A crazy crazy day…

I will count today among one of the most packed days that I’ve ever had:

7:30 am – wake up
8:30 am – oral exam (business course, telephone prospection techniques)
10:00 am – Opera
Noon – Opera called for tonight’s replacement in a new spot, nerves
1 pm – home for lunch and work (homework, internship, extra tasks to help friends, revision for tonight’s replacement)
6 pm – Hong Kong Fashion brands presentation

7:30 pm – Get ready for performance (make-up, revision, try out steps with new partners, stage placement, trying costumes…..)
8:52 pm – our piece starts
10 pm – home
11:30 pm – finished some more tasks for friends……
11:46 pm – writing this post, gratitude, relieve, and heavy eye lids.

CCGC Vision (商薈) Article – February 2019

My interview by CCGC Vision HK magazine in both English and Chinese. I especially appreciate this article. Thank you Vanessa.

To access to the complete PDF document (page 49 – 52), click the following link: https://www.cgcc.org.hk/files/file/1550637206_f2.pdf

Self control and willpower~

It is now 7:41pm, I am writing this at the canteen of the Opera, we will have another performance later in the evening.

Today, we had a last stage rehearsal of this program for the new cast. For me, I am just dancing with a new partner, nothing else will change for me. It didn’t went so well, which is completely normal, we always have to adjust and adapt to each partner.

Even more surprising (I am surprised by how I react to what happens to me), I had a class from my business course yesterday in which we did a simulation of a prospecting call. I had never done it before, and it went actually okay, but I felt horrible at that moment, and I had been feeling bad all the way until this afternoon, until my focus was switched to the stage rehearsal at the Opera.

I have been extremely sensitive emotionally in the past few days. Even normal events make me very annoyed. The thing is, while myself is surprised by how I actually feel, I have no idea why I react in such a way.

……. it is 23:04, I just came home from tonight’s performance. To my relief, it went quite well, my partner was happy. To come back to what I was saying earlier, I think when we are tired, hungry or stressed, we have a lower level of willpower and self control, which leads to extra sensitiveness or aggressiveness. Don’t you think?

We shall Never make important decisions or do risky tasks after a bad night’s sleep, or when we’re tired or hungry. We may mess everything up!
I did, last night, when I was very tired, I wanted to make a backup and I turned out deleting a whole library document in my computer! And how important is self control in life! So, make sure you eat well, and sleep well! That’s the way to a victorious life!

(Featured image: Winged Victory of Samothrace, Louvre Museum, Paris)

Brussels Trip~ February 2019

First step, decision and reservation~

So today, I decided that I would offer myself a trip! I always think that we will never know what’s going to happen next in life. While I am now lucky enough to live in this beautiful continent of Europe, with different amazing places from just several hours away from me, I will go and explore as much as possible. As the Chinese says: “讀萬卷書不如行萬里路” which means, you might learn more from travelling ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.

I actually had the idea to go to Brussels two days ago. A weekend is quite short, and I thought it is quite close to Paris. It’s a day off for me today. I literally spent a whole afternoon hesitating, whether Brussels is a good choice or would I prefer choosing another city? How to get there, how to use my holiday vouchers, making reservations by myself or through an agency, where to stay……. After all, it is the first time that I will go on a trip alone! So I am probably a little nervous and worried, and unlike the frequent solo travellers, I don’t have the experience to make quick decisions.

But I’m there! It’s 18h30 and I finally booked the hotel, which looks quite nice. And I start to get excited about my trip! Which will be in two weeks’ time.

No more hesitation, bus tickets booked~

The moment when I bought my bus ticket to Brussels at a travel agency

Yesterday, Monday 18th, I bought my bus tickets to Brussels for this weekend. This marks the “point of no return”, no more hesitation. “Your hotel booked on booking.com is cancellable with full refund, but these tickets, you paid for them already.”

Okay, so I am going to Brussels this weekend. I have not planned anything, this is going to be my first solo get-away. I am getting excited. Now, I am in the middle of quite a bit of stress, I need to get away. But you know what? I am a little bit worried about this trip still, I wouldn’t want to walk too much (but I will, for sure) and have my leg muscles completely tensed up when I will come back for a few more performances. That’s probably why I chose to take a bus, which will take 4 hours to get there, but at least I will be able to be able to enjoy new sceneries without walking at all.

First day in Brussels, a tour in the city center~

When I got off the bus…
My hotel’s lobby

Here I am, in Brussels, alone, on my first ever solo trip. I am writing this in the popular restaurant Chez Leon, many of my friends insisted that I try the local fries and mussels, so I ordered a cliché dinner: mussels, fries and beer. My beer arrived first, my first beer ever in my life! Meanwhile, i am waiting impatiently for my mussels and fries, and to compare the fries with the mcDonalds fries that I used to love when I was a child.

I have been enjoying my visit here so far, this morning since I arrived by bus, I did the main landmarks of Brussels, the city’s museum, the famous Manneken Pis statue, tried some chocolates, a waffle, walked a lot and a lot, I wanted to see the royal palace so much but it was closed apparently.

Generally speaking, I found that the atmosphere of the city quite comparable to a small French city, not Paris because Paris is much more crowded and people are much more in a bad mood all the time. The main language here is French, with the same Parisian accent. I also see a lot of French shops in town like the bakery Paul and a lot more others recalling Paris and French culture.

Weather was perfect, sunny and warm. What impressed me the most is still the Grand Place. The architecture styles are impressive and I was surprised to be one of the few people who actually paid 4€ (only) to see the city museum of Brussels at the Grand Place. The plaza was packed with people and tourist and I found myself alone in the museum….. yet the museum was very interesting, it’s about the city’s history, culture but the original statues of Saint Michel (which is at the top of the Hôtel de Ville) and Manneken Pis are actually stored in that museum! This made me so proud when I arrived at the famous fountain with the Manneken Pis, surrounded by tons of tourists, I wanted to tell them, “you haven’t even seen the original Manneken Pis!”

My mussels are still not arriving…

Second day, a park and mainly museums before going back~

Yesterday’s mussels turned out to be very average. Maybe they were exceptional comparing to other countries’, but I don’t often have seafood so I really couldn’t judge. The fries were definitely better than McDonald’s, but once again I have fries like once a year so I couldn’t judge neither. However, I had the very first beer of my life! So obviously, couldn’t tell whether it was good, for me it tasted like beer.

I had another very good day, I am now waiting for my bus in my hotel, my legs are very tired from walking around for a whole day. Today, I went to a park a bit far from the city center called the Parc du Cinquantenaire. There’s a museum of cars there, called the Autoworld, out of curiosity I went to see that. I have never been a big fan of cars, oh, actually I have, when I was a child, but not today. Even so I was impressed by the collection, it is very impressive to be less than one meter away from those beautiful cars from different periods.

Then I went to see the European institutions of Brussels, just next to the park. And I guess out of this trip, this is what I felt the most enthusiastic about. If I weren’t that tired J would have spent a day there. The visit was completely free and there were a lot to see and to learn about the Europe. I found it excellent, very interesting. My head was going to explode due to the abondance of information, but I was greedy to have done so much in a single day. Somehow it made me feel proud to be living and working in Europe.

So my trip to Brussels ended there, I then slowly walked back to the hotel, took some more photos of what I found beautiful along the way…..

Generally speaking, I was very happy with this trip. And I look forward to more solo trips in Europe! My first solo trip has been a huge success. It is incredible how travelling (even if it exhausts you physically from walking and mentally from absorbing new information) reenergizes you completely from your daily routine.

in the bus again….

More to come~ I decided it for myself.

A thousand orchids and Swan Lake…

Such sunny weather in Paris this week. It’s a very calm week for me, not much work from business school, and no rehearsals in the afternoon. But I don’t know why I am feeling a little under pressure and tired. After working a little bit in the morning yesterday, which was a day-off, I decided to go out and enjoy the sun.

Botanical Gardens, Paris

I originally planned to have a relaxing walk under the sun on the left bank of Paris. I fell asleep in the RER C and I missed several stations. Arriving at Gare d’Austerlitz, I saw that it was the first day of the flower exhibition, the “Mille et une orchidées” (A thousand and one orchids). I got my ticket, and here we go.

The sort of green house at the Botanical Gardens, where the exhibition was…

In a sort of a big green house, maybe hundreds or thousands of orchids were displayed. The scenery was heavenly and there was a large variety of species. It was very soothing to the spirit to see these beautiful flowers, as if they were reminding me of the beauty of life, and that all the daily problems are unimportant.

Then I went for a nice long walk in the streets of Paris, before going to the Pré-générale of Swan Lake (Le Lac des Cygnes) at Opera Bastille, and…. it was soooo good! I hadn’t seen Swan Lake live from the audience since a very long time. As a ballet dancer, we just know this ballet, the choreography and the music, too well. I didn’t expect this performance to still strike me at this point, but it did. After all these years, we definitely watch this very same ballet with different focuses. The performance provokes new thoughts, and we see more and more details of the production. And also, for me, a new interpretation of the story. It was such a success. Dorothée Gilbert and Hugo Marchand were perfect in the lead roles, and I also start to see some of my friends doing other main roles which is part of the reason why I felt so excited.

It made me so proud of the Paris Opera Ballet~

Curtain call, Pré-Générale of Le Lac des Cygnes

The day of my first performance

Finally, much to our surprise and joy, the company finally arranged two different casts for the ballet Les Noces of the program Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg. We had a stage dress rehearsal last Friday afternoon, and knowing well that our first performance will be on Monday, I couldn’t stop worrying about it last weekend.

Indeed, Monday had been an intense day. Apart from the first performance of the second cast, it was also the day of a Chinese New Year reception organised by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office at the Intercontinental Grand Hotel to which I was invited, just next to Opera Garnier. I wouldn’t want to miss this occasion to meet my Hong Kong friends who are living in Paris, the Hong Kong community and to see the performance by talented Hong Kong artists/musicians.

Salon Opera, Intercontinental Hotel Paris

The reception starts at 18h30, and I had to be at Opera Garnier at 19h latest, since the performance starts at 19h30. At the end, I decided to attend the reception from 18h30 to 19h. My sleep quality is not so great recently, perhaps because of the nerves, so I was a little bit worried that I would be too tired…. but I didn’t want to miss anything!

On Monday morning, I told myself, “one thing at a time”. Whenever I am overwhelmed by my schedule, a good mental remedy for me is to stay very focus, doing one thing after another, and to be very rational. I went to morning warm up class, did my cool down, get prepared and ready for studio rehearsal at 14h, then put on my costume (for the first time!), did the stage dress rehearsal, when I encountered difficulties with certain steps or musicality or with my partner, since we didn’t have much time to practice, I tried my best to be incredibly calm and rational: “Ok, this didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? How to resolve the problem? Then try again. Okay, that’s the solution.”

At 16h30, I was physically tired from the dress rehearsal. I gently rolled out my tensed-up muscles with my foam roller and did some stretching in my changing room, went to the canteen to eat a little. Then had a nap.

At 18h10 it’s time to go to the reception. I got dressed up, and it’s just next door.

A Cafe inside the Grand Hotel

I walked (in quite a fast pace) into the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel and each time I got amazed by the beautiful settings and serein atmosphere.

Ceiling of the Salon Opera

This time, the event was held in the Salon Opera, the biggest and the finest of the Hotel. I have never been here before, and was right the way impressed by the breathtaking ceiling. Hidden beautiful places are everywhere in Paris!

It’s time, it’s 19h! I had to go back to Opera for the show. I quickly gathered my thoughts and prepared myself physically and mentally for my first performance.

Makeup session inside Opera Garnier

What I really love at the Paris Opera Ballet is the make-up and hairstyling personnel. It was so nice to see them again, I hadn’t seen them since La Dame aux Camélias. That definitely helped me to overcome a part of my nerves. I put on my costume, when to the Foyer de la Danse for warm up, then go~ Show time.

Finally, much to my relieve, the show went very well for the second cast, and I enjoyed dancing in this ballet. I appreciate this opportunity to be on stage again. My look in this contemporary production is very Japanese, a little manga-feel, with sakura prints on my pink T-shirt and the preferred leaving my now-a-little-too-long hair as in the photo.

I walked out the Opera, I was then starving. I joined some of my Hong Kong friends who just left the reception at the Hotel, for a late dinner in a nice Chinese restaurant.

Première on the new year of the PIG!~

Yesterday was the first day of Chinese New Year. First of all I wish everyone Kung Hay Fat Choy! Good Health and Joy! It is also the day of the Première of the mixed contemporary program Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg at Palais Garnier.

I didn’t dance yesterday night. Apparently, I am now second cast of the program, and will be performing on 11th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 28th February. The second cast didn’t get to rehearse much during the preparation process, we will have one stage run this Friday, before our first show on 11th! Very exciting…The weather in Paris had been cold and rainy for days….  But the sun finally came out again yesterday and offered us a nice view of Paris from the studio Noureev:

View of Eiffel Tower from Studio Noureev

And that rehearsal in Studio Noureev was our last work session with the choreographer and his team: Pontus L. , Jens, and Nathanel. This time, I learned a lot about the process of the creation of a new ballet. It requires a lot of time and research, research in the idea of the piece, the music, the message behind (there could be a message behind or not at all), the choreographic material, organisation, castings…….. Freedom is obviously the choreographer’s best friend while creating, yet in most cases, his/her freedom is limited, by the Artistic Direction of the company, the dancers’ desire, the organisation of the company, the size and possibilities of the stage, the competence of the other teams (technique, lighting and sets, musicians), the taste of the audience, the country in which the piece will be premiered ….. etc. It’s a huge project! 

Bravo to all choreographers to your work! The day of the Premiere must be something…. Having no idea of how the audience would react to the new creation, it must be quite scary……

Curtain Call
The stage of Palais Garnier right after the performance, behind the curtain

And it’s Chinese New Year! Les Galeries LaFayette is very eager to celebrate Chinese New Year to attract and satisfy its Chinese clients.

Chinese New Year themed windows at Galeries LaFayette