I am extremely excited that I now have a piano at my place so that I can play piano whenever I want/need! It looks great doesn't it!?
Today, it's Mid-Autumn Festival in China. It's one of my favorite traditional festivals when I was in Hong Kong. We used to go out at night to see the moon which is the roundest and brightest on this day of the year. We would also take some lanterns (electrical ones or traditional ones with candles inside) and then sit down and light up some candles on the ground. I have a lot of sweet memories of this festival with my cousins and my family. However, since I came to France, every year on this very special day, I feel quite lonely. It feels really strange when it's such a special day for me but nobody knows in France. Everything just keep going like a normal day. There's no holiday, no candles, no mooncakes, no one go out and see the bright and beautiful moon.........
This year is my 5th Mid-Autumn Festival without my family. I am already used to it. Luckily, my dearest host family gave me some French-Hongkongese moon-cakes which are delicious.
Yesterday, we had performance at the Opera and I went back home late after the show. Before I went up to my apartment, I looked up to the sky downstairs and saw a beautiful rounded moon in the sky as if it was saying hi to me and made me think of my family and my hometown. Now they must be celebrating lunar festival together happily with mooncakes, star fruits and candles! I wish I were with them!
While I had some free time yesterday afternoon in the Opera, I thought about Mid-Autumn Festival and made a piano cover of a song about Hong Kong that I like very much. It's called "Down the Lion Rock". The Lion Rock is a hill in Hong Kong that naturally looks like a lion. Its lyrics are really meaningful. It's about solidarity between hongkongers and other inspiring messages about our lives. I hope you like it! And Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all of you!
Yesterday night was a very special one. It was the opening of the season of the Paris Opera Ballet. I was not performing in the ballets but every dancer and student did the "Defile". After the defile, Francois Hollande, the president of France came up to the stage with several other ministers and congratulated the dancers. We were all very excited to see him and to take a picture with him. After that, the students go back to school while the dancers are invited to join the "after party" at the public area of the Palais Garnier. I went back to our changing room, put on my suit, then left the backstage to join the party outside.
I knew that it was an exceptional evening but I was very impressed when I walked into the public area of Palais Garnier. I had never seen the Opera like this before!
The famous Opera house was decorated everywhere with flowers and fancy lightings which made this beautiful main entrance even more gorgeous. Everybody was dressed very elegantly. The audience was offered a dinner in this area so there were tables everywhere. Mr. Millepied and Hollande gave a speech at the Grand Foyer. Dancers were also served with a buffet in another room. There was even a ball room downstairs where people dance with loud music and drink, for those who enjoy it! I didn't take any alcoholic drink, I only asked for some water.
As we still have a performance tonight and I felt that the party was going to last till very late, I left and went back home once I saw every part of the Opera. It was an unbelievable experience!
When we just arrived into the Paris Opera Ballet, we are always understudies ("Remplacants" in French) for the performances at first. It's one of the most difficult positions in a ballet performance since understudies seldom get to dance during the rehearsals. They would just watch and learn every spot of the corps de ballet at the side. I can tell you that it's a horrible thing when we are called to replace an injured dancer only 10 minutes before the start of the show! So the understudies must know the choreography, each spot, all the patterns, the musicality..... very well in order to be able to replace somebody at the very last minute. However, since we don't have to dance during hours, days and weeks of rehearsals, those who lose their self motivation would just sit there and wait for the end of the day without paying attention to every correction that the ballet masters give to the dancers. Also because the ballet masters would only look at the dancers who are actually dancing during rehearsals and kind of ignore those who are learning at the back. I feel that the understudies need to have a strong self-motivation to mark all the steps at the side every single time when the dancers rehearse instead of just sitting there.
This year I'm trying to finnish my French A-level exam (Baccalaureat). I only have got one more year to go then I will have an A-level academic certificate. However, since I'm no longer in the school, I will have to study everything by myself. This situation reminds me a lot of my role as an understudy now in the Paris Opera Ballet. I need very strong self-motivation to study everything by myself. When I have some free time, I could choose not to study like I would choose to just sit down during the rehearsals. But what head would keep telling me to try my very best and thus drive me to study whenever I can and to mark the steps all the time with the dancers!! This year is the year of the self-motivation challenge. Chun Wing, I hope that you could do it!
Tonight, the Paris Opera Ballet had a final dress rehearsal of its gala of the opening of the season. At every opening of season, the ballet company would do a "Defile" which is a parade of all the dancers of the company at the Palais Garnier. The stage of the Opera Garnier would be opened up and deepened til the beautiful dance studio right behind the stage called the "Foyer de la Danse". The students, the dancers and the Etoiles would walk down this long stage to greet the audience. With a royal music (used to be Bector Herlioz "Marche des Troyens" then this year changed to the original music in the 1920s "March in Tannhauser" of Wagner), this is one of my favorite moments of the year. I have done this defile several times already when I was a student of the school. However, I did it tonight as a dancer of the company for the first time. I was very proud and much more than happy! This will be a moment to remember. We will do it again this Thursday when the Premiere will take place.
I actually started my contract with the Paris Opera Ballet one week later than I supposed to because of the paperwork that I had to do. It is very complicated and very slow and finally I was not able to finish dealing with it before the company starts the rehearsals in Paris. So I was quite worried at the beginning as I have to pick up everything that I had missed. But finally everything went fine and I started my professional career with joy and enthusiasm!
Tomorrow will be our first rehearsal for the "Défilé": the yearly traditional parade of the Paris Opera Ballet at the opening of the season in which every student from its school and every dancer would walk down the stage with a beautiful royal march music.
However, with Benjamin Millepied's arrival, they are going to change the music of the Defile that we used since 1945. We are going to reuse the music of its original version by Leo Staats. That's why I'm very excited for tomorrow's stage rehearsal! I have never seen the original version!
Apart from that, I'm enjoying my new life very much so far! I feel like living my dream! I especially enjoy the morning company classes in the studios of the Palais Garnier taught by wonderful teachers. I also bought myself a digital piano at home so that I won't miss music so much! It's a gift from my parents and I absolutely love my piano! By the way, here's a video of me playing "Let it Go" from Disney's Frozen in one of the studios in Palais Garnier. We had a 2-hours break after the rehearsals in the afternoon before the stage rehearsal starts. So I went into a studio and played the piano alone! I made a lot of mistakes and the sound quality is bad.... but I hope you like it :)