday.
What sorts of reactions do your tattoos get? Initially- when I showed up to the college dorms with my first real piece , I was met with shock, but not surprise. Now a days, it took some getting used to on my family’s end but I’ve been pretty accepted. I think it’s because the quality of my work is incredible. I waited to find the right artists, and in turn I have artwork that I can look at everyday and fall in love with. My boyfriend is supportive and definitely helped to link me up with artists I needed to meet. Right now I barely have any color, but I have a theme of black and this morbid blue as a highlight on my arm that Krista started and it’s literally amazing.
I have really awesome music coming out on Control Records with William Control (formerly of Aiden). That’ll be out very soon. With music I could tattoo whatever I want and people wouldn’t care. It’s completely different than the reactions I get after the shows with Company XIV. There’s definitely some glances from the older generation, and it’s frustrating because I’m a professional artist- I don’t like to be not taken seriously. But at the end of the day I love my work and I’m proud of it – that’s all that matters. My body’s my temple and I hung a shit ton of awesome paintings in it.
Have your tattoos ever stopped you from getting parts or helped you to? They haven’t because I sort of removed myself from that scene when I decided it was time to be myself. I stopped auditioning for broadway shows. I was asked when I tattooed my hand if I was sure, and I was. I want to live my life as an individual. I have no plan b. I will not work a job that does not accept me.
After realizing this, I sent in my info for a company I’d auditioned for three times before. My dream company as a dancer – Company XIV. Would you believe that at around 8pm tonight I hit the stage for them for my 26th performance of their Cinderella? Austin the director is so open to culture and different styles of beauty. He’s cultivated an incredible place for us to be ourselves. I asked him if I could dye half my head black and he was confused as to why I even asked – it’s that kind of support I’ve always needed to be the best version of myself. I came in with my hand tattoos and he was elated for me. I am very blessed. One time I stayed home from an XIV audition my senior year of college because I was feeling down on my body. If you could’ve told that girl she’d be in the company years later- she would’ve laughed in your face. I almost believe becoming myself got me my dream job. It’s some heavy stuff to think about.
How do tattoos and ballet mix? Tattoos an ballet right now, don’t really mix. Although now more than ever I do see tattoos on professional dancers more often. I can 100% understand the notion that such a classical art form should perhaps stay tattoo-less, but makeup these days is too incredible to let that be a hinderance. It’s totally realistic to cover up some tattoos for stage, I’ve done it. But If I’m being honest, I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy a tattooed Odette in Swan Lake. On the other hand, I love contrast. It’s part of who I am. This ballerina with a dark side. I’ve always been more of an Odile, the black swan- and honestly she’d look pretty sick with some sleeves.
Finger tattoos by Krista Olofsson
Do you have any future tattoo plans? I just got my fingers done, they are lovely. I coincidentally have heavily tattooed one side of my body. It’s the side where I have pink hair. I almost like it, because I am a living paradox, I’m heavily contrasted. I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of things. I’m very expressive. I plan on finishing my arm. I’ve been itching to get some more tradition depictions of artists I love. I’m looking to get a Lily Munster Marilyn Manson mashup. I’m absolutely obsessed with Frankenhooker, she’s getting on here somewhere. Oh! And more roses. Currently I’m not very interested in tattooing my chest. I just can’t see myself with it – maybe that’s the white swan in me.