Letter to My Teenage Self: PeiJu Chien-Pott

With every signature Graham contraction, Martha Graham Dance Company principal PeiJu Chien-Pott’s power emanates from her core and ripples through her body, to the point that you start to feel your own breath stop and start with hers. Add her picture-perfect lines and classical technique, honed at the Taipei National University of the Arts, and it’s no wonder she also thrives in the company’s contemporary repertory. Originally from Taiwan, Chien-Pott joined MGDC in 2011 and has also performed with Taipei Royal Ballet, Morphoses and the New Jersey–based Nimbus Dance Works, directed by her husband, Samuel Pott. Together they have a daughter, Sofia. —Jenny Ouellette

In costume for Echo, by Adonis Foniadakis (photo by Hibbard Nash, courtesy Martha Graham Dance Company)

Dear PeiJu,

You’re about to start on a path of finding yourself and loving your life—a path you’ll never regret. Along the way, remember to believe in yourself. You’re a talented dancer and, if you keep working hard, you’ll become a great artist. But don’t be easily satisfied.

Great dancers challenge themselves and always push for more. Challenge is what makes you grow and become stronger.Competition, stress and injury are the three most difficult struggles you’ll face. Keep your spirits up! You’ll gradually learn how to adjust. You’re unique—just be yourself.

At age 17 (photo courtesy Peiju Chien-Pott)

I know that preparing for performances is stressful for you. Try to find simple ways to help yourself feel better. Little treats may do the trick. Keep some dark chocolate in your dance bag, and when you’re stressed, have a bite—you’ll instantly feel like you’re in heaven.

Dealing with injuries will also be frustrating. Think about it like this: Musicians take care of their instruments and painters keep their brushes in good shape. All artists have to keep their tools in good condition to produce fine work—and that includes dancers. Your tool is your body, and respecting your body is the first step in minimizing injury. It requires discipline. Eat a healthy diet and always warm up before class and rehearsal.

But most importantly, enjoy dancing and stay positive.

Much love,

Pei

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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