25 Years and Counting
18.02.2015 § 1 Comment
During my adolescent years, there was a popular song with lyrics that went something like this:
When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, “What will I be?
Will I be pretty, will I be rich?”
Here’s what she said to me
“Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera”
In those years, I vaguely dreamed of becoming a writer (in Chinese, of course). I still dream of it, vaguely! I also loved to draw when I was young, but I never trained until college. I started ballet at age five, stopped for a while, and then spent almost all of my spare time outside of art class practicing modern dance during my college years.
I followed the dance professor in our college, a tremendous woman who I still stay in contact with. I missed a lot of the fun my classmate were having with camping, hiking, and hanging out in coffee shops. (In those days, we didn’t drink, especially girls, but even guys in college didn’t drink that much in Taiwan.) But I feel I gained a lot from dancing, especially what my dance teacher taught me about life. She truly treated me like a daughter.
My senior year, our dance teacher formed a dance company, and I performed in her first recital. My interest in dancing almost equaled my interest in fine art. Upon graduation I needed to choose my next step, and she asked me to join her company. I reflected upon my situation: I was already 22 and still not dancing at top notch; also my body shape is not the long, slender type most suitable for the stage. I did not think I could get to the top by dancing, although it hurt so much to disappoint my beloved teacher. I decided to continue with fine art, an art form which one can engage in even at a very old age. I knew I was naive and had a lot to learn, and I expected a long journey to search for the art that would belong to me. So I came to the US.
Here I am. I turned out to be a textile designer when I never dreamed of becoming one. A painter maybe, but never so specifically a textile designer! Life surprised me, and I still have so much to learn and to accomplish even after 25 years since founding Brentano.
Last October I went to visit my 90-year-old dance professor. She had just retired from her dance company as the art director and choreographer and had started to write a book on the history of Chinese dance. She was awarded a grant from the Taiwan National Normal University (my alma mater). She is widely recognized in China for her published papers on Chinese historical dance and has won honorary doctorates from universities in China. She still wears her tremendous, elegant smile with an erect back — although her knees are killing her from long years of dancing. She said to me, “My whole life is nothing but dance; I will never retire.” She is my role model, I thought, at that moment.