This morning, when Chun saw this, he didn’t believe that tonight’s La Dame aux Camélias performance would be possible, with this fifth day of “Gilets Jaunes” protests.
He left home at 9:55 am and arrived at 11:25 am at the Opera, started his day with a ballet class, then rehearsals….. being whole day inside the theatre, we had no idea what was going on outside.
Finally, much to his surprise and joy, the house was full for the performance. Those 2000 people so fearless and eager to come and watch the show despite the riots, for a moment Chun thought once again, that his profession is a beautiful one.
Tomorrow will be the fifth Saturday that the Gilets Jaunes (as the French call them, referring to protesters wearing yellow vests), and today, the employees of the Paris Opera received an email from the Direction informing us of its decision of remaining the two theatres (Garnier and Bastille) open during this 5th day of riots in Paris.
Then, we received another email with this metro map indicating which stations will be closed by the Police Station tomorrow:
Tonight, in the corridors of the Opera Garnier:
” -Are they serious? They’re keeping the theatres open?
-Yes they are! Haven’t you read that email? They don’t seem to care about our security! -The Matignon (performance for which the Prime Minister is invited, planned to take place Saturday afternoon) is cancelled! Of course it is…. they care about the Prime Minister’s safety, and we are nobody so they don’t ever care! I am not coming tomorrow, I will be a minister for one day… How are we actually supposed to come to the Opera?
-Indeed….. All the metro stations around are closed! No taxi will be available, the parkings around will also be closed. Seriously, we’ll need a helicopter and a parachute!
-Maybe we will succeed arriving into the Opera, together with all the staff working for La Dame aux Camélias, but then we will have no audience! Isn’t it? Who would come to watch La Dame, given that they will have to go through the crowds of Gilets Jaunes in their high heels and suits?
Dear metro station Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette, still open here, what would Chun do without you tomorrow?
With a freezing 2 degrees weather tomorrow, dear Gilets Jaunes, mind your lower back while throwing back the tear gas grenade towards the Police! You may need a proper warm-up session with us at the Opera.
Chun has a day-off in the middle of the week. Sitting in front of his Mac and facing the window, he got envious of the nice sunshine and blue sky outside. He decided to go to the Palais de Tokyo which is near where he lives, and to go and see an exhibition: Zao Wou-Ki, a famous Chinese artist who spent half of his life in Paris.
From all that he saw this morning, Chun liked this big horizontal canvas the most. This certainly seemed abstract to him, yet mesmerizing. For a moment he imagines this painting hanging on a wall of an elegantly designed duplex/house. How appealing.
At the end of the exhibition, four ink-wash paintings were displayed. These were aparently part of a project for the stage curtains at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, a project that actually came to naught. That came to naught? How? Would have loved to see curtains like this in a theatre.
Most of Zao’s works are not titled, emphasizing to the abstract beauty of his paintings.
During this busy non-stop performance period, reading is particularly enjoyable. Is it really the period? or is it simply the book? Chun enjoys reading this third book of Kevin Kwan’s famous trilogy Crazy Rich Asians very much. He would read this before bed, until late, very late, captivated by the addictive plot, until his eyes burn.
This third book is mainly about the story’s Ah Ma (Grandma in Cantonese), Shang Su Yi. Reading it can’t stop Chun from thinking of his own Ah Ma……
A woman still actually cooks for her whole family in her nineties!!!! Ah Ma is undoubtedly one brave woman. When Chun was small, both of his parents had to work during the day, and the one who brought him up was Ah Ma. He especially misses the chicken wings that Ah Ma used to make him for lunch. Ah Ma knows Chun’s tastes very well, and because he has always loved the chicken wings, she would prepare him some each time when he goes back to Hong Kong…..
At her age, Ah Ma cannot travel anymore……
It was almost 2am, his eyes too tired from reading… Chun turned off the lights, was lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling, and started thinking about his sweet sweet childhood and all the moments that he spent with his grandma as he closed his eyes.
Two minutes later, his right hand reached for his iPhone which was on the floor. He rang his mother:
“- What happened Son? How come you’re awake at such hour?
– Mum, I should come back to Hong Kong in January even if the air ticket costs me 3000 euros!”
That night, Chun hadn’t slept so well since a long time.
16:00 – (in the studio Petipa) Just finished the rehearsal with Pontus Lidberg, a Swedish choreographer who is creating a new piece for us. The “research” and the working process is fun and much enriching. But hey, don’t overtire yourself, remember that you’ve a performance tonight. Do a little bit of stretching now.
16:15 – (back in the changing room) You should start to get prepared at 17:30, so you have a little bit more than an hour now, lie down and have a nap.
16:43 – (lying down in the changing room) “Mais non! C’est pas ça! Regarde, attends ‘ttends, regarde moi ça,” “Hahahahha! Wa le bâtard!”, “Hé oh! Vous vous calmez maintenant! Il y a des gens qui dorment”
17:20 – (changing room) On my phone reads “17:21” Okay, time to get out from your nap. Get down now. Oh I feel the nerves coming, What if I don’t succeed the difficult lift in the Red Ball? Will I be doing my spot or will I replace in the Golden Ball like the last time? I should really try things out in the Foyer before the show….. and what if I have a new partner? And what if it’s……. Chun, stop thinking go down and eat!
17:25 – (Canteen Garnier) I am not really hungry, and the food in the evening really looks and tastes like leftovers. But you have to eat otherwise when could you have dinner?
17:53 – (Plateau, make-up) The make-up artists are always smiling and kind. They really soothe my nerves. Oh, don’t forget to sign that paper later!
18:12 – (1er entresol, hairdresser) “I am sorry, my hair is a bit too long now….. must be difficult for you haha!”, “No! If you want to look like a bourgeois of the 18th century, it is perfect like this!”, “Well, maybe I’d like to have some volume in the front, but anyway I will wear a hat later in the Red Ball and hopefully it will not ruin it haha!”
18:24 – (2e Etage) Now you sign for your presence, done. Oh, okay, so you’re replacing in the Golden Ball tonight, dancing with her.
18:50 – (Changing room) Show in 40 minutes, certain dancers are already in full dress and all ready, don’t be ready too soon Chun, you’ll only have more time to get nervous before the show! Do a bit of foam rolling now.
19:15 – (Changing room) time to get dressed, I have just enough time to.
19:35 – (on stage) The ballet starts with a mime scene. Maybe try to place your hands earlier tonight for the difficult lift in Red Ball. It should be helpful. Also, you should follow your partner’s rythme……. Hey Chun! You’re on stage! Stop thinking about the Red Ball!!!!!!
20:03 – (Quick change room) Red Ball went well!!! Yeah! Much relieved. Half of the performance done for you! Can’t wait to get back home and enjoy my pasta with cheese. What should you do now? Golden Ball is in 2 hours in Act 3….. Maybe you should go to the gym.
20:31 – (Classe D, in front of the piano) I couldn’t resist when I saw a piano while going to the gym. After a bit of cardio and core exercises, I went to the piano. Piano playing consoles my soul, I need it to calm my nerves. The music keeps coming out from my fingers, my mind thinking of Golden Ball.
21:33 – (Classe D) “Mesdames et messieurs, l’acte 3 a commencé” Act 3 started, you should go down.
21:47 – (Foyer de la Danse) “Chun, do you know with whom you will dance on Monday?”, “I have no idea, why?”, “because the company told me to look at your partner’s spot, your partner is injured”, “What? Then who’s my partner tonight?” Panic.
22:00 – (on stage) “Sh**! I lost my necklace!”, “Don’t worry, it will be just fine” This time Chun was the one who is calm.
23:15 – (Avenue Mozart, walking home) Another performance done. Pasta and cheese, and my favorite reading time before sleep!
Today is Chun’s day-off. He took the time to rest and to let his body recover, to prepare himself for tomorrow’s rehearsals and performance.
He was also invited to a soirée parisienne in the evening, which made him a little nervous at first, because he didn’t know anyone there.
Arriving at the venue, he tried to walk around, and recognize nobody that he would know. Too reserved to start talking to the other guests, he took a cocktail and started observing the event from the corner of the beautiful Rotonde.
There was a little mentalist/magic show in the middle of the event, which was great. Chun wondered whether there are dancers who would perform in a reception like this.
Eventually, he started talking to others. Even though he was very curious to meet other people, Chun preferred sticking to a small number of people with whom he would have quality conversations.
There was a man who fell down on the floor, I guess from feeling ill and tired, or maybe too much alcohol? And a staff who dropped and broke a glass while serving us, it must be embarrassing for him in such a chic palace.
Meeting different people, witnessing all these, listening to others’ stories is so enriching. In life, the lived experiences will always stay with and within us, no one could ever take them from us. Let’s don’t be afraid and go find the experiences.