Sunday, December 23, 2012

Its almost a new year

Last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. November came and went. I'm a year older. I got accepted to present an excerpt of Chameleon at the T.H.E. Contact 2012 festival. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my mother, sister, cousin, and aunt. My boyfriend came to visit me from Connecticut. We went to Bali for my birthday week. I had birthday drinks with a few friends when we returned. My boyfriend went back to Connecticut. :-( But my "sister" friend is in town and we are traveling to Malacca and Chiang Mai as well as taking her all over town. After that I jet off with my real sister and Aussie cousin to Hong Kong for a few days. Very excited to be traveling because I need to get out of town.

I just want to wish everyone Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Here's a video from me and my sister's Christmas greeting video:

Skål for 2013!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Feeling very Western

A banana. The term that is "white" on the inside and "yellow" on the outside. I have a problem with this term but that is for another blog post..

I am very aware of this more so in Asia than I did in North America or even when traveling to Australia. I've always felt this way since I was a little girl. Perhaps its my International American School upbringing. Or maybe its the fact that my parents let me become whoever I wanted to be (I half heartedly joke that I was raised in a non-typical Asian household). Or the fact that most of my friends are a crazy mixed bunch and I don't understand being Asian.

Its especially frustrating living in Asia because ethnically I am Asian. I get talked to in Mandarin ALL the time and I get frustrated most of the time because I'll answer in American English but they will sometimes insist on replying me in Mandarin. I feel like saying "No, I don't speak Chinese" and sometimes I do and shake my head vigorously. Then they get offended. I can't win. I sometimes meet Caucasian folks and they are equally confused at first but then later on feel at ease. Its just the first couple minutes of introductions that are awkward at best.

Sometimes this straddling of between worlds works as a positive. Other times its just all too confusing and often misunderstood. 

Performing my solo from Chameleon at DanceBox in KL. Sept. 2012.

Photo Credit: Huneid Tyeb

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A sense of normalcy...Modern Dance Classes in Singapore

Last week, I started offering modern dance classes in Singapore on my own dime. Meaning - I found a studio that rents out to independent teachers that is in the heart of town with two very convenient locations. (PLEASE COME TO MY CLASS IF YOU ARE IN SINGAPORE! I would be very happy to see you!) I've paid my deposit for the rental of the studio space, and invited everyone I know in Singapore. The space isn't cheap. *sigh* Space is at a premium in Singapore and not sustainable for dance artists who just want a place to rehearse, teach, perform. Anyway, last week wasn't a very good week.

My mother was in surgery. Hurricane Sandy was drowning New York City and turning out the power for my friends, family, and neighbors.

I needed to do something.

I searched online for local shelters, charities in NYC and found several. They need help (still).
1) NYC Rescue Mission
2) Bowery Mission
3) University Settlement - This one is special to me b/c they presented Chameleon in their theater back in May 2010 and then hired me as a freelance dance artist to teach at their Houston Street Center location in the fall of 2010.
4) NYC Service - The Mayor's fund is accepting donations, food, clothing, etc.

On the homefront from Singapore, I'm asking folks to donate money for Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts during my dance classes here and I will spread out those donations to all 4 of the above organizations. When a disaster like this hits so close to home, you really want to find a way to help out.

A part of me wishes that I'm in New York and working with my community on how to recover and return to normalcy with all of my friends.

I<3 br="br" nyc="nyc">

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock: Missing NYC

I'm going through another phase of culture shock. According to the book I'm currently reading (The Art  of Coming Home by Craig Storti), this is the phase where I'm constantly comparing everything or hating everything around me while I become nostalgic for the 'home' that once was.
So instead of a negative post that will make me feel worse (and fall even sicker), I'm going to list the top 10 reasons of what I miss about MY New York City.

1) 24 hour convenience
There are so many delis, restaurants, cafes, bars, drugstores (Duane Reade, Walgreens, CVS are all within a short 3-5 block radius), subway/bus system, and even Korean Spas, hair salon, Apple Store, Best Buy are open 24 hours or very late. I also loved ordering from Seamlessweb or calling in for Delivery when my entire body aches from hitting the hard pavement all day long or when the weather is less than ideal (an extra tip for the delivery guy of course for braving the elements). Fresh Direct, became another convenience delivering groceries to your door! Fresh produce, fresh pastas, sauces, eggs, frozen foods, drinks, toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels were delivered to my home. I actually would spend less than going to the grocery store because I was less inclined to purchase uneccessary items.

2) Abundance of dance classes at the advanced level
I had my pick of modern dance classes throughout the city and there were an abundance of different teachers that taught different styles. Sometimes these teacher were also working choreographers or Artistic Directors of their own dance companies. The styles were varied and I loved it! My favorite dance studio, Dance New Amsterdam had my favorite classes. I remember going to DNA when it was formerly known as Dance Space Center at the space on 451 Broadway right by the Canal street station. And then when the studio moved to City Hall area, I walked to the studio because I lived downtown at that time. I would schedule my week around my morning dance classes at DNA and I could estimate the time how long it would take to get downtown on the 4,5,6 trains. I made new friends taking dance classes at DNA. I also took part in Performance Project and Choreolab when my favorite teachers were leading it. I also took classes from Movement Research, Peridance, and 100 Grand every few months depending on who was teaching. I loved being able to follow favorite teachers/choreographers from one studio to the next.

Group Photo from Performance Project 2009, Stephanie Liapis' piece "Soak"

3) Dance New Amsterdam
The studio where I took classes, workshops, and rehearsed. I choreographed quite a number of pieces at DNA studios. Rehearsal space was affordably rented at about $15/hr. The studios were big, clean, sprung, brightly lit, and easy to get to for everyone. It was like my constant second home in NYC. I showcased my work at the theater during the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference and Choreolab. I also watched performances at DNA.

4) Whole Foods in Union Square & then later Houston Street
When I first moved to New York in 2005, I would spend many lunches after my dance classes downtown at DNA at the Union Square branch eating lunch on the second floor. It had big windows and overlooked Union Square. Made for great people watching, the prepared foods were pretty good and I could eat there solo without feeling like I was the only one. Watching everyone from those big windows and being engrossed in the energy of the city was pretty exciting. I grew more in love with the city during those lunches. I really regret not taking a picture of the view from Whole Foods to share here. As the years went by, I would seek quieter places to have lunch or dinner when I'm too lazy to cook dinner. I have spent some time shopping, browsing, eating, reading a book, socializing with a friend or my boyfriend at the Houston Street location. The more relaxed nature of the Houston Street location gave me a chance to unwind a bit. The layout of the grocery store was large, spread out, and filled with wonderful produce, meat, dairy, snacks, sauces/condiments, bakery, and prepared foods section. Upstairs consists of a salad bar, coffee bar, Italian restaurant, and conveyor belt sushi.

5) Union Square
This is my favorite area in New York. Whole Foods to the south, Barnes & Nobles, Petco, and Sephora to the North, Republic, Lululemon, Tisserie then later Pret, American Eagle to the West of the park. Farmer's Market and the Christmas Market were also extremely fun to peruse and go shopping. I would spend a lot of time in this area. When I moved closer to Union Square, I would spend so much time in the area that I didn't need to purchase a monthly metrocard. I remember when Virgin Megastore was in Union Square. I have memories of ducking in there when the weather was chilly with my boyfriend and check out the video games in the basement. We discovered the Warriors game from the bargain bin and spent one winter playing the game at the end of the day.

6) NYC TCK Meetup group
This meetup group has been like an extended family for the past couple years and I miss the friends I've made through the group terribly. Read my previous post here.

7) Cobble stone streets of Soho and Tribeca
Soho and Tribeca is very picturesque and is a nod to old New York lofts with its cobble stone streets and Cast Iron buildings. Shopping in Soho for Christmas presents, a new outfit, window shopping out of boredom, and working in Soho. I remember spending my lunch hour walking around Soho. Tribeca had delicious restaurants and when I lived downtown, we would frequent Tribeca once a month for a nice dinner or go to dinner in Tribeca after performing or watching performances at DNA.

8) A.H. Dance Company
I miss having weekly rehearsals with my dancers. I miss my dancers. Since 2010, I've also toured a little bit with my company and learnt a lot on how to manage a group on tour as well as logistics. I miss performing and presenting my work at various theaters and festivals with my company in New York. From humble beginnings in 2007/2008 season until now... I'm going to make sure that A.H. Dance Company survives and becomes more of a global reach since I'm now here in Singapore.

9) Favorite restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc.
My list: Basta Pasta, Laut, Baohaus, Sushi Samba, Cafe Sage, Les Halles, Resto, Financier, Bouchon Bakery, Tisserie, Ping's, Saint Alps Teahouse, Baoguette, Rai Rai Ken, Curry-Ya, Otafuku, Aquavit, Eleven Madison, Shake Shack, Eataly, Francois Payard Bakery, Cafe Zaiya, Udon West, Odeon, Baden Baden Chicken, Seoul Garden, Meatball Shop, Lombardi's Pizza, Patsy's, Stand, Babbo, Vanessa's Dumpling, Prosperity Dumpling, Vezzo, Pret a Manger, Franklin Station Cafe, Barbone, Masak, Ennju, Japadog, Vive la Crepe, Rhong Tiam Express, Black Hound, Dean & Deluca, Jess Bakery, 71 Irving, Hawkers, Cha-An, Veniero's, Motorino Pizza, Paris Baguette, Grill 21, Java Village, Argo Tea, Hiroko's Place, Congee Village, Artisanal, Kittichai, Bao Noodles, 'inoteca, Saburi, Fika, Gemini Diner, and a few more places because my memory is failing and can't remember the name of the place but remember the location and food... :-/

10) The Colorful people of New York City
You can be anyone in New York. Its true. I felt completely at ease with myself and felt whole. As a TCK, I'm always sectioning off parts of myself. After growing up like that. It felt good to be whole in a wonderful city like New York City.

But most important of all. New York City is where I spent my twenties (yes, I can say that now as I approach my 29th birthday in about a month!) and most of my working life. I <3 nyc="nyc" u="u">

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chameleon interviews - Heather

In my previous post I mentioned that I've been working with TCKs/CCKs at SAS for the re-setting of Chameleon.
I've been conducting interviews to accompany the solos as the soundtrack. Like in previous solos in Chameleon, the performer is talking about their cross cultural experiences. Most of the time, I can choose what I want for the sound based on the interview. However, this re-setting and editing of the soundtrack is proving to be a challenge for me because I want to use EVERYTHING! Its rather challenging to edit it down to a 2 min. sound byte from a 30 min. interview. Heather in particular has a lot of interesting and relevant things to say and I've gotten the permission to share with you her interview. (Don't worry, I've edited it down to a 17 minute podcast format)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coming full circle with dance & TCKs & Chameleon

I haven't mentioned it in my past couple posts because I thought you'd be more interested to read about my reverse culture shock experiences... I can't not mention it since its pretty exciting stuff (at least to me.

I've been re-setting an excerpted version of Chameleon, the Experiences of Global Citizens to TCKs/CCKs (faculty and dance students at Singapore American School) to be performed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sept. 22nd. The process has been pretty exciting to work with so many TCKs. As with the previous performances of Chameleon, I work with each dancer's personal story especially for the solos. It is very much a collaboration between the dancer and myself in creating a solo that is completely personal. The dance teachers have been cast for solos, a recent alumni and three current students have been cast to learn the choreography from "Frozen Memories" section. The sound for the solos are personal interviews that I've conducted with the dancer and I'm truly fascinated by their stories. It is super inspiring to have this experience!

I'll be looking for more opportunities to work with Third Culture Kids, Expats, Cross Culture Kids, Adult Third Culture Kids, Dancers/Non-Dancers, Artists of other Genres to re-set a version of Chameleon in the near future!

My other part-time gig at the moment is teaching tap dance at a performing arts centre and all of my students there are TCKs as well and all the teachers there are Expats/CCKs/and maybe even TCKs themselves!

How exciting all of this is for me. I'm feeling a little bit more like myself again these days... (more on readjustment at a later post).

btw- I'm excited to also be performing as a Professional in the region for the first time ever! Salud!

While walking through the familiar hallways of SAS, I found these billboards of past dance productions. I was a part of these productions when I was a student at SAS!

Here's the information about the performance in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 22nd.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More on Reverse Culture Shock & Restarting life part 2

I've been feeling lethargic lately and the days are slowly blending together. I have projects, a performance, and a new very part time teaching dance job but I can't seem to muster the energy to hustle for more jobs. I think I'm still feeling woozy from being here.

Living at home with my parents. Again.

I think any normal person who has moved out of your parents' watchful eyes will feel an overwhelming sense of feeling incapable of doing anything independently as an adult. In their eyes, you are still a child (it doesn't matter what age you are). *sigh*

How is it that I have to restart my life but yet also revert back to feeling like a child again.

On the other hand, I feel a responsibility to make sure that I can be available to help my family at any given moment. While I was half a world away, I hated getting the phone calls from my parents about their health checkups or how my baby sister is acting strangely and going through adolescence. (The generation gap is astounding!) My first thought was "What am I supposed to do from halfway across the world? There's not much I can do from here." Now that I'm here, all I can think of is a sense of nostalgia for being able to come home and take time to unwind: take a hot bath before bedtime, watch a guilty pleasure tv show, sip my tea, call delivery, etc.

I'm in a sense, missing my home. The home where I can just be myself.

Now onto more funnier tidbits I've observed or noticed since being in Singapore...

Singapore is so expensive!
I can't believe how much things cost here. Parking, ERP (at different times of the day the rate goes up or down), Gas, Grocery, Wine/Beer/Liquor, etc. The cost of living has definitely increased since I last lived here 11 years ago. Goods have always been more expensive due to everything being imported but I also think inflation has caused the prices to look unbelievable!

Obsession with physical appearance.
In the States, I can usually get away with no make up on a daily basis and comfortable clothing that can also be dressed up or down. I also wear flat walking shoes, orthopedic shoes, or sneakers and will rarely wear shoes with any kind of heel. Before I came back here, I purchased two pairs of cute platform sandals that are also good for walking. These same shoes are being worn almost daily now. My mother has me dressing up so I look "decent" and I am wearing at least a bit of make up if I leave the house. This is not so much as a cultural shock as I already knew this but after a while I'm getting tired of having to do this.

MRT - Why are people walking so slow even during rush hour?!?!
They walk in a much slower pace than folks in New York. I already walk like a Grandma's pace but the people walking in the train stations or malls or sidewalks are generally at a slow stroll! I'm constantly dodging and weaving in/out of people. I couldn't believe that my speed of walking is much faster than most (with some exceptions of course). Back in New York my friends will joke and make fun of how slow I'm walking.

More on my observations in a later post...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Currently Reading: The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti

I'm currently reading The Art of Coming Home written by Craig Storti for obvious reasons.

To quote the book on Stages of Reentry because it seems very relevant:

1. Leave-taking and departure
2. The Honeymoon
3. Reverse Culture Shock
4. Readjustment

According to this... I'm in Stage 3.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Journey of Reverse Culture Shock (or is it just regular Culture Shock?! I'm confused) part 1

Greetings from Singapore!

I've been here for a little over a month now and it has been a whirlwind of emotions. I am still playing tourist in the city/country that I grew up in and also my birthplace. It has changed so much since I left over a decade ago. 

Oh, little red dot. You have reinvented yourself. I don't recognize you anymore. 

The last time I visited was 2008 and even then, I was a foreigner in a place that was very much my home growing up. 

Some changes based on my observations:
1. The once deserted Marina Bay area is now a sprawling behemoth casino & shopping center known by residents as MBS a.k.a. Marina Bay Sands. 
2. Tanjong Pagar has become a mecca for working expats in the nearby financial area to get expense account dinner & drinks. The old shophouses are now turned into multiple trendy eateries, bars, spas, lounges. 
3. There are so many new condo buildings all around the island! The housing market in Singapore is robust and thriving. Rental rates are through the roof here (even more expensive than Manhattan!)
4. Lots of younger expats. I've noticed that there are a lot of foreigners working here that are around my age bracket. When I was growing up here, most of the expats were older and had families. Now there are quite a number of folks that come here are single, un-married, no children, and younger. 
5. New shopping malls crowd Orchard Road and they are also building up shopping centers in areas that were predominately residential neighborhoods. 

Will post more observations in my next post....

Culture Shock....or rather Reverse Culture Shock

The humidity and heat. I'm constantly sweating. Some days, it will rain and I feel grateful for that because its not as hot. Living in tropical weather has never been comfortable for me. My hair has sucked up all the humidity and moisture in the air resulting in flat, limp, greasy, and life-less hair.

I miss my easy-to-style hair. I like to curl my hair and in the States, I don't have to apply gobs of products to make the style stay put (with the exception of Summer in the East Coast). I have to apply lots of products here and it will still fall limp at the end of the day.

I talk and act differently but yet I look like everyone thus resulting in weird stares. I'm feeling the "hidden immigrant" role that everyone in the TCK world talks about. Back in New York, everyone is from all over and the society embraces the crazies. You have to really work hard to stand out. I stand out here because I talk and act differently but if I were walking on the street, you wouldn't peg me as different. When I open my mouth to talk or make a social faux pas, everyone stares. They are probably either thinking I'm a) an idiot or b) a snob for speaking and acting differently. *sigh*  I'm neither here nor there.  

Such is a confused TCK.

More to come....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TCKs are like family

TCK Meetup during the Annual Dumpling Festival 2011
I've been co-event organizer for the New York City Third Culture Kids Meetup group for a couple years now and loving how I've forged really good friendships through the group especially the other organizers (Hi Aradhana & Eddie!).

I haven't written much about the group because I've been busy organizing events and coming up with ideas for the next meetups as they have been varied from formal discussions to picnic in Central Park (we just had our 2nd annual picnic!) to also promoting Chameleon to TCKs and booking performance gigs for A.H. Dance Company to perform Chameleon in different cities (and my other jobs as well!)... time seems to be limited.

I'm a member of several organizations and meetup groups but the one that has seemed to make it onto my social calendar is a TCK meetup. The biggest reason is that I really like meeting TCKs and connecting with them on the level that my non-TCK friends (I have plenty of non-TCK friends) seem to overlook or just don't understand.

TCK Picnic in Central Park 2011

TCK Picnic in Central Park 2012; Photo Credit: Aradhana Hinds

These meetups are super fun and sometimes we have a HUGE turnout and other times, its not as big. Most important of all, we create a warm environment to include TCKs and non-TCKs alike.

TCK Picnic in Central Park 2012; Photo Credit: Eddie Nwabuoku
I meet a lot of TCKs and especially the past few years since performing and touring Chameleon to different cities. I always try to meet up with the local based TCKs. I think its because I need to find my grounding and get the inside scoop on what the city has to offer from the TCK standpoint of view. I'm friends with a lot of TCK/Expat folks in the research world and the online communities so its always nice to put a face to the online persona. In TCK terminology, I'm what you would call a "screamer" but I didn't use to be this way.

We are setting up a TCK Summer book club and our first book is Ruth Van Reken's "Letters Never Sent". I am reminded by her letters the private journals I kept chronicling my very frustration for not "fitting in" or that "no one understood me" and that I would always be alone, etc. It came from a deep dark place of depression and anxiety that left me extremely troubled. Finding out that there are others similar to me, I sought out to find TCKs through Livejournal (before all the social media we use today) and through my universities' online message boards to find local TCKs. I then used my artistic creative talents to make a production based on my story and other TCKs stories using dance and film as my senior project. Years after that, TCKid, Facebook, Denizen, highly visible famous TCKs, and more publications on TCKs surfaced and I went back to the ideas, literature, and production elements to create Chameleon.

It has been a cathartic process for me. I'm also helping a lot of TCKs through the project and making lots of TCK friends. I am very grateful for all of those who I've met through Chameleon and through the Meetup group. My family is many thousands of miles away and to have a TCK family here is just priceless.

- Alaine

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chameleon performance this Sat @ Dance Conversations at The Flea Theater

 Photo Credit: Mei Chen Lioe

A 15 min. excerpt of Chameleon, the Experiences of Global Citizens will be presented during Dance Conversations @ The Flea Theater on March 24th at 7 pm

Chameleon, the Experiences of Global Citizens
Choreographed by Alaine Handa
Performed by A.H. Dance Company

For more information about the festival:

About Dance Conversations @ The Flea

Curated by Nina Winthrop & Taimi Strehlow
Dance Conversations @ The Flea is a FREE film, performance & discussion festival.

2012 Festival Schedule:

Films Playing in the Lobby
Nobody’s Darling by Marta Renzi
Seven Fruits by Pyeunghun Baik

Thursday, March 22 @ 7pm
Moderated by Gina Gibney
Jessica Ray
Movement of the People Dance Company
Megan Sipe

Friday, March 23 @ 7pm
Moderated by Carol Ostrow
Molissa Fenley
Maggie Bennett
Caliince Dance

Saturday, March 24 @ 7pm
Moderated by Pele Bauch
Alaine Handa/A.H. Dance Company
David Appel
Beau Hancock
Talya Epstein

Sunday, March 25 @ 3pm
Moderated by Jonah Bokaer
Peggy and Murray Schwartz celebrate Pearl Primus
Luke Murphy
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Performance this week in DUMBO, Brooklyn as part of the CoolNY 2012 Festival! 

Last year, we performed a 10 min. excerpt of Chameleon at the same festival and received beautiful pictures that we used in our publicity materials all year. We performed Ivi's solo (for the last time :-(  - We miss you Ivi! Hope you're having a blast in Grad school & enjoying London!) and unveiled Tsubasa and Laura's duet that was originally a solo performed by Yoonjung.

I hope you will join us this week for another excerpt of Chameleon titled "Converge" and its the big group section with a fusion of dance styles ranging from Flamenco, Balinese, Postmodern dance, Japanese folk dance, and as always all the stories my current dancers bring to the piece!
This piece seems to evolve by the locations (professional theaters, dance studios, outdoor stage, community centers, gyms, and a cafeteria!), cast (we've understudied each other's parts, substituted, and performed it in so many times in different settings), lighting (or no lighting), with and without projection! hahaha...

Here are the details for this week!
Program E
Feb. 2, 2012 & Feb. 4, 2012
7-8:30 pm

Directions: F train to York Street (1st stop in Brooklyn!)
Here's a map!

View Larger Map

Some of the pics from last year's festival!
Photo Credit: Yi Chun Wu

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New video posted from Toronto Fringe 2011!

I'm finally getting around to posting some video footage highlights from Toronto Fringe last summer! Here's Lauren & Tsubasa's duet to TCK Nikki's story about her experience of growing up in Japan and hanging out with other children of a different culture but embracing that culture as her own.

Choreography by Alaine Handa in collaboration with the dancers
Dancers: Lauren Calzolaio, Tsubasa Ogawa
Film: "I am a TCK" directed/produced by Alaine Handa, Film editing by Nicholas Fox & Alaine Handa; Nikki Felt appears in this film clip

For more information about A.H. Dance Company please visit 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

May your 2012 be filled with creativity, good health, laughter, and happiness!

Another birthday followed by the holiday season, and another New Year's... it seems like Nov.-Jan. is a whirlwind every year and I get sucked into it then immediately spit out suddenly by mid-Jan.

I have lots of travel plans for 2012 and hopefully some of those travel plans also include A.H. Dance Company performances and workshops....

First up for 2012 is the APAP weekend (for those not-in-the-know... it is the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference this weekend) and we are showcasing with Jodi Kaplan's Booking Dance at the prestigious Ailey Citigroup Theatre in the Alvin Ailey Dance Centre right in Midtown/Hell's Kitchen. This is our third APAP and a different venue for us this time. There's quite the lineup of artists showcasing at the same venue so hope you can check it out! 

Speaking of APAP - we would like to extend the invite to you (our loyal readers!) to come see our 20 minute showcase. We will be presenting a 20 min. excerpt of Chameleon, the Experiences of Global Citizens