And he stood quietly in the queue

Sometimes, I wonder about the importance of how much we think we are worth – the thing that triggers confidence or cockiness.

There are a lot of whiners. That, as a matter of fact, I know. When I say this, I think about a theatre critic who was known to complain about journeys out of London and therefore almost rarely write about performances out of town. My mental image of this person is that s/he’d be standing at the box office demanding his all important free press ticket… because the show needs good rating to sell.

And I wasn’t proven wrong. As I stood behind the box office of our company’s London premiere, journalists jumped the long  queue and squeezed past everyone to ask for their (again, all important free press) tickets. When there weren’t any, they started name dropping, “so and so invited me. I should be on the guest list. I should have a ticket under my name.” And we, those behind the box office, either: scrambled through the pile of tickets, found nothing and apologetically said please bear with me a second; or put on a stern / friendly face (depends on what works) and said we are really sorry but do you mind joining the queue again like everyone else to wait to be served but secretly hoping that we wouldn’t offend them?

It was 5 minutes before the stated start time. There I was, wondering how on earth tickets could have gone missing and how unapologetic people can be for turning up during the busiest time yet expecting VIP treatment.

And then I saw him.

He stood quietly in the queue.

His gaze was fixated on the screens which were showing promotional trailers for upcoming performances. His backpack casually hung off his shoulder. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the theatre foyer, he was calm and quiet. And patient.

But out of every single person I served tonight, he was the one who could have felt the most right to stomp through all other almost-latecomers and demand for his ticket.

I told my boss (who by now looked a bit worried by the absence of this guest), “Danny Boyle is over there.”

++++

I remembered the first time I met Danny Boyle. My boss said his car broke down on the way and wanted me to welcome Danny on his behalf while he got the car fixed.

Danny Boyle is famous. He is also important to the company. I was new on the job, and I was nervous. I googled for his photograph, hoping that I would recognise when he turned up so to give him the warmest welcome.

15 minutes later, my boss rang me and asked, “Is Danny there?” “Yes.” “Is he alone?” “Yes.” “What is he doing now?” “Talking.” “With who?” “Me.” A pause… of surprise? “OK I will be there soon.”

Yes, I would imagine that Danny Boyle would have whipped out his phone and pretend to be busy to be talking to unimportant characters like me. But he didn’t. I spoke, he listened and responded in a way that the conversation could continue. And I found out that he took the tube and walked to the meeting place, and would still take the tube back to the film set, or wherever he was going to.

++++

“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle.” 

This was quoted in an interview with Danny Boyle, and it stuck in my head.

++++

Danny Boyle stood in the queue quietly. His backpack casually hung off his shoulder. His gaze spoke about an inquisitive soul. Just like the first time I met him.

And I wonder, is it because of humility that made talented people, great?

Job application: Crafting the recruiters’ experience?

One of the most useful lessons that I learnt in the past two years or so has something to do with marketing. Here are the few thoughts that I came up with:

1. Target marketing. Always. It is quality, not quantity.

2. Good marketing is like a good piece of art. It gets the audience emotional (excited, sad, shocked); captures imaginations; or as Ash wrote, “makes the intangible, tangible” – couldn’t agree with her more.

3. Depends on the subject to market, do allow space for input. It means being flexible, for opportunities might just seep into that intentional gap that was left open.

Recently I have been in the midst of job search (for myself as well as for Tyas). Job hunt, as everyone knows, involves a lot of marketing oneself: CV, LinkedIn and introductory emails that worked as cover letter…

Lots of effort were needed for each application (target marketing!), but secretly I wished recruiters experience something like this:

See a “me” – in 3D, perhaps; imagine hologram projection – on the two pieces of paper known as my CV

or this:

Hear me talking to them directly – with emotions, possibly hand gestures and facial expressions – by reading black words against white background, also known as my CV

In an era where humans are represented by numbers and IDs, if words alone provide an experience to the reader without any gimicky bold, underline or italics, I mean, it is kind of cool, isn’t it? Also the fact that you, as a candidate, are crafting an experience for your recruiter – what’s the word, empowered? 🙂

PS: This was the second time I went on a job hunt since university graduation. It was not unlike the first time, and the process and outcome was pretty interesting!

Clean-up

It is a time of change, and there is a lot of cleaning up to be done:

  • All those ticket stubs and programme notes that I collected in the last 5 years.
  • All those magazines and journals that I kept, thinking that I would read them within the week.
  • All those drafts that I planned to email myself (as another form of “Dear Diary”).
  • All those drafts with topics that I thought were amazing to write about for the blog.

I would be pretty happy if I can clean all of them up by the end of June.

It is not as if I would start fresh, but I would have tracked what had changed and what had not, and I damn hope there is change in a good way.

“About me (and dance)”

I wrote this for the facebook page of Celestar School of Performing Arts. (Original link click here.. Thanks to my teacher Celeste for putting this up!). Had it ready in an hour or so. Gotta say it’s one of the quickest post I’ve written, yet most sincere.

I tell people that I am trained in ballet and American jazz, and did contemporary, Kathak (one of the 9 classical Indian dances) and African People’s Dance, but I can’t actually remember how my affair with dance started because I do have a very bad memory and most important of all, “dance is me”. Don’t get me wrong though, it is not that I am a professional dancer or I have no other interests besides dance. But everything I do now, I owe it to this extraordinary art form. My first dance class, after a long period of no-dance, never fails to make me feel like I am finally home again and finally found myself again.

When I was young, there was no shortage of extra-curricular classes out of school – ballet, piano, drawing, maths etc. By the time I was 17, the only “subject” left was ballet (RAD syllabus), and on top of that, I was the president of dance society in high school and participant of an outreach project organised by a HK-based Malaysian choreographer. My weekly dosage of dance must be around 19 hours.

After graduating from high school, I obediently chose to do a conventional degree and filled my life with art and design, and the occasional gym sessions. No dance. It must have felt like the end of me because a few months later, I said goodbye to college and turned up at the studio of Celestar Studio of Performing Arts where I told Celeste, “I am applying to do a dance degree in the UK and I have a year to train seriously before this degree starts. Also, I am not planning to be a performer.”

And so my weekly dosage of dance was now 35 hours (I think?!). I am and will always be thankful for this one year where I was closest to dance because of the things I learnt.

I learnt that being disciplined brings you right to the end without you even realising the tough times along the way. I learnt that being able to control the body is one of the most precious abilities a human could have because “taking action” is what really matters. I learnt that it is not all about being in control – being able to relax, let go and just trust yourself often bring the best results. I learnt the importance of being focused on the right things without losing awareness of the environment and voices around. I learnt that you are a star not when you are the best amongst the crowd, but when you are the most confident with yourself (knowing you are the best you can be).

Honestly, I did not sit around writing up this list in that year. I just rushed from dance classes to dance classes. I just practised. I just listened to the music and kept practising. I just tried to continue dancing when all I thought I could do was collapse from tiredness. I just danced, and had a not-so-glorious Level 4 graduation concert (pointe shoes fell off during the performance, anyone?) a few weeks before I came to the UK for university.

And the rest came and went. I didn’t dance a lot on this degree but I did pass the CSoPA’s Level 5 exam over a summer break (still wonder how I managed that). I did a management-based placement year at Dance UK (an advocacy organisation for dance in the UK). I graduated with a first class in BA (Hons) Dance and Culture. My first and also current job is at Akram Khan Company, working for one of the most inspiring choreographers and most amazing dance producers. Many of my other adventures had had something to do with dance: be it going to the USA to work at a summer performing arts camp and then did my first solo travelling after; be it visiting Uganda and be totally inspired by the amazing Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU) project; etc.

Dance is rawest form of expression therefore the most powerful and empowering art form or even form of communication. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui had beautifully put my thoughts in his message for International Dance Day this year (http://www.international-dance-day.org/en/index.html). My journey in dance is not stopping there even though working in dance management does mean that I get to do everything related to dance but dance a lot myself. Sad case, but as I said, it is impossible for me to not have dance – even if I lost everything, everyone, I still have my body and I can dance and be at home; if I lost my body then my mind shall continue to dance – and so be it.

20120605-225840.jpg

20120605-225851.jpg