How old were you when you started ballet?

I was around 3 years old when I first started learning ballet, and I think I must have really liked it ever since I was a young girl because I’ve been dancing for the past 20 years now. (laughs)

What was the first ballet you ever saw?

The first ballet I remember watching in a big theatre by a professional ballet company was The Nutcracker. I was really mesmerised by the dancers, and I remember thinking to myself, “I want to up there one day”.

When did you decide to pursue a professional career?

I think I was about 10 or 11 years old, right before I went over to Canada to train at a professional ballet school. I can’t explain exactly why I wanted to pursue ballet, all I knew then was that I just loved to dance and wanted to dance forever!

Did you enjoy your training at your school?

Yes, I really did! It wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

I was 12 years old when I first went over to Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and I could not speak a word of English. So I had a hard time communicating for the first three months. But thankfully, because I was so young, I picked up English and adjusted to the culture very quickly.

A typical day at school would include ballet training in the morning, normal academic school in the afternoon, and then character/modern dance class and rehearsals till 8.30pm at night. Even though the training was tough and demanding, I had the best teachers and classmates in Canada.

If I had to do it all over again, I would choose to do the exact same thing!

When and how did you join SDT?

I joined SDT in October 2010. Initially, I came to SDT for a few days in the summer to take company class, and I was originally going to be hired as an extra dancer for an upcoming production of Sleeping Beauty. But I ended up joining the company as an apprentice dancer instead, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of SDT ever since!

What was your first role in SDT as a professional dancer? 

My first role in SDT was one of the lilac fairy attendants in Sleeping Beauty. I remember being nervous about it as I was standing in for a dancer who was injured, but I was also excited at the same time because it was my first performance as a professional dancer. (laughs)
It was such a memorable experience, that whenever I hear the music from Sleeping Beauty now, I still think about my first performance.

How do you learn a ballet?

For me, learning a classical ballet or piece is much easier. I think it’s because classical ballet is quite structured and we’ve learnt all the steps in school. We have all the ‘ingredients’, so it is just a matter of which order and how the steps are put together.

Contemporary works are a little more challenging for me. First, I try to pick up the choreographer’s movement as much as I can, and after that, I try learn it with the music and rhythm. It’s more difficult than classical because there is no textbook for any of the movements, and each choreographer has their own interpretation. But that’s also what I love about contemporary.

What is a typical rehearsal day like for you?

I usually get to the studio around 9.30am and we start our daily ballet class at 10am. We have rehearsals for different ballets at 11.45am and we go home at 5.30pm. We have a lunch break from 2pm to 3pm, I try to squeeze in a 15 minute power nap during lunch time so that I’m more energised for the afternoon rehearsals.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

I try not to have any fixed pre-performance rituals because if I do and something goes wrong such that I can’t carry out that usual routine, I’m worried that it will freak me out before a performance. So I try to be flexible and see what my body needs on that particular day. Sometimes I read a book to calm myself down if I’m feeling a little bit nervous, other times I listen to upbeat music if I think I need to be more energised. I would also eat chocolate if I think I need more energy. (laughs)

What do you eat on a big rehearsal/performance day?

I try not to eat too much at any one time because I don’t want to feel sick when I’m dancing. Instead I will snack and have small bites whenever I have the chance. Things like fruits, nuts, crackers, or anything else that would give me energy is great.

What is your dream role?

It’s hard to pick one single role because there are so many classical and contemporary works that I would love to do. But Juliet from Romeo and Juliet was always my favourite since I was little, so I guess that would have to be my dream role!

What is your favourite costume so far?

I don’t really have a favourite costume, but I definitely love the beautiful and elegant tutus that we get to wear when we perform.

Who is your favourite choreographer in the works you’ve danced?

It’s hard to pick a favourite because every choreographer is so different in how they create their work. But I’ve really enjoyed working with Toru Shimazaki and Val Caniparoli because they are full of energy and they’ve inspired me through their work. But every choreographer has definitely helped me to be a better dancer.

Do you watch ballets from the wings during performance days?

It really depends on how I’m feeling that day. I enjoy watching my friends dance, so I try to watch whenever I have the chance. But if I feel like I need to lie down and rest, or if I need to be more focused on my own performance, I will not watch from the wings.

How do you feel after a performance?

If it is the last show, I would thirst for a beer! (laughs)

I usually feel very accomplished after a performance. There are times when I wish I could re-do some parts, but what is done is done, so I try to let it go and learn from that mistake. It is important to me to make sure that the same mistakes do not happen again, but it is also important not to dwell on it so much. It’s a fine balance. (laughs)

What is your most prized possession?

I would have to say that it is my family. They’ve been very supportive of me ever since I could remember and I cannot thank them enough.

I also treasure letters and cards from family and friends, even if it is just a little note. Some are from years ago and I love to read it once in a while to remind myself of how lucky I am to have them in my life!

What do you like to do outside of SDT?

I love trying out new cafes, restaurants and bars with my good friends.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure”?

Online shopping! Actually, I try to pretend that I feel guilty about this, but the truth is I feel great after I’ve pressed the ‘purchase’ button. (laughs)

Are most of your friends dancers?

Some are, but I have some friends who are not dancers as well. I love the dance world, but I think it is interesting to know the world outside of dance.

How does your family feel about your career?

I think they are very happy that I’m happy doing what I love, and they understand that not everyone gets to pursue their passions. So I’m very lucky to be able to pursue my love for dance.

What do you want to do after dancing?

There are many things that interest me, but I still haven’t given enough thought to them. I definitely want to have a family and kids, and I would also love to go back to school. I want to try something completely new, and see what’s out there!