It was a pleasure to interview and meet Ardella! Check out her interview below.
How did your background shape your introduction to dance?
Ardella means “ardent and zealous for God.” I am very grateful to grow up in a family of believers, something not to be taken for granted. I was extremely active as a young kid, and began involvement in a lot of different activities in school including: violin, drama, gymnastics, table tennis, track and field and volleyball as well as dance. I gradually dropped them one by one as I grew older, sticking only with dance.
My parents did suspect me for having ADHD because I could not focus or sit still, but once I started moving, everything would start to slow down, and I would be able to find myself again.
I been exposed to Chinese dance, Modern Dance, Hip Hop (voguing and street jazz). I felt something missing as wanted something more solid to continue dancing professionally. I took up ballet at the age 15, which is considered late especially for a girl.
I believe all my diverse experiences have shaped me into the dance artist I continually strive to be. I am very grateful for everything I have gone through and am looking forward to what God has planned for me.
How did you begin Dance and Pilates?
I enrolled into a full time dance institution at the age of 17. I have graduated from SUNY Purchase College, as the youngest dance graduate in my class at 21.
I began learning Pilates at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore under a STOTT Certified instructor. There I was also exposed to other movement disciplines including yoga, tai chi, and zen dance meditation to explore different styles of movement.
I did my Pilates teacher training in college as I wanted to teach Pilates while dancing in NYC. I studied under Simona Cipriana who trained under Romana Kryzanowska a former dancer with the New York City ballet. I received my Classical Pilates Certification alongside when I was completing my college degree.
How has your experience been, pursuing the arts in NYC?
Having only been in NYC for less than a year, I continue to meet new people everyday and am amazed by the amount of diversity and talent here especially in New York City. A profession in the field of dance takes a lot of dedication and hard work. It’s difficult to balance life’s daily struggle, work that brings in income with individual artistic needs.
I have had the privilege to dance with multiple dance companies here: Francesca Harper Project, Curet Performance Project and most recently Delirious Dances by Edisa Weeks, just to name a few. I hope to find my artistic voice through true dancing and choreography (in the future).
Recently when I went back to Singapore, I taught a dance class at Singapore Institute of Management University. People having little formal dance training were receptive and eager to learn. I enjoyed seeing how people process new information thrown at them and using every opportunity to learn. I myself have learnt that the amount of growth participants can make in one class can be exponential, if you have the desire to exceed your own expectations.
Prior to coming to NY, I was teaching young kids for a couple of months at Dance Arts Singapore while attending school and dancing for a few project based dance companies.
The dynamics between teaching kids vs. adults are vastly different, and you have to learn to switch gears fast.
These experiences have helped me become more resilient and know that nothing is impossible. And if you really want something, you will make time for it and make it happen.
What’s your professional goal for the next 2 years?
I hope to continue dancing and make a living here in New York. Everything is so sporadic and it’s hard to pick a direct route. If you’re open, you’ll stumble upon a web of opportunities. I hope to continue learning and growing and eventually start something on my own. (though I don’t know what it will be now) My personality and drive enables me to take risks and be bold, but yet still have my own insecurities.
Praying helps me to find comfort in Christ again and know that ultimately everything can only work through him and him alone.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
How’d you come to relationship with Christ?
I am thankful to be born into Christian family. It is a huge privilege but at the same time, one can become complacent. I was born again when I made the decision to be baptized at age 12.
Making the decision to become a born again Christian is tough, there are a lot of things that people around me were able to do but as a Christian, I had to refrain. It can feel isolating especially in this 21st Century because the group of friends I am around with are mostly non-believers.
It can be difficult to relate and confide in people.
At age 12-15, I took intensive bible study classes and learned the history of books in the Bible such as: Romans, Genesis, John, Luke and Exodus. The classes used to have a year long study on one book, which broke down the verses, discovered the meanings behind them and studied from the writer’s perspective and what exactly the writer was trying to convey. The study would then lead to a discussion on how to practically tie the lessons into daily life.
I am currently worshipping at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in hope of continually developing myself as a young Christian artist in the city.
How have you learned to balance your faith, the arts, and being a light?
I feel that the struggle to do this is real. Little steps that brings about a difference in my life includes certain sacrifices like giving up my Sunday morning Pilates classes so that I could go to church weekly. This also allowed me to attend community group on Sunday evenings. I am still trying to assess how faith ties into arts. As of now, I find it hard to perform the works of others and say it’s influenced by faith. I am not at a point in my career where I have a significant influence in order to be able to share the joy of faith with those I encounter.
I am doing my best to be light God has called me to be by being patient, accommodating and give without expecting anything in return. I have a long way to go in my career but I hope that the baby steps I take now will have a ripple effect in the future.
A point before we move on race, culture, and religion aren’t an issue in Singapore as Singapore places an emphasizes on racial harmony. It is in the pledge we recite in from primary school to high school equivalent here. It’s something I have definitely for granted as it is not like that here in the U.S. The upbringing in Singapore has definitely shaped the way I view people of different races and cultural background, and how it is alright to be different.
What’s your perspective on living artists vs. artists that have passed on?
The living artist has something to offer and share. It may change over time. The lost artist has already given and their body is no longer here.
I think of this quote about life after death as it relates to faith. “Our work we do on earth should point to Christ and Christ should be reflected in the work we do. When we endure judgment, our work has to endure the flaming test. We don’t want our work to perish.”
Everything has gone virtual so you don’t touch and feel it now. Your work as an artist is either going to perish with time or endure the flaming test of judgement. In this life, we can only choose one.