Creating artists through dance

Katie Kowalski, arts@ptleader.com
Posted 5/30/17

A hauntingly beautiful song reverberates through a bright studio full of young dancers rehearsing for their upcoming show.

On the sidelines, a cluster of tiny ballerinas in rose pink and older …

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Creating artists through dance

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A hauntingly beautiful song reverberates through a bright studio full of young dancers rehearsing for their upcoming show.

On the sidelines, a cluster of tiny ballerinas in rose pink and older dancers in minimal black attire watch and wait as, dressed in pale lemon yellow, girls somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12 clasp pillows to their hearts as they dance through “Prayer for Seeing in the Dark.” That piece closes the first half of Ling Hui’s annual performance, taking place this weekend.

“I’m very happy with my job, especially this year,” said Ling Hui, who has been teaching dance in Port Townsend since 1996, and is delighted by one of her most dedicated groups of 4- to 18 year-old dancers, and their parents, yet.

CREATING

A native of Taiwan, Ling Hui studied dance in Japan and at the University of Colorado. She herself stopped dancing about five years ago, realizing one day that she was too tired.

It’s a heartbreaking moment, she said about realizing one could no longer be a dancer. “Dancers have two lives – they die twice,” she said.

But for Ling Hui, creating is fundamental to a joyful and happy life, and by teaching young dancers, she can continue to create.

“I’m still doing this job just because of the creating,” she said.

And the most fulfilling part of what she does is watching her dancers grow.

Many of the older dancers on stage have been working with her since they were little.

And seeing them come so far – “Ah, that’s a reward.”

FOLLOWING ENERGY

The temperament of each dancer who enters Ling Hui’s studio every fall guides each season and its culminating performance.

“Some are wild; some are shy,” said Ling Hui of her students. And every year, that energy is different. “I need to just follow their energy,” she said.

During rehearsals, she observes that energy – sometimes there are moody teenagers or overly active youngsters – and responds; each age group is approached differently. With the “baby group,” she is less serious and more “loose”; the older teenagers and committed dancers she urges to the acme of their abilities; and in between there is the junior group, which is her favorite, like “little rosebuds ready to bloom.”

CREATING ARTISTS

“It’s is so wonderful your parents sent you here, and you want to [be here],” Ling Hui said she tells her older students. Learning to dance is a gift – but it’s not like candy or ice cream or diamonds, she said. It’s a lasting one that encourages growth into healthy, beautiful women.

Though Ling Hui is happy to have seen some of her dancers continue on through college, training professional dancers is not her goal.

Rather, she said, she’s creating artists, no matter what their future brings.

Whether that profession is a doctor or a teacher, “they’ll have beautiful posture,” she said, “and people will trust them.”

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