This is the first time since four years I celebrated the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong with my family. It was such a treat for me, I missed this festival a lot. I had a lot of good food, visited all the family and some of my teachers. Apart from that, I also took the chance to audition for the Hong Kong Ballet which was a successful one. I'm also very happy to have the chance to be with my grandma who is sick....... After two weeks of this lovely holiday, I'm flying back to Paris tomorrow morning. I will not return to Hong Kong until summer, after the holy "Concours" for the Paris Opera Ballet. So I'm feeling quite uneasy right now to leave my family and Hong Kong again.........
The Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is really festive. I was away from Hong Kong during this festival since 4 years and now I realize how important this festival is in Hong Kong. We see decorations everywhere: on the street, inside the shops and even in the MTR stations (the metro railway in Hong Kong). Even the advertisements on TV became different wishes to the public on behalf of their company. We hear new year chinese songs everywhere too. It's very interesting to see these things again.
Grandma was very happy to see me back. However, she's coughing a lot since several months. We are very worried but we refuse any further medical check for her problem. She is 89 years old, so whatever the problem is, being happy and comfortable would be the most important. I love my grandma very much. I really hope that this new year of the Sheep would bring her good health and plenty of happiness. God bless her!
I have been spending the last two months of 2014 with the Paris Opera Ballet. Let me talk about this unexpected and marvelous experience.......
After my audition for the Paris Opera Ballet in July 2014, in which I was not accepted by the prestigious company despite the number of places (Four for boys, which is a lot for the Paris Opera), I have been hesitating a lot whether to do another year with the Paris Opera School or not in order to be able to audition for the company the year after. This option seemed less interesting to me than to try entering a less prestigious company somewhere else. Unfortunately (but finally fortunately!), I couldn't find a contract outside since all the auditions for the season 2014-2015 were over by July 2014. Thought that I would learn a lot more in a company than in the school repeating the same year, I was quite disappointed. However, here came a surprise! The Paris Opera Ballet called me to join them for the production La Source, which rehearsals and performances would take place during November and December.
I was quite nervous and at the same time excited the first day. I didn't have any rehearsals that day but just a warm up class with the company. Of course I was quite worried about how the other excellent dancers of the company would think of me. Maybe I was not concentrated during the class because of that, I sprained my ankle the first day....... I was very upset, not wanting to ruin this opportunity, I try my very best to help myself recover from my injury as fast as possible. Luckily, this injury only stopped me from dancing for two weeks. After those two weeks I was able to dance again during the rehearsals.
At the beginning I didn't have a lot of rehearsals. When the rehearsals get more and more intense by mid-November, I started to be very tired. I had to prepare at the same time for the performances with the company which the premiere was on 28th November, and at the same time when the other dancers had a rest day, I went to school to rehearse for the Demonstrations which took place during December. It was a good occasion to force me to learn how to manage my fatigue and stress. But who knew that my time table just got more and more packed.......
Only one week before the Premiere of La Source, during a rehearsal, an administrator of the Paris Opera Ballet walked towards me very slowly from the other side of the studio, staring at me with a strange smile, from that moment, I knew that he was going to tell me something unbelievable. I was right, he said "Chun, (yes that's how everyone in the Opera calls me), I'm afraid that you will have to learn the role of the Elfes too.....". While I was only learning the corps du ballet part, the Elfes in La Source, is a role for the Sujets. (Equivalent to Soloists as in most of the other companies) Under huge shock, wondering how I could learn that technically quite difficult role in only one week with no rehearsal, I asked him to give me a DVD so that I could learn all the steps on my own. I tried my best to learn everything within a day, and I must say that it was not easy. Learning those brilliant French petites batteries from a wide-shot performance recording is not easy.
Finally I danced that role in 9 performances out of 23 where I did the corps de ballet part in the others. At the same time I was asked to not to skip the academic studies in the morning at the Paris Opera Ballet School, and I was no more allowed to take the warm up class with the company. So my life was like: "academic studies at 9 in the morning at school, ballet class at school from 13:00 to 15:30, then at 17:00 I would know which role and which spot I would be dancing that night for the performance in the Opera, performance from 19:00 to 22:00, arrived home at 23:00, and then between the kitchen, landry and my stuffs for the next day, I went to bed from 0:00 - 1:00. Then the next day, same thing. This drove me nearly crazy. I have never been that busy and that tired physically before.
What made me very touched is that the strict choreographer of La Source, Mr. Jean Guillaume Bart, seemed to have appreciated my work and gave me very good compliments in front of the other dancers. The dancers even clapped their hands for me several times, which gave me chills and heavenly feelings. Once I was so touched that a few drops of tears came out.......
Now that this contract is over and that I already returned to school, these two months feel like a dream to me. I thought, if I was accepted by the Paris Opera Ballet in July, would I be given this chance to do a Sujet role since I was the only student in La Source? And what if I found a contract somewhere else during summer 2014 and that I left Paris? As my grandma always told me "Everything happens for a reason, if something belongs to you, it always does...." Oh! How God plans everything flawlessly!
Chun Wing has actually reached his dream: to dance with a prestigious ballet company. Whatever comes next, I should accept with confidence and joy. :)
I remember that I was afraid of the change before the audition for the Paris Opera Ballet last year. Since there were 8 posts offered in total for boys and girls, I thought that I would have a good chance to enter the company. It seemed too soon to me to start my professional career, I was a little bit nervous for the change from a student to a professional. What scared me the most is that the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet have very few holidays. The longest rest period would be during summer for two weeks. I told myself "What? In three months time I may become a professional dancer? Living alone? Managing everything on my own? I might only return to Hong Kong once a year during summer? Which means no more Christmas, Chinese New Year, Mooncake.... in Hong Kong until the end of my career?"
Since the Chinese calendar is offset from the occidental calendar, it's very rare that the Chinese new year holiday in Hong Kong corresponds to the French holiday. Finally I didn't get in the Paris Opera, and this year, magically, the Chines New Year is just on the right time! During the French term break in February! Once I noticed that, I quickly booked my flight back to Hong Kong to celebrate my first Chinese New Year, which is a festival that I like a lot, since I came to France.
I'm now posting this in Paris, just before my departure to the airport. The taxi arrives in 20 min! I really can't wait! Just hope that I will not get fat from eating too much food that I have been missing so badly!
Bye Paris, see you in two weeks :)
I started another year at the Paris Opera Ballet School with a totally new attitude. It was probably because of the disappointing results of the Concours in July last year. I have been feeling less stressed, freer and happier in general. I told myself that this is definitively my final year, so I must enjoy it as much as I can. In addition, I have the chance to travel around the world to audition for different companies which is very exciting for me. At the beginning when I started looking for auditions in different companies, I realized that it is actually much more difficult to find a contract somewhere than to find a place in a ballet school. Some of the companies that I would really like to join such as the Royal Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet and the Vienna State Opera Ballet don’t have any contracts left to offer. It was also a challenge for me to manage the trips on my own from booking flights to finding an accommodation. So far I have been to Madrid for the Victor Ullate Ballet; Montreal for the Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and Berlin for the Berlin State Opera Ballet. Let me share each of my experiences with you.
My first trip was in Madrid and it was very much relieved because it was a success. I have been worrying about whether I could have a place in the ballet world since the Concours. So I was very happy to know that I was appreciated by an artistic director of a ballet company but not only a ballet school director! It was a private audition so I was the only one who was auditioning. I took a company class with the other dancers in the morning and talked to the artistic director, who is Eduardo Lao, after the class. I felt very good during the class and I think I did quite well. Mr. Lao said that I had beautiful body lines and a strong French technique that they liked a lot. He also noticed that I was not a tall dancer but he told me that there were other small male dancers in the company and that they wouldn’t mind. He was also conscious that I was going to do the Concours d’entrée for the Paris Opera Ballet again in July 2015. “Keep in touch! And let us know if the Paris Opera Ballet doesn’t take you next year!”, he said.
A friend of mine was dancing professionally in Madrid so I contacted him before my trip. He so kindly let me stay at his flat during my stay. I also met his Japanese partner who seemed to be a very good dancer too. We had a very good time talking about ballet together! He took me to the theatre on the day of the audition and asked to watch our class. After the audition, he took me around the city for sight-seeing, which was very enjoyable after a successful audition!
The Victor Ullate Ballet seemed to be a quite small company with a small number of dancers but a very good atmosphere between them. The theatre was newly built and the studios were very nice. They also have a large variety of dancers. Some were very strong in classical technique, others were stronger in contemporary work. I also met a Chinese female dancer and one Tahitian dancer who spoke perfect French and who graduated from the Paris Opera Ballet School.
After this first audition comes a surprise: The Paris Opera Ballet called me for the production La Source, which has been the most precious experience I have ever had. My last performance with them was on the last day of the year, in a role of “Sujet”: Les Elfes. When I returned to school after 6 days of rest, it was time to prepare for the next audition which was in Montreal.
This second audition was a little more challenging than the previous one in Madrid because I had never been to North America. I was a little bit worried about the difference of culture and the weather. I have been to Montreal during their coldest moment of the year (-20 to -30 degrees Celcius!) Montreal was quite far from Paris too (7 – 8 hours by plane). Luckily, the audition was very successful too. I spent a whole week in Montreal and took 3 morning company classes. The classes were actually quite easy and I enjoyed them so much. Like the last time, the director (Gradimir Pankov) talked to me after my third and last class and told me that he liked me a lot. He was curious to know why I would choose to come to his company. I explained to him that I didn’t get into the Paris Opera Ballet last year so I was looking for a good company. He then looked a little bit shocked and asked me what the reason was. I told him that the Paris Opera often makes decisions without giving us any reasons. “I have never accepted a dancer just by watching him in class. The company is also full at the moment, we will renew the contracts in February and by then we will know who will go and who will stay. I will keep you posted about that.”, the director said.
I stayed with a very nice family during that week in Montreal. They have been very kind to me and took me around the city by car each day after the audition. I think they were very happy to listen to my story because they haven’t known any ballet dancers before.
Just one week after I returned to Paris from Montreal, I went to Berlin for only 2 days for an audition at the Berlin State Opera Ballet.
The night before the audition, I went to their website and took a look at the dancers of the Berlin State Opera Ballet. I noticed that they have got very few Asians and most of the dancers are not as young. So I guessed that my chance would be limited.
The audition was actually very strange. We were asked to fill in a form before entering the warm-up studio. In that form, except basic information like age, height, CV…etc. we also had to put whether we had a residence and working permit in Germany. There were a class for girls and another class for boys, which came after. We were more than 100 boys during the class! I wondered how the directors could look at each one of us. Anyways, I tried my best to be in the front line during the class so that I wouldn’t be hidden behind other candidates. Once again I enjoyed the class very much and I think I didn’t do too badly. However, unfortunately, only 6 boys were chosen for the next round and I was not one of the six.
Even so, I learnt a lot from this short trip to Berlin. It was the first time that I had the courage to stand in front of the others during a class. Apart from that, since it was an open audition, I had the opportunity to see other dancers from all around the world who are also looking for a contract like me. So now I have an idea of how I am comparing to the others on an international scale.
These experiences have been extremely precious to me. It seems to me that I have started entering the professional ballet world, which is very exciting. Following these three auditions, I will possibly try the Dresden Ballet (Semperoper Ballett), the Joffrey Ballet (audition in Paris), the Hong Kong Ballet (during my autumn break in Hong Kong) and the San Francisco Ballet. I promise to continue doing my very best in everything that my destiny brings to me. I believe this is the best and the only way to thank all those who helped and supported me so much and who made me become who I am today.