"Dance is bigger than the physical body. Think bigger than that. When you extend your arm, it doesn't stop at the end of your fingers, because you're dancing bigger than that: you're dancing spirit."

~ Judith Jamison ~

My Dance Story

~I've decided to tell my dance story...as an inspiration to other dancers and dancer-to-bes. Enjoy!~

I first started dancing at the age of 5...and took my first Primary RAD exam at 7. Unfortunately, my parents stopped my classes when we shifted to a new town that did not offer ballet classes. When a Yamaha School was set up there a few years later, I dragged my mother to the school to let me sign up for classes. I was so upset when I found out they didn't have classes "for my age and grade at the moment". On the other hand, I guess my parents were quite relieved as my piano lessons were already eating into their pockets.

I continued on with life of course =P...but still looking with envy at other girls dressed in pink leotard and skirts on their way to ballet lessons. My passion still burned in me...and grew as I read ballet story books at the Tampines Regional Library. When I finished reading all the ballet books available, I had to switch libraries...

Just when I thought I could find no more ballet books to read, I chanced upon an RAD guidebook for Pre-primary to Grade 5. Using my window sill as a barre while I carefully copied the pictures in the book which I placed on a music stand, I began my self-taught ballet at the age of 13. Soon I found that I wasn't able to understand the steps on my own. What made me decide I had to find a teacher was this step called "glissades". It was mind-boggling...the pictures only showed poses of the movement...but nothing between the poses. (yeah, I didn't have internet at that time for me to click on "glissades" and watch a real dancer execute the step)

I started calling up dance schools in the yellow pages...I was going nuts...I just had to dance! The rates they quoted to me were all for adult beginners...which were too expensive for someone like me with an $18/week allowance. I finally found my beloved teacher, Mrs Lim Soo Chern through a church friend. I was 15. Mrs Lim allowed me to stomp around her studio with the rest of her Grade 6 students...letting me find my way. My fellow classmates were extremely helpful, agreeing to come down earlier every week to coach me just before lessons.

2 yrs later, I took my Intermediate Foundation (RAD Vocational Exams)...with a sprained ankle. Yeah I was seriously depressed and freaked out about my ankle. But things turned out okay. The next few years I took Grades 6-8, achieving perfect scores for Grades 6 & 7. My Grade 6 was done with my still-recovering ankle, and Grade 7 was done with a fresh sprain on the other leg. Grade 8 was done with stress fractures on both legs from the knees down to the feet. I found out that I had very lax ligaments...so that in addition to my late and accelerated training caused all my injuries.

I finally did my latest examination in 2005 (Intermediate RAD) with a pinched nerve in my foot which didn't allow me to dance for the crucial last 2wks before the exams. So far, I have danced with SDT in the role of snowflakes in The Nutcracker in Dec 2005 (with the pinched nerve and a sprained toe) as well as "dance of the hours" in Coppelia March 2007 (for once no injury!). I'm glad that my passion has driven me to survive such "ordeals".

As a full-time ballet teacher now, my wish is to be able to pass down the art and passion of dancing.

I hope my story has inspired you! Do email me with your own stories which I would gladly post here =P

Keep on dancing and live your dreams!


Ivy said...

Hi there, I managed to pass by and "found" so much things on Ballet!=) wow~! you seems to injured your legs easily.. takecare!
Actually, I'm once a ballet dancer now. I love ballet even now when I had stopped for lessons for 1mth or so.. My family have some money-prob and I have stopped ballet. I really hope to be like you, a ballerina.=)

Sheryl said...

...Hi Joni. You might have forgotten about me, but I THINK I might have been one of the Grade 6 classmates who used to 'stomp around the studio' together with you (unless you went for another grade too, and we just didn't know :X) I'm Sheryl Li. The other classmates were Jinglin, Xin Qin, Xin Ling etc? I bumped into Xin Ling recently, missed all of you and was wondering how Mrs Lim was doing so I did a search to see if she was still at Kampong Chai Chee. Ended up on this site (do you still check it?). We used to come for the first class in the afternoon on Sunday, then fool around in the younger classes or do homework, go for dinner, and finally attend the second class at night.

Somehow, I think I always knew you'd become a dance teacher :)

Miss all of you so much! If you see this (and if you still remember who I am), do help me say hi to Mrs Lim (if you still see her at Kampong CC and if SHE still remembers me...>.<)! She has always been and will always be one of my dearest and most influential teachers. Even if she might not remember me anymore :X

,..--***--..,,..--***--..,,..--***--..,,..--***--.., said...

Hi Sheryl!!

Yes I do remember you =) Chinese dancer from Nanyang Girl's? I still check this site once in awhile, but I update the Adult Ballet Class blog more frequently.

I joined in with one batch above you at first (Tseyun's) batch..but at that time they were in their 2nd year of Grade 6...so when they were preparing for their Grade 6 exams, I jumped over to your Grade 5 class.

Come to think of it, I'm kind of missing our old classmates too! we should arrange for a reunion! Xinling and I are teaching ballet now, Melissa ballet and hiphop etc(various stuff that she's good at). I really loved those times when we hung out in between classes. I think it was really the time of my life!

I'm sure Mrs Lim remembers you. She always remembers our batch as her "least competitive" batch. Do you recall how we helped to coach each other once in awhile, and give comments for the dances? Such helpfulness in this artform is quite an achievement I think.

Let's try to arrange a get-together. Hopefully we're not caught up with our unbalanced work lives haha!

Sheryl said...

Oh my god, I totally didn't see your comment for more than a year. >___< Oh my god, so sorry. I thought this thing would ping my email if there were any follow-up comments (it said so there...T_T). Goes to show how lousy I am at all this blog stuff. Doesn't help that I don't know what the Adult Ballet Class blog is or how to leave messages anywhere else but here. Even this site was an accident for me!

"Least competitive"? There was competition in the other batches? That's so mind-boggling, especially since most of our class practically grew up together O_O

Yeah, I heard that Xinling and Melissa were teaching dance. I haven't been in contact with anyone though...especially since I don't use social media at all, so I actually have no idea how to contact the rest of them :( Do you keep in contact with the rest? It'll be nice to get-together. I want to see Mrs Lim again T_T