Today is a Gift

Today is a gift

From me to you.

Pay attention, so you don’t miss

What I’m trying to say.

Look at the flowers dancing in the breeze.

Look at the brand new roses, blooming in your garden.


Can you feel the warm embrace of the sun?

The bright blue sky, smiling at you.

The trees and grass, happy to see you.


It is all from me to you.


And if you listen closely, you will hear in the wind

all that I’m trying to say to you.


I’m here.

Take a deep breath.

I’m always here.


All will be well.


All will be well.

Posted in Me

The Worst Movie Ever? or Misogyny is Hilarious!

My dear friends, this post is not ballet related, but I need an outlet, so excuse me whilst I rant.


This Saturday, Rob and I went on a trip to the Bournemouth seaside. That’s where we met 6 years ago during university, where we first lived together, where he proposed. We were having a lovely time when the weather turned and we could not stand the cold anymore. We decided to go to the cinema, and watch American Reunion. We watched American Pie in our teens and liked the first movie, so were hoping for a funny, nostalgic afternoon.
We just sat there, slack-jawed and in awe. Not only was the movie ridiculously unfunny, but it was also ridiculously offensive.  The plot goes like this: it is their 13 year High School Reunion, so the original American Pie cast members all go back to their home town to celebrate. Hilariousness does not ensue. I would be angry enough at having spent money to watch an awful movie, but I was fuming at all the offensive and outright messed-up CR*P on the screen.
In one scene, there were scores of half-naked teenage girls having a party, when they are joined by the main characters, who are in their 30s. Well, we know they are not really teenagers, but we are told that they are ‘high school chicks’, celebrating an 18th birthday. We are supposed to find all of it funny, not at all creepy.
At possibly the most troubling sequence (and that is saying something) Kara, the birthday girl, is too drunk to drive and Jim (her 31 year old neighbour) offers to drive her home. Kara is drunk and randy, so she strips down to her thong with and tries to get intimate with Jim. He almost crashes the car and she passes out. Being a total idiot, Jim calls all his buddies to come help him get the unconscious girl back in her house. He has the courtesy to cover her with a beach towel. Stifler, possibly the biggest twat of all cinema history, gets really excited at the sight of the UNCONSCIOUS, half-naked 18 year old and tries to get the towel off, but he is stopped by his friends.


But fear not! As Jim tries to carry the UNCONSCIOUS girl into her house, the towel gets stuck on a bush and is ripped off, exposing her naked breasts to the audience. Hilarious. She eventually wakes up and parades around naked for a while more, but finally passes out in her bedroom, quickly followed by Stifler, who sees this as an opportunity for more UNCONSCIOUS boobies.


This is not ok!


After the movie, we actually enumerated all the separate instances of potential sexual offences, and our number reached the dozens. Rob is great at these things and he once spotted a rape in Sixteen Candles.


This is a highlight of sexual offences found in American Reunion:
–       Stifler walks around his office slapping almost every woman’s bottom until he reaches his office.


–       At the lake, some teenage boys steal bikini tops, leaving girls with no choice buy expose themselves (if not a sexual offence, than at least theft).


–       Stifler doing his vagina-shark bit at the lake. (swimming underwater and biting unsuspecting girls in their lady parts)


–       Attempt to strip an unconscious girl. (the previously described sequence).

Did any of the girls in this movie try to get Stifler arrested? Nope. Did they attempt to slap Stifler? Nope? Did they at the very least complain? Nope. They react with a little yelp, a roll of the eyes, and a frowny face. Almost every woman in this movie was a non-threatening, infantilized sex-object This was all framed as COMEDY! And does anyone bother telling Stifler that he is a sex offender who might need help? No, he is celebrated as a beloved character.
I know people will dismiss this criticism saying American Reunion is a guys movie, and just a bit of fun. Well, Rob is a guy and he hated this movie. When the credits started, he turned to me and said: ‘This is the most misogynistic movie I have ever seen.’


He was right and we both despaired at the audience of teenage boys and girls hooting with laughter at the hideousness of screen. We felt like yelling:
No! It is not funny!! This movie is not funny!!
Misogyny is not funny!
Vulnerable, UNCONSCIOUS 18 year olds are not funny!!
Sexual offences are not funny!!!
Am I the only that is deeply offended by this movie? I really hope not…


Swan Lake, Hope and Prayer

A while ago, I could not get Swan Lake out of my head.  Which was weird to me, since I was never a big fan of the ballet. But for some reason, the music, the Swan theme, kept on playing in my head. I decided to do something about it and embarked on a quest. I downloaded the entire score, and listened carefully. Firstly to the entire score, then only on the music for the White Acts.

That music… oh that music is just heavenly. The Swan theme is just so beautiful, sad, filled with tragedy, melancholy and longing. But also, strangely, hope. The more I listened, the more that music seemed to me like a prayer… a prayer from the heart, a desperate plea for something… redemption? love? freedom? happiness? I don’t know… But for me, that music represents Odette’s heart and its incessant prayer and its relentless hope.

Hope and prayer… the more I listened to the score, the more this seemed clear to me. One of teh most beautiful moments in the score, is the last minute or so before the end of the final act (is that called apotheosis or something? please forgive the lack of technical terms). The tune changes, the chords become light, the music makes me think of relief, disbelief, peace, happiness. It sounds to me, like a prayer being answered…

It was around this time that I watched Of Gods and Men, a movie about Trappist monks living in Algeria during the Civil War. It is one of the most moving, beautiful movies I have ever seen and it resonated with something deep inside of me. At a key moment, almost at the end of the movie, we hear the Swan theme. I started crying at that scene and did not stop for a long time.

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men

The faith and love of the monks is overwhelming, but their doubt is familiar, and human.

This seems to surprise people, but I have faith. Well, at least, I try to have it. Faith in the future, in love, in an intelligence that is beyond my understanding, that everything happens for a reason and that someone or something out there, is looking after us.

It was with all this in mind that I started watching different versions of Swan Lake, trying to understand the music, the narrative, and the truth of the ballet. Some versions were garish, some were silly, some were very silly, something were quite clinical, and some were absolutely beautiful. The first time I cried was during Act II of La Scala’s version, with Roberto Bolle and Svetlana Zakharova. don’t really like this version, and was bored stiff by ACT I.  I don’t care much for Bolle, but Zakharova was breathtaking. I forgot that Bolle was even on stage, but her response to the choreography and the music resonated with me. I finally began to understand Odette with her interpretation.

I don’t like Royal Ballet’s version. I think it is too shiny, and a wee bit camp. I mean in Act III, Von Rothbart has evil looking dwarves around him. The White Acts are beautiful, and Marianela Nunez Odette is so delicate and her Act II pas-de-deux with Thiago Soarez is actually really hot. I believed that Odette and Siegfried not only loved each other, but wanted each other. Her forgiveness in ACT IV is so touching… But I find all the glitter and sparkle of the non-white Acts distracting…

My absolute favourite though is American Ballet Theatre’s version. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw me losing it a little over the ABT dancers, especially Herman Cornejo and Marcelo Gomes. But the entire ballet made sense to me, as a narrative, for the very first time. Siegfried’s emptiness and longing, Odette’s sadness, hope and forgiveness. Everything just clicked.

For me, Odette had faith. In love, in freedom, in a happy ending. In something that would end her suffering. She also had doubts, but chose to believe in Siegfried anyway and follow her heart.  I’m not saying she was religious, but having faith does not have to mean adherence to any religion.

It can simply mean having hope that there will be brighter days ahead.

This period has been a tricky period for me and my family, and I find myself listening to Swan Lake a lot.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit down, and was drawn to watch a few clips of Swan Lake on youtube. This time, I watched Yuhui Choe (whom I love) and her performance is so, so beautiful.

It made me feel better.

But as I keep on listening to the music in my head, I keep on thinking of faith, of longing and of hope.

There are many orders of Monks that believe that by praying for all humanity, they can help the world become a better place.

Whatever you believe, it can be quite comforting to know that someone, somewhere, is praying for you.

The woman in my head

Hi everyone. I haven’t written in ages. I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your lovely comments in my last post. I was so tangled up with crazy deadlines and the wedding… But they’ve meant so much to me!

You can see that the blog has changed a little. That’s because I have changed.

One of the first posts I wrote was called When I look in the mirror and it was inspired by Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness. That book stayed with me and made me start to question many things about the world around me. What stayed with me the most was the fact that as a child, I watched Ally McBeal and used to dream, wish, pray, hope that I looked like Portia. As a child, and later as a teenager (and as recently as 5 minutes ago) I had issues with how I looked. I thought I was ugly, I thought I was weird, and no one would love me or want me. If only I was taller, had a symmetrical face (my facial features developed independently of each other. I have pictures to prove it), had curves, had different hair, eyes, in a nutshell, if I was a different person, maybe I would be beautiful.

Portia’s book details this exact thought process. And it really shook me to the core that this woman who I thought was absolutely stunning, thought she was absolutely hideous. This fact, that we women are always unhappy with how we look and suffer from deep image disorder, has stayed with me. I started paying more attention to the world around me and tried my best to change my own image disorder.

I grew tired of feeling inadequate. I started to educate myself on women’s issues. On an impulse, I bought Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls. I read it in one day. Then I went back to the first page, and read it again. I went back online and bought Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs. I’ve now also read it twice.

This is what I’ve learned:

I am beautiful.

I am me.

I am a feminist.

Everything I thought about feminism and a woman’s position in society, was wrong. Everything. I used to think feminism meant angry, dowdy, shouty women, complaining about femininity and romance. I was wrong. I was a child. I was a fool.

We live in a world, where everywhere you look, women are naked. Not just naked, but sexualised and objectified. There is nothing wrong with the female naked body.  I don’t believe these women that pose for playboy, Page 3 and Nuts and Zoo magazines are sluts. That is NOT my issue. But I do not think their nakedness is inspiring.  My problem is that the women in Playboy, Nuts, Page 3 etc are falling for and promoting a stereotype of female sexuality that is both WRONG and damaging.

Please, look around.

Women are naked (or half-naked) everywhere. So far, so good. There is nothing wrong with nakedness. The female body and female sexuality should be celebrated. .But, the naked images surrounding us are not about female sexuality. These images of the female body are not about celebrating beauty. They are not empowering. If they were empowering, these photos would be hung up on walls, not kept hidden under mattresses or in the toilet.  These images are primarily to incite lust in men. In them, the women all pose in the same suggestive poses. They all have big breasts, big hair, tanned skin, and a come hither look. They all seem to promote one particular aspect of womanhood.

 As Ariel Levy argues, we seem to have developed a taste for slutty stereotypes. And this stereotype is all over the place. It is so widespread that

women are socialized to objectify themselves in order to be desirable.”

Ariel Levy

And this is not empowerment or liberation. It is objectification. It is degrading. It is demeaning. And it is damaging.

And I fell for it.

When I was a teenager, I hated how I looked. I was always weird looking, not popular, I didn’t have any breasts until  after my 18th birthday. I wore glasses. I was unhappy. Ever since I was a small child I cried when I looked in the mirror (yes, I have always been dramatic).

Oh, how I wish I had read these books growing up. I tried SO hard as a teenager. I was convinced I would only get attention for my looks. I wore extremely sexy clothes, I tried flirting, I danced provocatively. But I didn’t do this because I enjoyed it. I did it because I wanted to feel wanted, I wanted attention. And since I could not get attention by being me, I tried my best to be someone else. I tried to be the stereotype.

I was so unhappy. I want to go back in time, hug my teenage self and tell her it will all be ok. She will be loved. She is beautiful. She is smart, and better than that. I would ask her about all the books she read, but didn’t talk about in school. I would tell her to listen to the music she loves, not the one everyone else is talking about. I would ask her about aliens, and science fiction. I would tell her she would be married to a wonderful man, who her best friend and loves her even when she doesn’t love herself. I would take her shopping, and we would buy some fantastic clothes. We would go dancing together, for fun! I would bring her these books and tell her not to fall for it. I would hug her. And we’d cry together.

Hindsight is a powerful thing, but it is amazing how pervasive this feeling of inadequacy still is. Not just with me, but with many women I know. I have two beautiful younger sisters who should never, ever have to feel this way. We are not happy with who we are.

For me, this is when feminism really struck a chord.The negative thoughts I had and still have about myself and the way I look are individuals acts of violence. At the very root of those thoughts, is the belief that there is something wrong with me, with the way I am, with the way I look. Is the belief that I’m not good enough.

And this belief comes from the world around us, who STILL believes there is only one way to be a woman. A world that STILL thinks there is only one way to be sexual. A world where women have to have plastic surgery and starve themselves to feel beautiful. This is a world where woman with sex lives are seen as sluts and women who are virgins are prudes. This is a world where women STILL cannot win. A world where women STILL do not receive equal pay. A world where women are STILL not properly represented in government. A world where women are STILL victims of horrible violence and STILL made to feel guilty about that violence. Don’t believe me?

Please visit Project Unbreakable.

Please search for the #ididnotreport on twitter.

Please read this article.

Please, please watch this video:

“the first step is to educate ourselves. to become aware”

Jean Kilbourne

I am not in any way suggesting that my self-esteem issues are violence of the same magnitude as physical and sexual abuse. I am saying that the root of the problem is the same belief that there is something wrong with women.

Please don’t tell me I’m overreacting. Please don’t tell me there truly is equality. Please don’t tell me we are fully liberated. I will believe that we have equality, power and liberation when this is not represented by Playboy.

I’ve had it. I’ve just had it.

The woman in my head is desperate to come out. A woman who is beautiful, strong, smart and who tries her hardest to be happy with who she is. This woman is the ballerina in my head, who dances to her own music and who stands up to stereotypes, inequality and violence. She will not be objectified. The ballerina in my head is a feminist.

And I think I am finally ready to be her. To be me.

The stars under my control - Dan-ah Kim

The stars under my control - Dan-ah Kim

Wouldn’t it be nice?

It has been over a month since I last posted here.  I am much better. I feel like me again.

I have left that old job behind, and it was like something snapped. This coincided with me going back to university, to my university, which is a place I absolutely love (nerd alert). I have started my PhD, and boy, I have a long, long journey ahead.

Today I am happy, but wistful. Very wistful. I find myself listening, singing and humming to Wouldn’t It Be Nice, by the Beach Boys, over and over and over again.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, and we wouldn’t have to wait so long…

I constantly talk to The Hubby about how our lives are just starting.  I am 24, and he is 27. I have just started a PhD and he is working and studying so hard for his career. We have so much ahead of us. So much to do. so much to live. I am excited about all this.

But sometimes I get wistful. I think to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, and we wouldn’t have to wait so long to have careers, to be able to afford ballet and football tickets, to be able to help our parents.

To have less of our current worries, and to have a whole new set of worries.

To have a family.

And wouldn’t it be nice to live together, in the kind of world where we belong…

Our friends are light-years ahead of us. Or so it seems sometimes. They earn much more, don’t need to pay for an expensive education, can afford mortgages, expensively huge weddings, and they are planning on having children soon.

We can’t have any of that. Not yet anyway.

We made different choices about our lives, and we are both working hard to achieve our dreams. But wouldn’t it be nice if we were already there? We could then have new dreams.

I think about the kind of world where we belong, our future careers, home and family.

Maybe if we think, and wish, and hope, and pray, it might come true..

I have recently found out I have a condition that renders me, shall we say, less fertile than the average woman. But our future has children in it. We have always wanted to adopt. It was one of the first things we talked about.

Our future home will be small, cramped and messy. But it will be happy, warm and full of love. Our kids may be tripping over their toys and books, sleeping on top of each other and there may only be frozen soup for dinner (I am a terrible cook). But we will all be together.

You know it seems the more we talk about it, it only makes it worse to live without it.

But let’s talk about it.

I guess everyone gets like this sometimes, it is not so much mindless ‘what ifs’, but hopeful, happy dreams for the future.

One day, hopefully we will get there. And the present is also happy.We  are finally getting married in a few months, I have started my PhD,  The Hubby is also progr. Everything feels like steps in our journey.

But sometimes, it would be nice to be already there, Wouldn’t it?


Leaving the ugly ballerina behind.

For the past few weeks things have been really, really difficult. A couple of days ago, I hit rock bottom. I had really turned that corner where everything was bad, negative, all I wanted to do was cry, scream, and hide under the covers.

I hadn’t had a ballet dream in ages. This past week, I had one. And it was awful. Everything about me was wrong. My feet were in pointes, but they were horrible, my legs were wrong, my hands looked like claws, I could not do what the other girls were doing. It was awful, so dreadful. I woke up shaking and crying. Writing about it now almost makes the tears come back.

I was not ok.

That day, I wrote a horribly negative email to a dear, wonderful friend. As I was writing that email, I saw that I had really gone around the bend and lost it. I had actually internalised and absorbed all the negativity around me, and it was clouding, poisoning my mind. That ugly, broken down ballerina in my dream was not me. It could not be. That bad dream personified my current state of mind, and as awful as it was, I am glad I had it. It made me realise that I had hit rock-bottom.

And that helped. Admitting to myself that I had lost it was the first step in starting to get things together again. I know it is a cliche, but after confronting the ugly ballerina, the only thing left for me to do was to find a way to leave it behind and climb my way out of the hole.

Yes, a lot of what is happening is due to external factors that cannot be changed at the moment. But I can’t, I absolutely CANNOT internalise it. I cannot bring it home with me. I cannot let it bring me down. I have to find a way to be strong enough shield myself against it.

Lorry at Bead 109 has written a very moving post that has really helped me in my quest to find my way out of the hole.  She also tells about an inspiring Japanese custom:


“In Japan, there is place just outside of most of the temples to find your fortune but fear not if you get a bad one because there will be a place like this to tie the bad fortune and leave it behind…”


I have also tied a ribbon where my sadness is. I see it everyday. I acknowledge it. But I don’t take it with me. I acknowledge the ugly ballerina, the ball of negativity that I had absorbed, and I move on. I try to anyway.

Amidst all this, there are so many wonderful things. I am lucky enough to have the hubby, who is my best friend and my rock. My family are getting better, and I have made fantastic friends through twitter. The bad times are almost over, and it is up to me not to let it get to me again.

That dear friend on the receiving end of my emails told me to be kinder to myself… And yesterday, I did just that by taking some time and watching my Giselle DVD.  It was wonderful.   I find so much of myself in this ballet… I’ve never danced it, I never will. But there is something so me in that ballet. Watching it made me see a vague outline of myself again.

So this is it. A pledge for this week: I will be kinder to myself. I will surround myself with things that I love, and I will pull through.

This week, I will start to pull myself together again, and working towards finding my way back to the ballerina in my head, back to me.


A Prayer for London

This is not about ballet,  but I am so saddened, worried, on edge and frankly scared about what has been happening in the past week. I need to get it out of my system.

It is difficult to write about this. My neighbourhood was quite affected by the London Riots, but it was nothing compared to other areas such as Hackney, Tottenham and Croydon. I don’t want to exaggerate anything.

Local shops were looted, gutted, and burned to the ground. People have lost their jobs. The whole community is tense and scared. These have been difficult days for a lot of people.

And yet, some media outlets and some people have been pushing the idea that these issues are somehow to do with race, immigration and the so-called ‘failure’ of multiculturalism. The situation in Tottenham that sparked this is race-related only in the sense of institutional racism and strained relationships between the Police and the black community. This is the only racial side.

I have just been reading on The Guardian that the EDL have been ‘protesting’ in north London. The BNP have called for ‘a day of action’ on Saturday. They are trying to exploit the horrible events of the last few days to push their prejudiced and dangerous agenda. Please do not let this happen.

I love London for many reasons, but the chief reason is this:

In London, you never feel like a foreigner. You always feel like you are home.

I love the diversity, the sheer passion of the people and the life that pulsates out of this city. Here, you are always home.

Yesterday, three young men died in Birmigham. Their deaths are being treated as murder. The father of one of them, Mr. Tariq Jahan spoke to the media earlier today. What did he say? He asked for calm. He asked for peace.

He said: “I lost my son today. Please step forward if you also want to lose a son tonight”.

He was asked by reporters if he blamed the police, the government, young people. He responded:

“I am a Muslim. I don’t blame anyone. I believe in Allah and destiny. I pray for forgiveness. I pray for Allah to bless my son”.

This man is heartbroken. His son was murdered less than 24 hours before that, and he was standing tall, dignified, eloquent, with a heartfelt plea for piece. He is a Muslim. He is Asian.  And he is British.

I cannot think about him without crying. His picture is everywhere now. As it should be. With all this madness going on, it is so important that this man is heard.

I am not a Muslim, but I am praying tonight. I am praying that peace will prevail, that things will get better, and I am also saying my thanks. Thanks that I am safe, that those I love are safe, that there have been very few deaths and I am also grateful, from the bottom of my heart, that people like Mr. Jahan have a platform. They are the best this country has to offer.

Are you a ballerina?

I was at work a few days ago when someone asked me:

“Are you a ballerina?”

The question did not come out of the blue. No, he wasn’t impressed by my gracefulness, he did not think I looked like a ballerina in any way.

“Are you a ballerina?”

He asked because I had been blabbing about ballet again.

“Are you a ballerina?”

“No.” I said. But for a tiny nth of a second, a pause that no one but me noticed, I hesitated.

“Are you a ballerina?”

My head said no. Of course not. My heart also said no. But the hesitation was there. Of course I am not a ballerina. But something in me desperately wishes I was.

Can you only be called a ballerina when you are a professional dancer with a ballet company? If so, how about thousands of ballet students?  Are pointe shoes the hallmark of a ballerina? (are they?)

Is it the clothes you wear? White tights, black leotard, and pink ballet slippers? Tutus? Pointes?

Is it just taking class? What level of class?  What frequency of class?

Is it loving ballet?

All of this was in that split second of hesitation, as something in me tried to answer “Yes.”

There is only one way I can call myself a ballerina: in my head. Because when I close my eyes, I dance. I am graceful, musical, and I am on pointes.

But that is not enough.

That is why I search for class, that is why I wear my leotard, tights and ballet slippers.

As the lovely Johanna from Pointe Til You Drop said:

“You may dream of pas de deux with Marcelo, of octoplet pirouettes and standing ovations, but even simple tendus and pliés already equal happiness.

They do equal happiness. Because they make you feel like a ballerina.

And perhaps, with your eyes closed, for a moment as your work through those tendus, a part of you feels like answering “yes”.

Posted in Me Tagged

We are all weird… or is it just me?

I often wonder what ballet dancers think of us, crazy ballet fans. Steve at You Dance Funny has written this incredibly funny and spot-on post about the many disorders we ballet fans have. But I do wonder what dancers actually think of people like us. Do they think we are all weird?

But then I thought, ballet dancers already get to live ballet and it is no wonder that they blog/tweet about different things. But I have to live ballet differently, so it is also  no wonder I talk/blog/tweet about it a lot.

I was leafing through my diary searching for an old picture of my sisters the other day, when the following fell out:

I was born this way....

And yes, I am born this way. I love ballet to an extent that may be considered a little weird, but this weirdness is part of who I am. After all, I am weird in many different ways:

1- I know The West Wing by heart. It is quite embarrassing. My party piece is guessing the episode and season of any West Wing quote. Minutes of fun for everyone involved.

Favourite Season: 5 & 6. Least favourite character: Josh

2- I am a massive self-centred nerd. Want proof? I keep old exam notes. These below? They are revision notes from over a year ago. I kept them because they are just SO GOOD and detailed, I cannot bear to throw them away. I often find myself looking through them again for no reason.

Such gorgeous notes! 😛

3- I have bizarre ballet dreams sometimes. Once I dreamed I was dancing the Dying Swan with Federico Bonelli. I know the Dying Swan is not a pdd. But in my dream it was. And at one point I did this glooooorious, luxurious backbend that was to die for. It was Bolshoi-like.  It was gorgeous. You should have seen it.

It was even better than this one!

4- I cannot stand packs of mixed pens. I either buy a separate pack each of blue, red, and black pens or I don’t buy them at all. The Hubby once bought a pack that had 5 blue pens, 3 black pens and 2 red ones. It bothered me so much that I hid it so well, he has never been able to find them. By the way, these rules apply only to pens, not highlighters or crayons.

I love pens!!!! As long as they are grouped according to colour.

5- We have an ever expanding family:

They are our pride and joy...

So you see, it is not just my overwhelming love for ballet that is weird. But I am ok with my weirdness. Are you?Am  the only proud weirdo out there? What are your five weird points?

Please share and don’t leave me hanging alone in my weirdness 🙂