Story of a dancer

2018 Summer short story: A dancer who defied expectations and put bullies in their place single-handedly - YP

This story was written by Karina Chan, a 14-year-old student from Sha Tin College.

This story was written by one of the finalists of Young Post’s 2018 Summer Short Story Competition. Each week during the holidays, we will publish one of the finalists’ stories. Our favourite entries will be compiled into a book which each finalist will receive a copy of. The winning entry will appear in Young Post on August 25

There are two things I love most in life: dancing, and pushing myself to the limit. My shelves at home are decorated with trophies and medals – a measure of both my competitiveness and my love of dancing. It all changed for me when I lost my arm in a traumatic car accident when I was 10. I remember feeling a sense of hopelessness and loss; a part of my body, my sense of balance, my confidence, gone. What kept me going was dance. Losing of an arm? I can’t – no, I won’t – let that stop me from doing what I love.

Not the same girl

It’s mid-afternoon on a burning hot summer’s day when I arrive at the gates of the Hong Kong Coliseum. There is a long queue, snaking around the stadium. After a few hours of sweltering in the heat, I finally find myself in front of a table. Behind it sits a man, holding a clipboard with the words ‘Hong Kong’s Got Talent’ printed in a large, bold font.

“Name?” He asks monotonously. He doesn’t look up from his sheet. He must’ve seen so many other contestants, all with hopeful looks in their eyes. He must’ve seen it all: so many dreams, crushed. Will I be one of those people? I’ve competed before; I should be fine, right? The problem is, I’m not the same me I was before.

I take a deep breath. “Eva. Eva Poon.” My voice shakes.

He shifts his glasses. “And what will you be doing today, Miss Poon –” He pauses, staring up at me in shock.

I know what he sees. From a distance, the girl in the leotard looks ordinary. One of her arms is behind her back, trembling fingers crossed. Where her other arm is supposed to be, is nothing but a stump. “Car accident.” I mutter, head down.

“Oh.” He collects himself, wipes his face clear of any previous emotion. “What did you say you were doing again?” He asks suspiciously.

I hear the girls behind me giggling. The man taps his pen impatiently. “I- I’ll be doing con-con-contemporary dance.” I stutter.

One of the girls bursts out laughing. “Contemporary dance? With one hand? How does she expect to compete against us?”

They cackle like hyenas. I’ve danced before – they should know that. I recognise them from my old days of competing. I’ve beaten them before, and I should be able to do it again. The man clears his throat. “Ahem. You can go backstage now, and wait until you hear your name called.” I nod, making my way out.

“See you later, Con-Con-Contemporary Dancer.” One of the girls jeers, and her friends snigger.


Backstage is a cluster of people. One is a comedian, telling jokes and hoping that someone will listen and laugh. Another is a singer. I’ve seen her on the streets, playing her guitar and singing her heart out. I see a child, probably less than half my age, playing a classical song on the piano, her chubby fingers flying over the keys. They’re all immensely talented.

I see the girls from earlier a few feet away from where I sit. Their ballet choreographer shouts at them.

Plié! Arrière! Balancé! Left leg, Daisy, not your right!” The girl at the back instantly switches feet, trying to regain her balance. The rest of the girls don’t even try to hide their laughter.

“Sorry, Miss.” The girl ducks her head, ashamed. “It won’t happen again.”

The choreographer glares at her. “It better not! Your performance is in half an hour! It must be perfect! No flaws!” The girls sneer at Daisy.

The speaker buzzes. “Eva Poon, please make your way to the performance hall. I repeat, Eva Poon, please go to the performance hall.”

Just another test

I wait by the curtain, anxiously hopping from one foot to the other. The crowd howls in their seats, eager for entertainment. I hear the harsh BUZZ of the buzzer as the judges send away an act that wasn’t good enough. She runs offstage and I see her wiping her tears away. Another dream crushed. Will that be me?

The host of the show pats me on the shoulder. “You got this, girl. Just pretend this is a dance test. No matter what happens, take a deep breath, and just carry on.” She ignores my protests and pushes me towards the stage.

I am blinded temporarily by the bright lights shining onto the stage. I gasp as my vision clears. The audience is huge and looms behind the three judges at the very front are l. They stare expectantly. I recognise them. Ethan Chung; he’s a singer and radio host. On the other side of the panel is Wang Chi-lin, comedian and TV personality.

Sandwiched in the middle of the two men is a young woman. Her long, black hair cascades down her back. Her hands lie on the table and she sits ramrod straight. Her fingers are long and slim, and she moves with the elegance and fluid grace which only professional ballerinas can achieve. She has been my idol since childhood. Lily Tam. She is the prima ballerina at San Francisco Ballet, which produced stars of the dance world like Misty Copeland. I struggle to close my gaping mouth. Judged by Lily Tam? It’s a daunting thought.

I gulp.


Just pretend this is another dance test, I tell myself, it’s just another test. But with higher stakes.

Lily smiles, not unkindly. She doesn’t seem to care about my stump.

“Hello, there. What’s your name?”

“E-E-Eva. Eva Poon.” Ba-BOOM. Ba-BOOM. Ba-BOOM. I can hear my heart pounding like thunder in my ears.

“How old are you?”

“Fourteen.” Just breathe. Pretend it’s just a test.

She hums. “What will you be doing for us today?”

I take a deep breath. “I’m a dancer. I’ll be doing contemporary dance.”

She looks impressed. “You have ninety seconds. Show us what you’ve got, Eva.”

It’s just another dance test, I think to myself. I nod at the judges, and the lights fade to black.

Rise up

There is silence. Standing in the middle of the stage is a girl. She lies in a fetal position on the floor, curled up in a ball. Andra Day’s Rise Up begins playing in the background. It’s the perfect song for me.

“You’re broken down, and tired.” Immediately, I push myself up, black tendrils of hair curling around my face.

“Of living life on the merry-go-round. ” I lean back and stretch my leg upwards, toes pointed. “And you can’t find the fighter.” My cape slips off my body. One leg is firmly attached to the ground, and the other is facing skyward.

“But I can see it in you, so we gonna walk it out.” Wang looks gobsmacked.

Breathe, I remind myself. It’s just like another dance test.

“And move mountains.” I twist and turn, rise and fall, spin and leap. My body sways from side to side, and I slide to the other side of the stage.

“And I’ll rise up, I’ll rise like the day.” I leap to the rhythm, momentarily airborne. “I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid.” I land as lightly as a cat. “I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” I spin like a ballerina, the world whizzing around me.

“I’ll rise up, high like the waves, I’ll rise up, in spite of the ache, I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” I do an aerial cartwheel, legs slicing through the air while my hands never touch the floor. Yes! I haven’t lost my touch.

“For you, for you, for you, for you,” the singer’s voice croons. Lily is perched on the edge of her seat, head propped up on her hands. Her eyes are wide open, staring at me. I take a deep breath. I can do this. The next chorus plays as my feet fly over the floor as I prance around the stage, my body flying like my heart.

The chorus repeats, playing the last few lines of the song. “I’ll rise up.” I reach towards the audience, pulling them in. “I’ll rise like the day.” I twirl gracefully, like a figurine in a music box. “I’ll rise up, rise unafraid.” I balance on my good hand, legs kicking in the air. “I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” I slide to the floor, kneeling as my arm punches up to the sky.

The music stops.

Judgement time

My breath catches in my throat as I take in the scene in front of me. The crowd is cheering wildly. The judges are all on their feet, massive smiles on their faces.

Ethan claps loudly, shooting me a thumbs up. Grinning, I give him one back. Wang still looks astounded, clapping slowly. My eyes focus on Lily.

She’s the only dancer on the panel, the only one fit to judge another dancer.

The clapping and cheering fades to silence as Wang clears his throat. “What you did just now was amazing!” He gushes excitedly, a childlike tone in his voice. “I can’t even do a split on the ground and I can’t even think of doing a cartwheel, and you just did both in mid-air, and the worst thing? You made it look so easy!” The audience laughs at his infectious happiness, and even I can’t help but giggle.

Ethan nods in agreement. “What you did was phenomenal for a fourteen year old girl. Your strength and agility astounded me, and your movements and expressions matched every single one of the lyrics. You looked fierce. Lily, what did you think of Eva?”

I cross my fingers behind my back. What does she think? Will she be impressed? Will she be harsh? Or will she accept me for who I am? I wait for her judgment.

Lily smiles.

“I agree with Ethan.” I breathe a sigh of relief. “Each and every one of your moves was so precise, and so clean. You’re probably one of the best dancers we’ve seen. You definitely belong here, and we’re glad to have you.” Ethan and Wang nod in agreement. “You’ve certainly raised the bar, and I pity the person who comes after you.”

“Thank you,” I mumble shyly. “That means a lot to me. You’re my idol.” I whisper this in a small voice, but the microphone amplifies it through the entire hall.

Lily smiles. “I’m glad to hear that I inspire people, especially someone like you. When I dance, I treat it like a test of my own abilities, and if that was a test for you, you killed it. Your talent shone through your entire performance, and you didn’t let your hand hinder you. It takes immense courage to do that.” She pauses for a moment, letting her words sink in.

“Most people come on stage and let their nerves overcome them, but you didn’t. I was stunned by your performance, and I think I speak for everyone here.”

She stands up once more, clapping for me. “Well done, Eva. I have high hopes for you. Don’t let me down.”

I blush, thanking her profusely for her praise. She waves it away like it’s nothing. “Thank you, Miss Tam; I won’t let you down,” I promise her.


A girl skips out of the Hong Kong Coliseum. Above her, a flag reading the words ‘Hong Kong’s Got Talent’ waves in the summer breeze. There is a renewed spring in her step. She has faced a test of her physical and mental strength, and she has prevailed.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

The Story of Phyllis Spira

Once upon a time, not so far away, a baby called Phyllis was born for ballet.

Two people in love, her Mom and her Dad, could not have known yet what a dancer they had.

When Phyllis was four she had us transfixed: impressing her teachers with ducky feet flicks.

Before school and after, she danced every day. Nothing pleased Phyllis more than ballet.

The world would soon see, when, only fifteen, she travelled to London to live out her dream.

Far from home and her friends, she was starting afresh. The Royal Ballet school would soon be impressed!

When she danced Swan Lake it was fit for the Queen! After years pirouetting, it was time to be seen!

She took to the stage, leaping, twirling about, with everyone smiling! They clap and they shout!

From Mexico to Canada, the US to France, everyone asked her to visit and dance.

With the Royal Ballet, and all of her friends, she spread love for dancing so it never would end.

Still, Phyllis missed home, they’d been too long apart. She longed to return and to make a fresh start.

So she leaped and she bounded to her beautiful land, to walk once again on South African sand.

Dance isn’t just fun, as Phyllis well knew: she worked day and night, and with hard work she grew.

Always smiling and tireless, through good times and tough,she aimed for her best.‘Good’ was never enough.

Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and Giselle. She captured each audience under her spell.

With Gary Burne beside her, Eduard Greyling too, her dancing was magic in every review.

Reward comes eventually, when you’re put to the test. And one day South Africa would call her the best:

‘Prima Ballerina Assoluta’, greatest dancer of all, her title forever.

Phyllis wanted no more.

Soon Phyllis found love when she met Philip Boyd, a dancer himself! They were both overjoyed.

In love, they soon married, and together they’d dance. No match could be better when given the chance!

They didn’t have children but never were sad, for they had a way to help all moms and dads.

Their school, Dance For All, would give children a chance, from all walks of life, to learn and love dance.

Her gift to the world and all her success help others to realise they can be their best.

They dance for us now, inspired by her feats,inspiring us, too, as we dream in our seats.

A Dancer’s Tale

Created by Samantha Cutler, Thea Nicole De Klerk, Roberto Pita

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This means you are free to share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and adapt it (remix, transform, and build upon the material) for any purpose, even commercially, as long as you give appropriate credit, with a link to your source, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

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nine0000 The 10 greatest dancers of the 20th century - domestic and foreign artists


The art of dance originated from time immemorial, and the names of legendary dancers in the history of culture mean no less than the names of poets or sculptors. In the twentieth century, many dancers appeared who conquered the public in different countries. Since the beginning of the last century, the dance has experienced a real dawn, many dancers have moved away from the accepted canons and created their own unique direction, others have remained adherents of classical dance, but in any case, these people managed to express their creative ideas with the help of movements and music. This article does not rank the best dancers, it is impossible to say which of them was better or more talented. Let's just list those who entered the history of dance forever and after many years will delight and inspire followers with their skill. nine0003

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan is one of the most famous dancers of the early twentieth century. Isadora despised conventions, contemporaries noted that her dance was perceived as a breath of fresh air. The dancer was inspired by antiquity, the girl danced in outfits that were bold for that time, reminiscent of Roman tunics, and Isadora performed most of her dances barefoot. Perhaps Duncan was the first to show that dance is, first of all, improvisation, Isadora boldly expressed her feelings with the help of music and the body. nine0003

Isadora Duncan died tragically while rushing to her next performance in Paris. The dancer rode in an open car, her long scarf wrapped around the wheel.

Rudolf Nureyev


Rudolf Nureyev started dancing at the legendary Mariinsky, then the dancer left for France, asking for political asylum. Nuriev on stage was distinguished by special charisma and emotionality, scenes from the ballet "Romeo and Juliet" paired with Fonteyn entered the history of art as the most powerful performance in a duet. nine0003

Vaclav Nezhinsky


Vaclav Nezhinsky is one of the legendary ballet dancers of the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, video recordings of Nezhinsky's performances have not been preserved, but the testimonies of the audience and archival photographs have been preserved. This dancer was said to be able to fly.

Anna Pavlova


Nezhinsky's partner for a long time was the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Anna Pavlova glorified Russian ballet. Royal receptions were held in her honor, poems and songs were dedicated to her. The ballerina experienced every role on stage, knew how to convey the suffering and joy of her heroines. After the revolution, Anna Pavlova left Russia, moved to the States and began performing solo numbers. The dancer visited Egypt, China, India on tour, and in all corners of the world her performances made a splash. nine0003

Michael Jackson


Ballet dancers are not the only ones who deserve world fame. Dancers in different genres gather full houses and delight the audience. One of the legendary dancers and singers of the 20th century is Michael Jackson. Michael managed to make dance an essential element of pop music. It is difficult to say what was more fascinating in the performances of the artist: his voice or movements. Jackson was distinguished by innate grace and smoothness of movement. His staff often called the maestro a “sponge”, Jackson received such a nickname not only for his flexibility and plasticity, but also for the fact that he simply “absorbed” all new movements and skillfully built them into his performances. In the dances of Michael Jackson, elements of the classics, street parties and many peoples of the world can be traced. nine0003

Notably, Jackson was self-taught, but that didn't stop him from becoming the world's greatest dancer.

Martha Graham


Martha Graham is called the "mother of modern dance". This woman devoted more than seventy years of her life to dancing and choreography. Marta has staged over 150 dance performances and created her own unique dance direction. Graham complemented the movements of classical ballet, created a new language of movements based on the capabilities of the human body. nine0003

Marta was the first dancer to perform at the White House, she was awarded the title of "Ambassador of the Arts", she traveled all over the world, studied the dance traditions of different countries, founded schools and shared her experience. Martha Graham received the highest honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her name will forever go down in the history of dance as the founder of the modern direction.

Josephine Baker


The dawn of jazz culture gave the world not only legendary musicians and singers, but also dancers. One of the legends of the Jazz Age was Josephine Baker, a dancer of African descent. Josephine was born in the States but moved to Paris as a teenager. In the capital of arts, a girl with a bewitching voice and unsurpassed plasticity quickly gained popularity. The first success of the dancer was an African dance, which she danced in a skirt made of banana leaves. nine0003

One of the reasons for moving to France was the racism that flourished in America at that time. In Paris, Josephine did not suffer from harassment, but she struggled all her life with manifestations of racial hostility. Baker adopted twelve children of different nationalities, she said that by doing so she contributes to the fight against racism.

Another interesting fact from the dancer's life: active participation in the Resistance movement during the Second World War. Josephine received a pilot's license, participated in reconnaissance operations, rose to the rank of lieutenant. nine0003

At the end of her life, Josephine returned to the States, she performed on stage until the age of 75. A volcano crater on Venus was named after Baker.

Makhmud Esambaev

In one of his interviews Makhmud Esambaev said: “Dance is my life, with the help of dance I breathe, lungs don't count”. Esambaev is a Soviet dancer born in a small Chechen village near Grozny. At the age of fifteen, Mahmud entered the choreographic school, and at the age of sixteen he performed in the military theater. During the liberation of Pyatigorsk, the artist was wounded in the leg, the doctors said that he would no longer be able to dance, but fortunately, the doctors' predictions did not come true. nine0003

Esambaev performed until old age, and one of the artist's most popular programs was "Dances of the Peoples of the World. " Mahmud showed on the stage not numbers, but short stories-novellas, which combined both cultural traditions and customs of a certain country.

Esambaev also danced in ballet, in particular, in Swan Lake, starred in films dedicated to dance art, became an international laureate of prestigious competitions more than once, received the title of People's Artist of the USSR and several republics, including Kazakhstan, where the dancer began his career , and where the program "dances of the peoples of the world" was conceived. nine0003

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly is one of the most popular American musical stars. Jim Kelly was engaged in dancing, choreography, participated in theatrical productions, made films.

Gene Kelly's most popular role was in the musical Singing in the Rain. The actor managed to convey the character of his characters, emotions, experiences, feelings through dance movements. Kelly performed his famous dance in the rain with a temperature of 39. But it is absolutely impossible for the viewer to guess about the serious condition of the dancer: Jin easily jumps through the puddles, sings, his every movement is filled with joy. nine0003

Colleagues and friends of Jin noted that the warmth and positiveness that could be conveyed through the blue screen were inherent in the actor and dancer in life as well. It seemed that Kelly was completely devoid of stellar pathos and ambition, he was just doing what he loved: dancing, playing, singing.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers


Star couple of American cinema of the 20-40s. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers won hearts, the movements of the dancers conveyed the intensity of passions and quivering tenderness, vivid sensuality and the miracle of the first meeting. Each of them was very good on their own, but together they created real dance magic. It was hard for the audience to believe that the actor and actress are not a couple in real life, they looked so harmoniously together in the dance and in the stage play.

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