Thursday, 11 April 2013

Nadia Comaneci

Looking into the reflection in the waters of Bintan island, I see a little girl dancing and twirling high on her toes, and smiling ever so sweetly to the music of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"; it reminds you of the ballerina that you find in a beautiful music box, turning gracefully on one slender leg with her aesthetic image captured on all the mirrors.

My curly locks @ 7-years-old, donning the national colours

Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who scored the first perfect 10.0 in the history of gymnastics, pirouetted across the floor ever so daintily, wowed the crowd with her beauty, confidence and charisma, and her superb technicality in the sport which she performed with ease; she was adored by everyone around the world. 

Although I lived miles away from her, I felt like I was in one with her: dreamed and imagined that I was Nadia--somersaulting gently in the air, moving my flexible body rhythmically in gymnastic routines, yet having the strength of a lion. It was an arduous journey for her to achieve that elite level of mind, body and soul; it required 100% commitment, dedication and passion from such a young girl. I was inspired by her--Nadia was the gymnast I looked up to when I was a child.

On a Balance Beam, home-made by my mom, 
practicing at home @ 4-years-old

Every morning, I wake up early to watch my favourite video, "Nadia." The 1.5hr movie documented her life from a normal school-going kid to an international gymnast. Like any other Hollywood movies, it showed glimpses of her love life, including friendship and relationship with her father. Watching the movie sets the tone for the day: the sight of her body movement and sound of her voice, send warm pulses to my heart that tinkle my fingers and toes, bringing a smile to my face--I was ready for my daily gymnastics training. 

Landing on a crash mat while performing at Bras Basah @ 4-years-old

Training was fun as a young kid, performing outdoor gymnastics with teammates, participating in friendly competitions and gatherings with club friends at the then newly-opened Pizza Hut at the Tanglin Shopping Centre. After my second South-East-Asian Games which was held in Jarkarta, Indonesia, I knew I had to seek for higher level of coaching expertise; found the network and began my training stints in China--the start of my own arduous journey at nine-years-old. Never once, did Nadia leave my mind: her soft silhouette remained etched in my mind vividly, spurring me on to continue what I did best and striving to become even better; when my hands bled from the friction against the bars, when my ankles hurt from the constant landing impact, when my heart seemed like it was going to explode, I continued to push myself, beyond my limits to reach greater heights in my sport--if Nadia could do it, so can I.

Flexing my limbs at home @ 5-years-old

Neil Gaiman, an English author, said in his Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts graduating class 2012, "Do the stuff that only you can do. The urge starting out is to copy, and that's not a very bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we sounded a lot like other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has, is you--your voice, your mind, your story, your vision." We find someone who motivates us, draw inspiration from him and imitate his ways. Slowly, in whatever discipline we are in, whether it's the arts, music or sport, we will find our own style, voice and concept of play. Nadia was my model, over the years, I've integrated her into my life. 

Last week, my student, Caroline Mikaella Soo, a marketing consultant, surprised me with her quick-learning in playing legato. Generally, I try to find alternative ways to facilitate my students to achieve a playing style or technique, through imagination, listening or drills. I asked her what went through her mind as she played "Long Long Ago" on her violin. She said something that inspired me to write this blog, which has never occurred to me but it made me realise again how important an educator is to another life. 

She replied,"I simply tried to imagine myself playing like you." 

Caroline playing "Long Long Ago" on her violin

A new loop song, "Sparkling Diamond" played on my rig, with electric violin and vocals.

~ Teach a Life, for Life ~

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