Just after breakfast, sitting at the dinning table just next to Ah Ma (Grandma in Cantonese), Chun looks at his grandma, thoughtful. He asks,
– “Ah ma, do you want me to come back to Hong Kong?”, Ah Ma nods simply, eyes looking at her empty bowl.
Each time Chun comes back home to see her, Ah Ma gets slower, having more and more health issues. This year, unlike last time, Ah Ma starts to have knee pain and have difficulties walking.
For an instance, Chun imagines moving back to Hong Kong, just to stay with Ah Ma until the end. Capricious, he thinks that it’s worthy. After all, Ah Ma raised him up and has been an incredibly brave woman that he admires.
Ah Ma asks,
– “what’s the date today?
– “it’s Friday, 11th“, Chun replies.
– “and when are you leaving?”, she asks with a slightly shaky voice.
– “er…. on 13th in the evening”
The two of them remain silent, side by side, avoiding each other’s gaze.
Tonight was the last show of La Dame aux Camélias. This series of 19 performances have actually been quite enjoyable.
Chun also had the honor to wear Manuel Legris‘ (Famous French Etoile dancer) costume for this production!
The rehearsals which started in August 2018 have been very stressful for Chun, as he had to face his weaknesses in partnering. He had been brave to go through it, having “硬著頭皮做” in his mindset to confront each challenge.
He was very nervous and worried that these 19 performances would be even worse than the rehearsals. But eventually things just work out with hard work and perseverance.
Very touched to have finished this period, during which Chun learned very much. Will be up again for airport bus in only a few hours, heading back to Hong Kong.
2018 had been a very important year for Chun. Full of ups and downs, challenges and emotion, he went though the most revealing and shocking moments imaginable. It made him learn so much, and grow.
It is a year to remember. Now he sees things very differently and has a new attitude towards his life.
To take a step back and look at the year 2018, he could appreciate how wonderful life had been. Happy New Year to you all!
Looking back on Chun’s 2018…..
– A very nice two-weeks stay in Hong Kong
– Preparation of Concours de Promotion in March 2018
– Understudying Daphnis and Chloe (Millepied) and Bolero (Bejart)
– Ankle injury, unable to participate in Concours
– Met new friends in Paris, had so much fun visiting around together, and nice talks.
– Came back in Die Grosse Fuge (Keersmaeker)
– Decided to do Varna International Ballet Competition in Summer, speedily started the preparation
– Understudying La Fille Mal Gardée (Ashton)
– Injury at the hip
– Varna Competition with the injury, surprisingly won a prize.
– Nice family trip in Paris
– New Season at Opera, started rehearsing La Dame and Robbin’s Glass Pieces
– Concours de Promotion in November
– Trip to Budapest (for visit)
– La Dame performances……….
I think Chun has never spent so much time in a single exhibition….
This Basquiat/ Schiele exhibition was really interesting. The main focus was on the Africo-american artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, an impressive collection of his works was exposed in four levels at the Fondation LV, many of the works were said to be never exposed, owned by private collectors. While the Austrian artist Egon Schiele‘s works only exposed in one level.
To end his visit, he enjoyed a meal at Le Frank, the restaurant at the Fondation LV, before taking a nice “little train” to Porte Maillot to head home.
The “La Dame aux Camélias” group of dancers is now on a short holiday of 5 days before finishing the last two performances of the series on 2nd and 3rd January.
Chun takes this occasion to finish his homework, and to enjoy the beautiful city of Paris before going back to Hong Kong on 4th January.
Yesterday evening, he joined his friend to a concert in the famous church of Madeleine. It was his first time in the Madeleine, and was very excited to listen to Maurice Ravel‘s Bolero and Beethoven‘s 9th symphony in this grand church.
The Hélios orchestra of Paris is an associative orchestra, founded in 2014 for graduated musicians to begin their career and guided by experienced musicians (according to Wikipedia).
It turned out that there were few mélomanes in the audience. Almost everyone was clapping in between the four movements of Beethoven‘s symphony, many were asleep during the entire concert (probably tourists tired from a whole day of visiting, shopping and sight-seeing?)
But I have to say that the acoustic was…. bad. A musician friend of Chun’s said that in Madeleine it has one of the worst acoustics in Paris. The associative orchestra did a great job, but the Paris Opera standard made his ears picky.
It was in any case a great experience to listen to masterpieces in such a beautiful place in the center of Paris! What a great way to start the 5-days break!
Pointes shoes, the ultimate symbol and cliché of classical ballet and reserved for female ballerinas, is often a fascinating technique and savoir-faire. Not only is the technique of going on pointe extremely painful and difficult, choosing the right pointe shoes, learning this technique correctly, and even preparing the pointe shoes in a way that’s appropriate to each dancer is highly important.
Indeed, each ballerina prepares her shoes a little differently, there’s no perfect way to do it, each dancer has to take years of experience to figure out what sewing methods/ how to “break” the shoes make her feet look the best. Fascinating isn’t it?
Even thought male dancers won’t ever go on pointe in a performance (there are exceptions, I think of the Trocadero ballet, and several roles like the stepmother in Nureyev’s Cinderella, in some contemporary pieces, and others), some of Chun’s teacher suggested that he learns a bit of the pointe work to help with his foot work and his jumps.
Doing some simple pointe work exercises seriously actually helped. However, one must be very careful. Some male dancers would go crazy with their pointe shoes on, having fun and doing all kinds of female steps, which could easily lead to injury, for we don’t have the proper strength in the ankles for the pointe work that the girls have.
Chun just bought another pair of pointe shoes recently, he has to learn to “break” them and to sew them properly, which is so much work too.
Respect to all the female dancers who have to keep doing this over and over again, using up to 4 pairs of pointe shoes in one Swan Lake performance!
On Christmas Eve, after a nice usual dinner at home, Chun peered out from the window….
In the building facing him, he could barely listen to some laughters, Christmas carols, and he could recognized nicely decorated tables ready for Christmas dinners, Christmas trees and people having a good time with their family.
Chun’s family in Hong Kong never really celebrated Christmas, although they used to set up a Christmas tree when Chun was small, he loved to play with the twinkling garlands.
His colleagues are so shocked to learn that he spent Christmas alone and had just a usual dinner… “You’ve never had that strange feeling when you’re sitting in a classroom for lessons at Mid Autumn Festival, or working like a normal day at Chinese New Year while receiving hundreds of “Kung Hay Fat Choi“s on WhatsApp, of course you are shocked”, Chun thought.
Writing this at the Opera after doing the Red Ball on 25th December. It’s not a big deal not to celebrating birthdays, Christmas or Chinese New Year, as long as you can find your own happiness.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Yesterday, Chun went to see the last demonstrations of the Paris Opera Ballet School. The demonstrations are more or less a showcase of the students’ work at the school.
What seemed so phenomenally important all those years ago seems so much less today….
With all the cultural and language barriers, racism could be a natural phenomenon. Supposedly, it’s easier to talk with someone who speaks the same language as we do. With the cultural differences, we have different centres of interest, and different subjects of conversation. Thus, integrating into a foreign country, we naturally feels rejected, put aside.
For instance, for asians integrating the French society, it IS difficult. The French people can never understand our values, culture and mindset for they’ve never been received Asian education nor lived in Asia. To get integrated in France, Asians have to, at some point, change ourselves, and accept certain mentalities and French values.
I am not trying to say that racism, or racist discrimination, doesn’t exist. It certainly does exist. Chun has experienced quite a bit throughout his journey in Paris. But I believe that few are people who intentionally try to hurt you because you’re different. In most cases however, people try to joke without being conscious that you actually care, and that they’re hurting you.
Unfortunately, racists and bullies do exist, like any part of the world! It’s a brave decision that we’ve made to live abroad. When we are subject to any kind of discrimination, we always have the choice to give up and go back to our hometown, or to keep trying……. Chun’s mummy always taught him that “It’s much easier to change ourselves than to change the others.” So perhaps, rather be wise and intelligent by ignoring hurtful discrimination than expecting, for instance, the French to treat Asians as if they’re French.
And if anger arises, think of David Hallberg who thought when he left the Paris Opera School after one difficult year there:
“One day, I thought, I will return there, dance there, and prove my worth to them all.”
Chun is proud of his origins.
Somehow, Chun was asked about racism today. This is his 8th year in Paris, at the moment when he was asked about this, he didn’t know what to say. Years of experience in France turned everything into banality. In short, he got used to his surroundings. So he didn’t really know what to say. What he was sure, was that he didn’t feel the racism around.
Since he had this conversation about this subject today, he couldn’t stop thinking.
It is now 1:54 am. Chun is writing on his iPhone, was reading David Hallberg’s “A body of work”, a wonderful book which was his 22nd birthday present from a very good friend a few months earlier. After reading this Chapter 9, in which D. Hall berg talks about his year spent at the Paris Opera Ballet School, it just brings up so much emotion to Chun.
But hey, you have two performances in a row tomorrow, you are supposed to be sleeping! Write about it tomorrow okay!?
A friend asked Chun to meet at Fauchon shop at Madeleine church today. Chun is on a day-off, before attacking the intense weekend with four performances of La Dame aux Camélias in 3 days! He thought, “lunch at Fauchon? interesting. I’ve always seen Fauchon corners at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris selling macarons and chocolates but never knew that they have actually a restaurant too!”
He soon received a message from his friend, asking him to get to Akrame at 7 rue Tronchet. It’s such a discreet place…… Chun looked for the number seven of that rue Tronchet for a long time, and finally decided that he should walk into this corridor located somewhere between no. 11 and 5, no sign of any “Akrame” nor restaurant nor number 7 yet.
Once he was inside, he discovered this elegant private terrasse, he wondered if that was the place, still no sign of any “Akrame” or restaurants!
Then behind a door with a logo on it, was this elegant restaurant with designed with sober and wooden tones.
The two friends were greeted by two friendly waiters. One of them was Florian, who apparently never had never been to Hong Kong but was dying to work in a restaurant there…
Chun and his friend then spent more more than two and a half hours there, enjoying every bite and sight of the dishes that they ordered. The gastronomic cuisine was excellent, they had very good talks over it. Chun was however a little bit disappointed by the dessert, which was small in portion and a little bit too light. He was so disappointed that he didn’t even take a photo of that.
They finished their day walking around the streets of Paris, admiring the chic decorations for the end of the year. The decorations are simple but very beautiful. The two friends both wished to see less purple and red on the ones in Hong Kong……..
….. and passed by the Ritz Paris, where the Christmas trees are at their best.