Reporters: Jennifer Xu, Joana U, Stephanie Chan
Editor: Hazel Chung
Many Hong Kong parents might be worried if their kids told them they wanted to become dancers. The perception is that dancers are people who did not excel academically and did not have many choices after leaving school.
In reality, many dancers are graduates who have given up potentially lucrative professions to work hard at pursuing their dreams.
Ho Ka-yan an Economics graduate inform the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), says she followed society’s prescribed routine by studying for a degree. But she never liked it. Instead, dancing is what makes her feel alive and gives her a sense of self.
This caused tensions in her relationship with members of her family because they equated dancing with “being bad”. However, she thinks they should support her instead, since she is confident that she has found the most meaningful and valuable thing in her life.
Cheung Tsz-kwan, who is studying Business Administration at CUHK, is also passionate about dance. She wants to teach it as she enjoys sharing and inspiring others through doing what she loves.
Cheung says she will finish her studies because a degree will her safety net. But she has no ambitions to get a job at a big company and work steadily up the corporate ladder. Instead she just wants to find a stable job that will allow her to carry on dancing in her spare time.
Cheung admits that her dance schedule of five to six sessions a week does not leave her much time to study. Instead of what she gets out of dance, she can only list what dance takes out of her – time and energy. Still, she is compelled to do it because her passion for dancing means she is prepared to make sacrifices.
Perhaps Cheung can take a leaf out of Fiona Chan’s book. Chan graduated from the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and now works as a part-time dancer and full-time clerk.
Chan has been dedicated to dance since she was a student. At university, she worked very hard as a private tutor to earn enough money to join an exchange programme in America. There, she met and danced with world-renowned professional dancers.
Chan works hard to achieve a work-life balance. She insists that instead of tiring her out after work, dancing gives her a fresh burst of energy. A physically demanding session of dance energises her for another day of work.
Dance gives her more self-confidence and self-assurance. Without it, Chan says she would have been a very shy person, someone who did not do well at school and who would have been looked down upon by her peers. For Fiona Chan, dance was a turning point in life. “I can’t say dance is my life, but dance changes my life,” she says.