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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