How old were you when you started ballet?

I was 2 ½ years old. My mum told me that as soon as I started to walk, I also liked to dance. I liked dancing in front of the TV and with any music that was playing. So my mum put me in a ballet class and I’ve been dancing ever since!

What was the first ballet you ever saw?

The Nutcracker. It was during Christmas time, so it was really magical as well. I loved the costumes and the music and I wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy!

When did you decide to pursue a professional career?

It was when I received a scholarship to The Australian Ballet School at the Asian Pacific Ballet Competition in Tokyo in 2000. The scholarship made me realize that I can do something with dancing and gave me the hope of becoming a professional ballerina.

Did you enjoy your training?

Yes! It was an eye opener because it was my first time in a full-time ballet school. I spent the entire day doing something related to ballet, be it dancing or studying the theory and history behind it. It was a new lifestyle, and the teachers and friends were very welcoming. I really felt at home and liked everything about it!

How/when did you join SDT?

I joined SDT in July 2005. My ballet teachers in Australian Ballet School recommended that I audition for this company because they thought that my dancing style would be suitable for the company. So I came here to audition and I got a contract with them.

What was your first role in SDT?

Boi Sakti’s Reminiscing the Moon. It was something very special, that ballet was very dramatic with many special effects. It was a fusion of traditional Indonesian dance and modern dance. There was rice falling from the ceiling, a swimming pool from the stage – we danced in the water, there was water coming down from the ceiling and it made it look like it was raining! It was really a very interesting first ballet!

How do you learn a ballet?

When I first learn a ballet, I would try to memorise what the choreographer wants us to do, and at the same time move my entire body to remember the steps. From there, as we go into the rehearsal process, every movement becomes more natural to me, it flows more, and then it gradually sort of becomes my own interpretation of the movements and the ballet. I also try to listen to music and think about what else I can inject into the ballet to make it better.

What is a typical rehearsal day like?

We have class every morning at 10am to 11.30am. It’s taught either by our Ballet Master or Artistic Director Janek Schergen. Sometimes we also have guest teachers who come from all around the world. At 11.45am we begin our day of rehearsals. We usually rehearse between 5 – 6 different ballets in a day and sometimes I’m in all of it.  Sometimes I have pockets of rest time in between rehearsals, when I’m not in a particular ballet. So I take this time to sew my pointe shoes, massage my muscles, sometimes I’ll just lie down, elevate my legs and just relax my body.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Before the performance, when the stage is empty and ready for dancers to go onstage, I try on all the pointe shoes which I have brought with me and choose what I want to wear for that performance. Because even though I feel comfortable with a particular pair of shoes the day before, the next day, it can feel different! I usually bring 6 – 7 pairs of pointe shoes with me.

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

I always have Pocari Sweat or some isotonic drink with me. I make sure I hydrate and have enough fluid in my body, to me it helps to prevent my muscles from cramping. I also have bananas because I recently found out that it helps too! I make sure I eat before and after the performance.

What is your dream role?

The lead role of Tatjana in Onegin by John Cranko. It’s a complicated love story and she’s a character who’s more mature than Juliet (in Romeo and Juliet) and if I ever get a chance to perform the character in the ballet, it would be such good experience.

What costume has been your favourite?

The Paquita tutu – it looks like a wedding dress but in a tutu form! I also really like the costume from Lambarena by Val Caniparoli. It’s African-inspired, and really bright and colourful, and is designed by Sandra Woodall.

Do you watch ballets from the wings?

Yes and no. Sometimes I don’t want to watch a part which I will be performing and might get a bit nervous about.

How do you feel after a performance?

Accomplished when it went well! But if I still have another 2 performances over the next two days, I am sometimes still nervous and I go through the ballet in my head before I sleep.

What do you like to do outside of SDT?

I like to go shopping, have coffee with friends, as well as go to the movies. I like good food and I enjoy cooking. Sometimes I go for a massage to treat myself.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure”?

Shopping! (laughs) I do feel guilty about spending money sometimes. Chanel’s one of my favourite brands!

Are most of your friends dancers?

I hang out with my colleagues, the dancers from SDT. Also, some of my Japanese friends in Singapore and some friends back in Japan from school aren’t dancers.

What is your most prized possession?

An autograph of Alina Cojocaru. She’s one of my role models! When I was in Japan, I saw her in the Chacott store, and I was so excited. I was a bit nervous about meeting her, but I just had to go up to her to ask for her autograph.

How does your family feel about your career?

They’re very happy about my career, especially my mum. She’s been very supportive of my career since I was young. My mum comes to Singapore twice a year, and she takes my dad, sister and grandma along too when they can make it.

What do you want to do after dancing?

I love to teach children ballet, as well as those who aspire to become a professional dancer in the future. So being a ballet teacher is something that I want to do in the future. Of course, I want to have a family! If I find something that I’m interested in along the way, I might do that too. It doesn’t have to be related to ballet. My options are open for the moment.