As we celebrate the ninth annual China Dance School recital, my heart aches knowing that I will not be performing on stage tonight. But there is a saying: “where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Though I will be thousands of miles away attending college on the east coast, China Dance School will always be my home, no matter how far away I may be.
This past year, I embarked on a new journey, leaving my home of San Francisco to attend Princeton University. I began my freshman year studies, learned a new foreign language, and pursued a minor in ballet and contemporary dance under Princeton’s Dance Department. I spent this past summer in New York City as a fashion editorial intern under Bonnie Fuller, and at the Joffrey Ballet School for intense pre-professional training.
A lot has changed since I last stepped foot on this stage—a stage that I practically grew up on before the very eyes of the audience—but one thing has remained the same and will never change, and that is the immense gratitude I have for Zhou Lao Shi and You Lao Shi for the deep impression they have left on me. Under their guidance, love, and devotion, they have developed my character and potential, and have taught me that life includes both successes and failures through courageous acts of taking risks. Dance is more than just an art—it is a discipline. My focus on details and my ability to push myself stem from the moments in training when Zhou Lao Shi and You Lao Shi will me to put my leg up higher on the chair during oversplits, or when they make me repeat the same phrase over and over again until I am finally able to stay on relevé a second longer. They have given me the strength and courage to face all the unknown obstacles in the real world, and have taught me to uphold an unbreakable commitment to myself to be the best, and even better.
Tonight, as with every performance, the curtains will fall, and the lights will dim, but know that this special night will have lasting impressions and infinite rewards.
I wish every performer the best of luck, and with all my heart, I thank Zhou Lao Shi and You Lao Shi for the person they have helped me become.