Life since my last post….

Hello everyone I’m back! It’s almost 2018! It’s been 2 years since my last post, which is a crazy realization for me. Time flies… Please bear in mind that my writing might not be perfect as I’m not a professional writer and I haven’t done this in a while.

Since my last post a lot has changed in my life, mostly for the better, with some up’s and down’s.

You all know after leaving Hong Kong I was training with Nadege Hottier at her school, Premier Division in NYC. It is a great program, especially if you are transitioning between jobs or just need to stay in shape and prepare for auditions. Life was going pretty well at the time or so I thought….

In 2015, around Thanksgiving, I was having lunch with my mom at a local deli that we frequent in Manhattan. Randomly I started to feel nauseas, dizzy and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had no idea what was going on and I started to panic. My mom confused and thought I was being dramatic. She tried to console me and told me to relax and that everything is ok. I felt like this heavy pressure on my chest and I couldn’t seem to talk. I went into a full panic. We ended up leaving the restaurant and went over to my mother’s office, just down the street, with hopes that I would be able to relax in a familiar place. I thought I was having an asthma attack. I begged my mom to take me home. For the next week I couldn’t shake this feeling. I felt like I had no air in my lungs. I also couldn’t do simple common routines like going on the subway to ballet class, something I had been doing since I was 14. I finally decided I had to go see a doctor. After going to the doctor, we determined I was suffering from anxiety and I had a panic attack, probably brought on by stress from the looming ballet job auditions coming up. I determined later on that I was so stressed about not working, not being financially independent, not knowing what my future would be, etc…

At this time I was getting ready for auditions. I planned on auditioning with as many companies as possible but because of how I felt I didn’t even want to leave the house. There was a point where I felt that I should just quit dancing all together. The pressure was unreal and I was unhappy with my progress. For years everything was going so well for me and then bam, reality kicked in or maybe maturity to some extent and the pressure of being a ballet dancer hit me hard. The “what if’s” were too much for me. I was stuck.

Due to all the stress I only ended up auditioning for two companies in the USA. I knew I needed to get out and audition. I did do a couple of random auditions in Europe too but I decided I didn’t want to work in Europe at that time, so I stopped auditioning there. That being said, out of the two US auditions, I was lucky enough to obtain a contract with Ballet Memphis. It was another sign for me that I shouldn’t quit dancing and that there was more for me to achieve. The ballet world is extremely competitive and I knew girls that were technically and artistically amazing but that also couldn’t find jobs at the time. I let my worries, self-doubt, and lack of confidence consume my thoughts. How was I going to land a job when I wasn’t training as much and I felt like my ballet technique wasn’t up to par? I managed. After I accepted the contract, I did start to feel a little better, anxiety wise. I did struggle for the first couple of months in Memphis, adjusting and trying to find my way. Thankfully my anxiety eventually passed. I felt like I needed to share this because I know audition season is right around the corner and I know there are other girls out there who are probably having similar feelings and nervous emotions. I want you to know that it’s ok to feel these scary emotions. There is a stigma associated with anxiety and some people don’t accept that it’s a real issue. People may think you are being dramatic or lying but just know that you are not alone and that everything will be ok. Some routines that helped me get through the difficult time include taking deep breaths, activities such as yoga and regular gym sessions and quitting coffee. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in 2 years and I think it was one of the best lifestyle changes I made. I do miss it sometimes but I replaced it with hot coco, and if you know me, then you know I am obsessed with it haha. Anyway these activities still help me today, along with meditation. I would recommend the app Headspace, if you haven’t already discovered it. Meditation helps me get through, not only ballet struggles, but just daily life stress. It’s amazing what a little quiet, guided, mindfulness training can do. There are going to be up’s and down’s but whatever challenge you face, don’t give up! Today I feel incredibly lucky. I am so thankful and happy I didn’t give up on my dream to work as a ballet dancer. It is now 2 years later and I’m still dancing with Ballet Memphis. I now call Memphis, Tennessee home and I love every aspect of my life.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. Stay tuned for my next blog post about my move to Memphis. If you have any questions or suggestions about what you would like me to discuss or focus on, feel free to message me. Xoxo


“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.”

– Astrid Alauda


“We ar born to be real, not to be perfect”
Spending the next few weeks praticing variations at Gibney Studios in NYC for the ballet audition season 2016

Performing in NYC “Les danseuses de Pigalle”

This Sunday December 13 I will be performing with the Premier Division of NYC in “Les danseuses de Pigalle” at the theater at New York Live Arts in New York City. I am very nervous given this is the first time I am performing live since leaving Hong Kong. In December there are numerous Nutcracker performances all around the New York area so it is refreshing to be part of something different this holiday season and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good crime story. “Les danseuses de Pigalle” is a contemporary ballet with live, classically trained musicians. The biographies of the musicians include training at the prestigious Juilliard School and performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Avery Fischer Hall. The musicians, whom we are lucky to work with, have performed with highly regarded groups such as the NY Philharmonic, Houston Grand Opera, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and more. It really is a treat for all dance and music lovers alike.

Contemporary Ballet incorporates both classical ballet and modern dance. I have only performed in a few contemporary pieces so performing in this ballet has helped me to learn how to move a little bit differently and to use my body more loosely, as opposed to classical ballet, where the movement is more rigid and the focus is on exact technique. It has been a great learning experience. I have enjoyed the rehearsal process and the new friendships I have formed from working with Nadege Hottier and the amazing dancers of Premiere Division.

Here is a teaser by Krista Stark. We are in rehearsals for the show…

“Les danseuses de Pigalle” is a ballet inside a crime scene… It is an original story created and staged by Nadege Hottier. Inspired by the tradition of French detective stories, Mrs Hottier brings to life a scene of suspense and drama. This ballet production is a creative effort and collaboration between New York City composer Jake Landau, live musicians and Premiere Division dancers.

Choreography: Nadege Hottier.

Music composition: Jake Landau.

Electroacoustic performers: Maurice Marion and Jake Landau.

Soprano: Anneliese Klenetsky     /     Cello: Danielle Merlis

Sunday Dec 13, 2015 at 5pm & 8pm / Venue: The Theater at New York Live (219 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011)

Click here to purchase tickets for the show!

 Premiere Division

Founded by Nadege Hottier, former soloist with Berlin Opera, Premiere Division brings classical ballet traditions to a contemporary setting. Drawing inspiration from current artists and timeless works by classical masters, this elite young group welcomes you to enjoy original ballet creations.

Click here to learn more about the Premiere Division


My Year in Hong Kong: Work, New Flat & Friends, Questionable Racism and more..

Sorry for the delay in posting. I have been so busy rehearsing for a show that I am performing in this month in NYC. I will tell you more about the show in my next post so for now let me get back to the HK story…image

My mom had now left to go back to the states. I was officially on my own in Hong Kong. I started my new job with the Hong Kong Ballet, as a member of the Corp de Ballet. imageIncluding myself, I think there were about 12 new dancers. I was very nervous starting work. Everyone who knows me knows that I am initially very, very shy until I get to know a person and feel comfortable. Everyone appeared very nice and somewhat friendly. It started off well. Right away we started rehearsing the ballet Don Quixote, which would run at the end of August 2014. I was so excited to be cast in several roles and I felt like everything was going to be ok. I attended a welcome dinner at another company members home and I was trying to make friends and fit in. About 3 weeks after I moved to Hong Kong on Aug 2nd, I turned 20 years old. It was my birthday and another dancers birthday so several company members took us out to dinner and for drinks to celebrate. It was nice to have someone to celebrate my birthday with given I knew nobody in HK except for one friend who I went to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy with. She wasn’t there for long though because she was only home visiting her family. She danced in the USA at the time.

My beautiful friend & Bolshoi Alum Josephine

My beautiful friend & Bolshoi Alum Josephine

imageMy first month in HK was pretty much eat, sleep, and work. I would skype with my mom or text with friends. I went out a few times with my friend from the Bolshoi. My priority was to find a new place to live also. I had made a few friends on a social media app and they gave me some advice on finding a flat share by joining a few groups on social media, so I did. I had success right away. There was a room available in a fairly large, 3 bedroom apartment in a great location. It was a few steps from the MTR and in walking distance to work. It was a more local neighborhood in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon. It was ideal because I really wanted to experience HK local life. I was nervously excited because the two other roommates were girls I had hoped to connect with. One was from the USA and the other was from Russia and I thought we would get along given I lived in Russia for 2 years and speak some Russian. Finally, two girls my age that I might connect with here in HK. Not to stray away from the apartment topic however I have to say that I sometimes feel like someone was looking out for me from up above because at the time I was really sad and lonely.

imageWe had just finished Don Q, which I was so happy and proud to be a part of. I had thought I made a good impression with my cast mates but I guess I didn’t. After the final Don Q show with the HKB somebody had planned an end of show dinner/drinks event. I had no idea. I was leaving after the last show, so happy and ready to go home and talk to my mom or whomever. I was walking out of the building and ran into another company member. She said something like, hey are you coming tonight? Coming to what I said? She then went on to tell me briefly. I don’t remember my response. But I am sure it was something like… well I don’t know…but in my head I was thinking well no, since I wasn’t invited by the organizers. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t invited but what really hurt came later that night and the next day when pictures went up on FB and it appeared everyone was invited except me. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all but I had nobody. I mean nobody and to see the other new dancers included just killed me. I had spoken to many people that day and thought I was making friends. Not one person mentioned it to me. I cried once again. I knew then that I had to take my mom’s advice and make friends outside of work.

So when I found the flat with the two girls from abroad I had really high hopes. I went to see it right away. The bedroom was small but the price was perfect. The other 2 bedrooms were a little bit larger so when someone moved out I could upgrade for a little more money if I wanted (which is what I did). It had a real kitchen, which I was happy about and it was furnished with a couch, dining table, big screen TV and wifi. I was a little nervous about meeting the landlord. The whole finding an apt. from a social media site seemed sketchy and honestly the whole apt. search in HK was very different from the American norm. In some cases you can move in the same day you find the apt. in HK. It is scary meeting a strange man but once I met him I felt fine. He was very nice and I didn’t get any sketchy vibes. I took the room. I couldn’t move in for a few weeks which, was perfect because I had to give notice in the current service apt. I was living in.

Lamma Island




During that month I just went to work, planned for my move and awaited my aunts arrival. She was coming to visit for 2 weeks. When my aunt finally arrived I was very happy for the most part. We did tourist things, we visited the beautiful Lamma Island, went to Ocean Park and the Zoo. She was here at the time I was moving so she helped me move into my new room. We had a nice time with the exception of an experience that pretty much, momentarily, broke me as a person.


My Aunt and I at Ocean Park

We were at the mall, it was very crowded. We were just walking, minding our business in the mall and suddenly a male voice passing me yelled something. You could tell by the tone and voice whatever he was saying in Chinese was clearly not nice. I never actually saw his face because like I said I was minding my business, trying to assimilate to the environment. Then it happened… he spit on me. I was like “what the…” It was so crowded we couldn’t tell which man actually did it. I was mortified, hurt, disgusted, etc… In 20 years (now 21) I had never experienced anything like this. I have to assume it was racism especially given someone else yelled at us to go home on the first night we arrived in HK. Based on the mans tone and spit what else could it be? I highly doubt it was some random guy just spitting in a clean, beautiful mall. I still cannot believe it to this day. I am a biracial female. I was warned before moving to Russia that I could experience ignorance and racism and to stay vigilant. I lived in Russia for two years, went site seeing, to the mall, restaurants, theatre, etc.. and never once did anyone comment to my face or in public or physically harm me in anyway. I never really felt unsafe. Everyone for the most part was very kind and friendly in Russia. imageSo when I moved to HK I never thought I would experience this behavior. I didn’t tell anyone about this initially. I don’t want to be that girl that blames her skin color for how she is treated because I truly want to believe that in this day and age people are more open minded and accepting of diversity. My hope is that people will like me for me, because I am kind, hardworking and respectful. When I went to Russia with the scholarship from the Russian American Foundation and United States Dept. of Edu, National Security Language Initiative for Youth my essay talked about how we each need to learn about one another, learn about each other’s cultures, religions, traditions in order to really learn to accept someone. Once we stop assuming and once we learn the facts and understand each other’s differences we can then learn to respect each other. We will appreciate each other and what we all have to offer society. This is my goal in life, to travel and experience different cultures and show people that just because my skin color is different that doesn’t mean I am a bad person. I was so excited to have a job in HK but also to have the imageamazing cultural experiences HK has to offer however this wasn’t the experience I had expected. Obviously I am overly hopeful but I will always stay positive. Anyway after the incident I broke down to my mom again. I felt broken. I didn’t tell anyone at work or anyone whom I wasn’t really close with. My mom reminds me again, as she always does, that I need to stay strong and that I can’t let one person’s immature actions define my opinion of everyone and she is right. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. I had to stay strong and make the most of my experiences in HK. I can’t blame an entire population of people based on one man’s ignorant actions, so after a good cry I just let it go and moved on, but it is something I will never forget.

My beautiful roommates USA & Russia

My beautiful roommates USA & Russia


My aunt went home and I settled into my new apartment. I connected with my new roommates, who became my friends. I started having a real life. We would go out hiking or shopping or for dinner and drinks. Hiking Day w/new roomiesWe met other students, etc and I started making more friends. We had some good laughs and some difficult moments, as it is hard living with others sometimes, but we all worked it out. It was so nice to have someone, not in the dance field, to come home to and talk to about your day and vice versa. The hard part about living in HK is that most people my age are either study abroad or interns. They are only there for 6 months or so. Both of my roommates were interns so they would be leaving around the end December. My roommates were now my best friends in HK and I would have to start all over making new friends once they left. It was a good 3 month run with them though and I was finally smiling again.

Between October to December we rehearsed at work for upcoming shows and I went on my first company tour to the United States. It was so nice to be back on American soil and to perform in my country. I also witnessed history in the making as the Umbrella Movement aka Occupy Hong Kong took place from the end of September to December. I will tell you more about this and my performance experiences in one of my next posts. image

As always, thanks for your support and feedback.

Nicole ❤