Artistic director of the Berkeley Ballet Theater, a nonprofit ballet school in Berkeley, California.
In the spotlight
I danced with the American Ballet Theatre for 10 years, until retiring at age 26.
Favorite part of the day
When our ballet classes begin at 4 p.m. I love seeing the students build strength and accomplish steps they didn’t know before.
Pliés please me
Ballet is a total body workout and an artistic outlet that includes your mind, body and emotions. The physical benefits start with proper posture. For children, 20 minutes a day of impact exercise, such as jumping, promotes healthy bone growth.
Take a bow
I’m in the film of the American Ballet Theatre performing Swan Lake. I love telling stories, so I especially love this ballet.
Studying landscape architecture.
My favorite garden style is flowery and romantic, but I love so many plants, I can’t really say I have one favorite. Any plant, given the environment it needs and wants, will display its full beauty.
The Secret Garden—I believe in the rehabilitative power of gardens. When I lived in New York City, I would go to the New York Botanical Garden to unwind. After an afternoon surrounded by the calm, natural beauty of the garden, I felt rejuvenated.
Japan was my favorite place I toured with ABT. In Japan, the impression is that there is no extra room, and therefore everything is planned down to the finest detail.
How to feel beautiful
Do things that you believe in and that inspire you and fulfill you. Honor your feelings and intuitions so that when you look in the mirror, you see someone with integrity and an inner glow of joy.
More about Ilona
Tell us about your other interests and hobbies.
I don’t have much time between my garden and my job. However, I do enjoy dancing Argentine tango, singing, reading, playing the piano, writing letters to my best friend/pen-pal and arranging flowers to put around the house.
Jiri Kylian. I love his ballet Petite Mort because of the way the movement brings the music to life.
Who are your beauty icons?
My sister. She is beautiful, takes great care of her skin and body, and has an incredible sense of style.