Thursday, January 11, 2018

my dedicated hangover

if you follow me on instagram you would have probably noticed that i posted an unusual amount of instastories yesterday. my life looked like a bed of roses but i assure you that it was just an unusually good day spent with the kids. today on the other hand was not the best day. i was irritable and very snappy and ended the day completely deflated.

after our opening night ghafir asked me how i felt after the show and i said that i felt nothing. i gave my entire self to dedicated and after the opening night i felt relief and thoroughly satisfied. i didn't feel the crazy adrenaline high nor did i feel an incredible rush of emotions, i felt pretty stable and it really felt like nothing. i was just content i guess. we finished the run and i still felt very stable.

the entire family flew to bangkok for 4 days on boxing day and being on holiday with so many people further distracted me from any post-show highs or lows, so i came back and i thought ok, this is great. no highs means no crash.

but today was the crash, which meant that there was some sort of high, which is only natural. i worked so hard on this production and i was so proud of me. i felt worthy, i felt of substance, i felt like i could do just about anything, i felt strong, i felt confident, i felt like i had something to offer.

we came back to jakarta last sunday and my body broke down. i spent the entire day in bed unable to do just about anything. on tuesday i danced for the first time this year and it felt wonderful. on wednesday i started learning a new item and it felt good. today i continued with my dance practice but i also spent most of the day watching odissi videos on youtube and that is when my arrogant bubble burst.

i am now sitting in my living room typing this out. what am i going to do next? i need more. i need to practice more. i need to work on my technique more. there is so much more out there that i need to do and suddenly i feel so inadequate, so alone, so lost. i can feel my brain searching for the next impetus, the next idea but i've got zilch.

i am not going to spend 7 years thinking about the next production. i need to start working on something now. but i also know to trust the process, trust the wait, trust time. it will happen when it is supposed to happen. it better...

photo by S. Magen

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Radio Interview with BFM - the business station

Thank you for having me Soon Heng. Click below to listen to the podcast.

DANCING INDEPENDENTLY


January Low returns to an interview a little more than a year after her last on to talk about her performance, ‘Bloom’. She tells about the need to dance and how through dancing Odissi, she re-imagines herself, seven years after leaving a dance company to become a wife and mother. She also informs on working with actor, Ghafir Akhbar.

Produced by: Lim Soon Heng
Presented by: Lim Soon Heng

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

a housewife's dream

based on my last blog post the last thing that comes to mind is that i will be having my very first independent solo production two months later. my mum said, upon reading 'the cheerleader', 'oh my goodness jan, you are so annoying, you say one thing and you go and do the other. it may have seemed like the post was a ruse to hype up my upcoming solo but in all honesty that was the turning point, the straw that broke my back.

on 10th september 2017 i made a promise to myself to dance a little bit everyday. i would relearn old items, work on my stamina and spend 30 minutes dancing. you see, i always told myself that i will start dancing once the venue for my solo was booked but looking back it was an excuse to not book the venue. so i turned that attitude on its head and said that i will start dancing first and when the venue was ready i would be too.

to my surprise it didn't take that long to relearn the items i learnt three years ago in my basement, which gave me such a boost of confidence that two weeks into my pact i decided that i will do my solo before the end of this year. step one was to find out if the venue was available. it was.

step two was of course confirming said venue, which was the biggest step because once that email was sent, there was no turning back. step three was to organise a photoshoot for the primary image and the ball started rolling into step 4, step 5, and it went on.

as usual i made all these decisions without discussing it with anyone including my husband. i sometimes feel that when something this big is about to happen, i need to keep it as close to me for as long as possible because if i let it go too soon the string holding onto the balloon may not be long enough and i may end up losing it to the sky. so i tried to organise as many things as i possibly could, keeping my eye on the prize and once i had a rough outline of the plan of action i started letting people in on this little secret.

three months may seem like a really short time to pull something like this together but i have wanted to perform a full length solo odissi performance for over 7 years. i'm sure you've read my previous blogposts, which describe the loss i felt after leaving my dance institution of 17 years. 17 years is a long, long time so my feelings were completely natural but i did not want to go on moping for 17 years, whinging and complaining about my emptiness so i tried to build myself back up from ground zero.

sure, i got married and had children and for awhile i felt that dance was slowly coming back to me but at the same time i still didn't feel emotionally or physically ready to perform odissi. if you noticed, everything was contemporary. perhaps that was what i needed too, i needed to find my voice, an outlet to let go of past hurts, to gain some confidence, to feel like i have grown, artistically, to feel comfortable in my own skin. to come to the realisation that my strength and passion lied in odissi.

it was an emotional struggle, coming back to dance as a mother and wife. every role was so compartmentalised that i struggled to embrace it all as one identity. i felt like i had to be so many different people. i didn't know how to juggle, i didn't know how to switch on and off. i don't know how to put it into words but even then the dance felt temporary. it didn't help that just as i was gaining momentum we packed up and relocated to a new country and within a few months i was pregnant again. funnily enough, after all those years of not performing odissi i finally felt ready to dance it again at 7 months pregnant. odissi was what i knew best, i was familiar with it and i think that may have been when all my roles of wife, mother, dancer fell into place.

bloom was not an easy production to do. not just physically but emotionally too. it could have been the hormones but after every show i struggled with a very unfamiliar feeling. i have performed on countless stages but i have never performed pregnant so i did not expect to feel so exposed after each show. it could have been tiger mum instincts but it was difficult to share so much of myself during the show that once the show was over i felt like i needed to crawl into a cave and hide. i didn't want to talk about the show afterward. i gave it my all and that was that. apart from that the response was overwhelming. everyone was brimming with positivity, a feeling of empowerment. it was incredible.

then baby tara came into our lives and yet again my life was turned upside down. the first two years after having leo and jade were possibly the most difficult period of my life. i had more down days than up ones, in fact everyday was a down day. i hardly remember being able to fully enjoy mothering the twins. till this day i look back with shame and regret. however, i was blessed with a second chance at motherhood and it was polar opposite. i managed to breastfeed exclusively for six months, i managed to juggle all three kiddos, i managed. and somehow in the middle of all of that i decided that i needed to dance again, seriously dance.

i needed to put my past behind me, i needed to quench this artistic thirst i had had for the longest time, i needed to to stop bloody talking and start doing. i had to stop making excuses for myself, i needed to grab the steering wheel and drive.

i stopped expecting too. i took ownership and responsibility for everything that has happened in my life and i stopped looking for help. sure, i only have an hour tops every day to dance and sometimes that is all it takes. i needed to believe in myself, that i could do this, that i had something important to say and i needed to say it.

so yes, for over seven years i questioned myself almost everyday. what did i want to say? how was i going to say it? who was going to say it for me? who did i want to work with? why did i need to say what i wanted to say?

this process took a looong time. i would meet up with ghafir from time to time, maybe every two years we'd catch up for coffee, inspire each other with a million ideas and leave it till the next time we'd meet again. the last time we had coffee i told him that i wanted to do an odissi performance and i wanted him to tell the stories. 'but what stories do you want to tell?' he asked. '...i don't know' i sighed.

that was march this year.

it is scary to think how much can happen in nine months. heck, one can grow an entire human being in that time. with two weeks to go i am constantly at war with my mind. 'why you so gatal must perform so soon?' 'come on we can do this!' 'arrgh...you're nuts' 'ugh...do i need to dance today?' 'just rest jan, you need it' 'get off the sofa, you made a promise remember?' 'aiya, one day won't hurt'

yesterday i googled 'how many hours do dancers train everyday?' the answer was no where close to my daily 30 mins - 1 hour sessions but we do what we can. i'm trying and i am so bloody proud of myself for actually coming this far. it is not easy doing this alone. i'm so lonely on most days and motivating yourself to get up and dance is utter bollocks. i have also come to the realisation that motivation is also temporary.

as i am approaching the last leg of the race there are some days where i feel like i am losing steam. fear is starting to creep in and i am trying my level best to confront fear and tell it to go stuff itself.

for the longest time i've felt so undeserving whenever people call me a dancer but right now i can't wait to reclaim that title.

tickets are available on www.dpac.com.my