Michel Yang

Date: 04/10/2006

Michel Yang never thought she would stay more than five years but meanwhile, it is already her sixth year in Brussels. She came to Europe because she just wanted to check it out. Her interest was aroused by the European dance she saw in the US, like Forsythe and Bausch, which was different from what was happening in the States. When she first came, she traveled around a lot in Europe but realized that she needed a home base and that is what Brussels became. She did not know anyone there at the time but it was a cheap place to live and a lot was happening there. She would not be able to live out of her suitcase like many dancers do. She prefers to have some stability, and she is aware that that is contradictory with the unstable art field she works in.
A few years ago, Yang stopped going to auditions. She feels random and isolated in auditions and there is always a competitive atmosphere between dancers. Only once she got a job through an audition; most jobs she got through someone she knew and who referred to her. The reason why Brussels feels like home is that “her community” is there. In New York, life was different; everybody was very busy with himself. Brussels has a real community of dancers who settled down there. The Brussels dance community is bigger and more varied than she had imagined. She is constantly surprised by the number of dancers who have been there for years and she has never crossed. She feels that the dance field is quite isolated from the rest of the country, as if it were somehow ‘planted’ in Brussels.
When Yang arrived, she had the intention of keeping in touch with her work relations in New York, but professional relations turned out to be much harder to maintain from abroad. At a certain moment she asked herself the question what the point was of staying in Belgium. She wondered what her relation to the Belgians was and whether she could identify with them. She only knew (international) dancers at the time and if she stayed, she would also enter the community of “the Belgians”. Now she can see herself growing old in Belgium. She wants to settle her paper work because she cannot imagine herself still being illegally in the country in ten years.
Yang is not an active networker. When she first came to Belgium, she felt the need to create a network but now she just allows things to happen. She is also reluctant to ask people for their help to realize something, although she knows they would help her. Teaching is a comfortable way to stay connected to both the professional and the non-professional community. She has a sense of freedom and feels very privileged as a dancer in the way she can manage her life and in terms of the flexibility she has. In spite of the “juggling” and the survival, it is a luxury being able to create.

catered – out of the blue – paper work – home base – house hopping – settled – “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” – middle class family housewife – niche – roots – Euro-English – naive fascination – culturally rich – indefinitely – identify – struggling planning – residency card – lawyers – homey – find a rhythm – studio space – prioritize your life – non-dancer friends – organically – shy – mask


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