Alexandra Meister joined Nashville Ballet in 2011. Her performances with the company include Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Dark Angel in George Balanchine's Serenade, the pas de trois and a big swan in Swan Lake, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling's Nashville Nutcracker, Mrs. Darling in Vasterling's Peter Pan, Lucy in Vasterling's Dracula and Flora in Vasterling's Carmina Burana. Her contemporary work includes pieces by Salvatore Aiello, George Balanchine, Brian Enos, James Gregg, Graham Lustig, Gina Patterson, James Sewell, Sarah Slipper and Christopher Stuart. In summer 2016, Meister represented Nashville Ballet at the 27th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.
Alexandra Meister in Serenade. Photo by Anthony Matula, courtesy Meister
I first started pulling out my eyelashes when I was 9, after removing fake ones at a dance competition. A few of my own eyelashes came out and I felt a new sensation. It hurt, but the prick also felt so good.
Eventually, I was pulling even when I was not wearing stage makeup, sometimes unaware of what I was even doing. It happened while I was reading or doing homework, or when I was sad or angry.
For the next five years, I secretly pulled my eyelashes, then moved to my eyebrows and eventually the back of my scalp. Finally, at 14, I told my mom what I had been doing and she took me to see a child psychologist. It turned out I had trichotillomania (a.k.a. "trich"), which is one of a group of behaviors known as Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors in which people repeatedly pull, pick, scrape or bite their hair, skin or nails.