Tina Hua received the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer in 2015.
攝影 Photographer：Mark Lam
A Completion in Life
When dancers think about the body it is not just about the skillful dancing body, they consider it more holistically, drawing influences for their artistic journey from the stage as well as from life experiences. In talking with Hua Chi Yu, Hong Kong Dance Company dancer and recipient of Hong Kong Dance Awards for Outstanding Performance by Female Dancer in 2013 and 2015, the focus was not just on her stage life but also on the changes she experienced before and after giving birth to her first child. Interestingly, this major life event was framed by her two award-winning performances in Thunderstorm and The Butterfly Lovers. In 2013, she was happy to receive the award, however, rather than feeling enormous joy, she experienced a sense of completion of a chapter in her dance life, partly because she had wanted to gain the type of recognition the Dance Award conveys for a long time. When she finally got one, she was pregnant and the year was filled with turning points in her career and in her life.
Tina Hua with her son and her husband, Huang Lei.
相片由受訪者提供 Photo provider: Tina Hua
Motherhood Perfects her Dance
On the one hand, Hua was excited about the arrival of a newborn son. On the other, she was worried that giving birth would cause extreme changes in the shape of her body. She was concerned that the company might no longer assign her main roles and that could mean the end of her dance career. In general, protection and positive support for workingwomen in Hong Kong during maternity is less than ideal and dancers often undergo serious mental stress after pregnancy. Fortunately, Hua’s company has been very supportive and this has eased her fears and diminished the pressures on her. So, when she received her second award in 2015, aside from gaining recognition as an outstanding performer, what was more important for her was that it was an affirmation of her as a female dancer and a mother, an occasion of tremendous joy compared to when she received the award in 2013. In her acceptance speech, she remarked as a dancer, her life experiences helped enrich the quality of her performance. Since she became a mother, she feels she has experienced the completeness of a women’s life. Moreover, when she returned to the stage, these experiences brought more vitality to her performance. She offers the example of when she has to interpret the expression of love in a role, it is no longer just the love between a man and a woman, but the love of a mother for her child. She feels her movements have become more textured as a result of these multiple layers of love, giving them a new dimension. Perhaps this is one of the reasons she was able to become a two-time award-winner in such a short period of time. Indeed, she feels that when she passed the stage of life where concern is just for oneself and started embracing others, public affirmation followed.
Tina Hua performs The Butterfly Lovers with Huang Lei.
攝影 Photographer：Henry Wong
The Importance of Foundation and Life Experience
When talking about her fears during pregnancy, Hua often mentions her idea of professionalism. She talked extensively about the series of disciplined workouts she used to reshape her body from its drastic postpartum physical changes to its pre-pregnancy state. Also, she stressed the difference between company and school environment. A company doesn’t need to provide time, opportunity, or a platform for a dancer to learn, instead, the dancer needs to take the initiative to equip oneself to be in the best state for work. When I asked her if she had any advice for young dancers and students, she said that daily basic training practice and hard work are essential. She thinks that her generation focused less on quality of life than the next generation hence she understands the meaning and the significance of hardship. For her, to be a dancer means going through a diligent training process of continuous refinement of skills in order to be in top form before entering a company or even a rehearsal studio. I asked her, when a dancer grows older, and after becoming a mother, there might be significant physical decline. Would she prefer the state she’s in now where she has richer life experiences but a less energetic body or when she was young and inexperienced but full of immense energy? Her immediate answer was NOW. She then rotated her hand in a circular motion and said, “When I was a young dancer, I would exhaust all my energy to complete this full circle. But now, I understand that this kind of use of energy is not the only way to draw a beautiful circle.” And this is my impression of Hau Chi Yu, a confident and determined dancer, at the same time an elegant new mother.