Not-So-Tiny Dancer

You know that thing your body does when music comes on? That, to me, in any style, is dance. For almost 25 years of my life, I danced. Yes, a hobby that turned into a profession. Here’s my story..

It all began during my kindergarten years. Like most children, especially girls, they’ll take up some sort of activity, be it piano, violin, swimming classes.. I signed up for ballet. It only lasted until I was about 8 years old then I decided to quit. For a good reason though..

In primary school, I was very athletic. I was always part of the blue house team called “Hang Tuah” for sports day. I did the 100m run, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m, long jump.. but that’s not my story. Haha!

I joined an extra curricular activity, “Rhythmic Gymnastics” known as “Gimrama“, short for “Gimnastik Berirama” in Malay. I did it just as an extra activity to put a tick to one, out of the few checkboxes, to excel in school. In simpler words, I didn’t take it too seriously.

Ever heard of the saying, “Sometimes when you least expect it, good things happen”? That happened.

I was chosen to represent my school. Watching the videos of me back then never fail to make me laugh! I don’t know how but I was handpicked to represent my state, Selangor. I trained way more than I used to and competed at high-end national competitions like “Sportexcel” which had 3 circuits, SUKMA which stands for “Malaysian Games”, etc.

Then.. before I knew it, I was part of of the Malaysian Rhythmic Gymnastics squad! It took awhile for me to realize that I was representing my country because it was something I did everyday since I registered for it. I moved to study, train and live at the infamous “sports village” in Kuala Lumpur called Bukit Jalil.

It was from the year 2000 onwards, after winning my first gold medal at the SUKMA Games, those were my glorious years. I was so passionate and determined that words couldn’t describe the feeling I had back then. Maybe this will help..

I traveled around the world, from Asia to Europe, competing in various international competions with the top gymnasts of the time. I especially admired Irina Tchachina from the Russian Federation. Love.. love.. loved her!

It was from this exact routine (below) that made me adore her. This was when I got to watch her live, in Tokyo, from the training area backstage..

From then on, I had only one goal in mind. I wanted to be the first Malaysian to be part of the Olympics in Rhythmic Gymnastics. I aimed for the 2004 Olympics. So close yet so far..

Unfortunately, it didn’t get to that point. I had an injury that made it rather impossible for me to go on being a gymnast.. my backbone. Don’t worry, I didn’t get paralysed or anything serious but it could’ve lead to that if I wasn’t careful. I had a lower back injury which was just constantly there! No matter which part of my body I had to lift or bend, it felt like a sharp knife was just stabbing me repeatedly on my “L3” and the muscles around it!

I still went for training sessions and competed at competitions whilst having physiotherapy at the same time in hopes that it’ll miraculously go away. The pain got worse. Mentally, I was just at the lowest point in my life. In my mind I kept thinking “What’s the point? I could barely do any of the moves anyway.” Eventually, I convinced myself. I skipped training and gave up.

My parents weren’t happy, obviously, and they decided to ship me over to Brisbane, Australia to train and hopefully get my back fixed. So I left Malaysia to join a gymnastics club in Brisbane called QRGA (Queensland Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy).

I was there for a couple of years or so. I saw the doctor there and he said the same thing but this time, it didn’t stop me. I was accepted despite my injury so there has to be some kind of hope, don’t you think?

My routines were modified to a level where it wasn’t too difficult and “backpain-free” for me. I competed and still won medals, not gold, but it was good enough for me.

In the end, I decided to quit the sport altogether. I couldn’t push myself any further than what I was already doing, no matter how much I tried to force myself. So that was that. I was hard, I still miss the sport but hey.. things happen for a reason.

I may have given up on the one thing that I was so passionate about, for 10 years, but I still danced. I was part of an all girl dance crew, Rogue, when I went back to Malaysia. We performed for events and competed at dance competitions. Fun times!

Life goes on, we went our separate ways. I left for university in Switzerland. There, I danced for fun, like any other teenager, at clubs with friends and also performed for events at the university. The same happened after I graduated, got a degree and left to work in Denver, Colorado then transferred back to work in Malaysia. Dancing for work events, etc. Dance was always there in my life!

Like chocolates or ice cream or shopping, dancing made and still does make me happy. In a way, it makes the world dissappear and in whatever situation I’m in or music I’m listening to, I’ll dance it out. Do I make any sense?

It’s been 2 years now since I’ve stopped performing. I miss it as much as I miss my gymnastic days. The atmosphere of people cheering, chanting your name or the song you’re dancing to, dancing along,.. sigh. Oh well..

Nowadays, I only have time to dance either when I’m alone doing my own thing or you’ll catch me dancing with my twin boys haha..

“There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.”

-Vicki Baum

To conclude this summary of my dance journey, I just want to remind you that, no matter what happens in life, move on. If you have a passion for something, there is always, in one way or another, an alternative to pursue it.

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