Fang-Yi Sheu always loved to dance, but the island of Taiwan was too small for her ambition. She wanted to dance on the world stage which meant she had to leave her uncomprehending parents behind and take her chances in New York City. The Art of Departure chronicles her life, living as a star of the Martha Graham Dance Company.
1. If not for dancing, would you ever have come to the United States?
No. I am a dancer who dances in New York, but I don't know how to enjoy life in New York. I don't know what "life" means to me in New York. In New York the only think I do is dance. "Happy and sad," I fight with myself every day. Dance and life will never be in one place, no matter where I choose to stay. I will never feel complete because both of them are my dreams.
2. You had to move to New York to become a professional modern dancer. Do you think modern dance will flourish in Taiwan to the point that future Taiwanese dancers will have plenty of opportunities in their homeland?
I want to believe that, yes, it will one day. It may take time, but one day, I believe.
3. Do you think your "nostalgia," as you put it, for Taiwan has any effect on your dancing, perhaps as emotional fuel?
Yes, I am that kind of person. I don't know how to express myself except through my body through dance. But I still miss home very much. That's why "Herodiade" is a great dance for me but also a hard dance for me. If I can wish anything, I'd wish for dance and life to be in one place.
4. Would you encourage other artists to move to New York to pursue their dreams?
No, but I will encourage them to follow their hearts and their dreams. Don't give up too easily. Give yourself a chance to make your dream come true.
5. Do you still expect to return to Taiwan to settle down?