How old were you when you started ballet? Did you like it?

As a really young girl, I remember watching my elder sister in her ballet classes through the window of the studio. I loved it so much that I would watch her dance for the entire duration of the class. Just like any younger sister would, I wanted to do what she was doing, and that was how I started learning ballet at the age of four.

I was always excited about my ballet lessons every week, especially about putting on my light pink leotard and polka dotted ballet skirt. (laughs) Ballet classes were a lot of fun, and because I had a group of really good friends who were equally excited about ballet lessons, dancing with them made it that much more enjoyable.

What was the first ballet you ever saw in a theatre? Who was it by, and what impression did it leave with you?

The first ballet I went to was Singapore Dance Theatre’s Ballet Under the Stars. At that age, I was more than happy to have a picnic while watching ballet, and I remember the dancers and costumes looking so beautiful on stage. I remember really enjoying myself that night, it was memorable.

When did you decide to pursue a professional career, and why?

Initially, ballet lessons were just about having fun to me. But as I progressed, I found the steps becoming more and more challenging. But then, I had more opportunities to perform on stage which made me realise that I love performing. I do not remember specifically when I decided to pursue a professional career in this field, but I knew from a young age that this is the path I wanted to take.

Did you enjoy your training at your school?

Yes, I really enjoyed my training at English National Ballet School (ENBS). It was very tough because the training was not only physically demanding, but mentally as well. However, because I was surrounded by friends who shared the same dream and aspirations as me, we were able to encourage and support one another through the three years at school. Till now, we are still very close friends.

When and how did you join SDT?
I joined SDT in November 2012. Upon graduation, I contacted our Artistic Director, Mr Janek Schergen, requesting for an audition into the company. He very kindly offered me an apprentice contract then, and I have been in the company ever since.

What was your first role in SDT as a professional dancer? Did you like it?

My first production at SDT was Sleeping Beauty. I was one of the Garland women in Act 1 and a nymph in Act 2. Interestingly enough, I was touring around England with my school just a few months before joining the company, and we were performing Sleeping Beauty. So when I came in to SDT, I knew the music very well and it was fun doing a different version of the same ballet! Having performed many times as a student, I always longed to become a professional ballerina, so the first time that I danced as a member of a professional dance company was a great experience!

How do you learn a new ballet/choreography? Is it different for contemporary and classical choreography?

Every choreographer teaches his/her ballet differently. The first thing I would do is to learn the steps as accurately as possible and pay attention to the details. The movements would usually be taught in smaller segments, and I would try to retain the previous segment in my mind while learning the next segment. Otherwise, there would be a lot to catch up on. After getting my body familiar with the movements, I would try to blend them with the music as seamlessly as possible.

I am more familiar with classical ballet so the steps seem easier to learn. We have learnt all the standard steps for ballet, so it is just a matter remembering the sequence that the steps are being placed. Contemporary, on the other hand, has a very wide vocabulary. Every contemporary choreographer moves differently, and the way they shape their bodies and movements is usually what is natural for the choreographers themselves. At first the movements may not feel very comfortable, and for me it is all about muscle memory. The more I practice, the more natural the movements become.

 What is a typical rehearsal day like for you? What do you do during breaks?

We start our day with a company ballet class at 10am. After a short break, we begin rehearsals from 11.45am till 5.30pm, with an hour lunch break in between. We also get small breaks after every rehearsal, and because I get hungry easily, I will have small bites in between to replenish my energy for the next few rehearsals.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

No, I don’t have any pre-performance rituals. But I usually try to get my makeup and hair done early. Sometimes I go on stage early to practice certain steps, and I would go through the movements in my head before the show.

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

The company provides us with catered meals when we are in the theatre. I love it as we won’t have to leave the theatre to get our own meals. This really saves us a lot of time. I also have some biscuits and chocolates, and I will try to get a bubble tea if I can. (laughs)

What is your dream role?

During my career, I would like to perform in as many roles as I can. But two of my favourite roles are Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet.

What is your favourite costume so far?

My favourite costume so far would have to be the tutu from Theme and Variations by George Balanchine.

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

For da:ns festival this year (2014), we performed Shadow’s Edge, a world premiere by Ma Cong. I really enjoyed working with him because he is very specific and has a very clear idea of what he wants.

Do you watch ballets from the wings during performance days?

Yes, I try to watch ballets from the wings as much as I can because I learn a lot from watching others dance, and I want to support my friends who are on stage.

How do you feel after a performance?

When the performance goes well, the encouraging words from my friends and the applause from the audience give me a great sense of satisfaction. I can feel their warmth and enthusiasm through their appreciation and support, and it is a really great feeling having done a good performance.

What is your most prized possession?

I really treasure my photos and notes of encouragement from my friends. I cannot turn back time, so the only thing that remains is these little things that remind me of those special memories. They have great sentimental value to me.

What do you like to do outside of SDT?

Outside of work, I like to go shopping, watch movies and enjoy Singapore’s good food. On the weekends, I try to get a lot of sleep to replenish my energy and to be ready for the week ahead. Having enough rest is very important as it keeps me alert and it is very effective for muscle recovery.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure”?

I guess it would have to be shopping! Shopping makes me happy but there are just too many pretty things out there!

Are most of your friends dancers?

Yes. I spend a lot of time dancing so most of my friends are dancers from the company and friends that I made during my time at ENBS. I still keep in touch with friends from my academic school.

How does your family feel about your career?

I am very lucky to have a supportive family. They don’t say much, but I always know that they will be there for me, cheering me on. My parents just want me to be happy, and they know that dancing makes me happy.

What do you want to do after dancing?

I am still uncertain about what I want to do after dancing, but I know I can only dance while I am young. So the important thing to me now is to be healthy, stay away from injuries, and improve my craft so that I will be able to dance for many years to come.