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GEM Graduation on Chinese New Year

Last Saturday, 25th January 2020, was a day of unbelievable coincidence:
– It was the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rat (me being a Rat in Chinese Zodiac and a “petit rat de l’Opéra“)
– and the day of the graduation ceremony at my business school, Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM).

Moreover, GEM invited me to perform a solo on the stage during the ceremony, and I was to be awarded the prize of “Athlete GEM of the year” during the graduation dinner, during which I would give my very first speech in French.

It was a challenging weekend. The following day, I had to take an early train back to Paris because I had a gala performance in Salle Ravel in Levallois, on Sunday afternoon. When GEM proposed me to do a solo during the ceremony, I had no idea how the conditions would be. For us dancers, the floor is extremely important. Ideally a bouncy dance floor covered with an adapted Marley, not too slippery but not too sticky. A rehearsal before the performance is indispensable in order to get used to the floor, the dimensions of the stage, lightings….. However, since I only arrive Grenoble on the D-Day, I couldn’t have a proper rehearsal before. Also, since it is a particular audience that would not be used to seeing ballet, I was feeling unsure about how they would react to my favorite contemporary On Velvet solo by Marco Goecke. Relatively underprepared for the Levallois gala on Sunday, these two days seemed worrying and exciting to me at the same time.

Stage of the graduation ceremony

Finally, both challenges were met successfully! I managed to fix the music and the lightings and the slippery floor in time, just before the performance for the graduation ceremony. It went quite well much to my relieve! And the audience seemed to have loved this special demonstration.

From the end of my performance in the afternoon to around midnight: cocktail, photos, dinner, speech, prize presentation, talking and socialising non-stop. As a relatively reserved person, I’ve always been one, it was a little exhausting. But all the positive feedbacks that I received are reassuring.

I gave my first speech in French during the dinner, right after they played a video that presented my journey since my arrival in France. Then before I realised it I was on the stage, my mind filled with emotions and memories and my hands were shaking. Standing in front of a huge space with that many people watching, and suddenly noticing a remarkable silence, thousands of eyes looking at me. I slowly pronounced every word with intention, thanking those who made this double project possible, I meant every word that I said.

Venue for the dinner

There, my soul was filled with joy and relieve. I was relieved that my atypical path, the hard work and the difficulties that came with it are finally recognised. As if I had been waiting for this recognition, which is now, in a concrete way, materialised into this prize.

It was a glorious day for me, overwhelmed by all the compliments that I received. This can be dangerous, every compliment is a caress on my ego, I’d better be careful and calm down my overly agitated ego. However, recognition is an important driver. For the first time since a very long time, I feel energised and so very motivated in my future endeavours.

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