Chapter 6, Amber Lewis: Transitioning Into a New City

Coryphée dancer with the Hong Kong Ballet

After spending the past 11 years dancing in the United States, first in D.C. then Phoenix, I’ve embarked on a new adventure in life and as a professional dancer. Three weeks after my last performance with Ballet Arizona I arrived in Hong Kong to begin work shortly thereafter with Hong Kong Ballet.

Photo by Ron Brewer

I never had a dream company but after attending a summer program in the U.S. my dream was to dance in America. I spent my last two years of training at The Washington School of Ballet before joining The Washington Ballet. From there I went to Phoenix where I danced with Ballet Arizona for 7 seasons. I consider myself very fortunate to have realized a childhood dream, danced some great repertoire, and work with some incredible artists. However, in my final seasons with BAZ, I started to consider making a transition. It’s been said before and will be said again, but a ballet dancer’s career is short. My situation at BAZ was good but I felt that I was at a plateau and wanted to keep pushing myself to grow as an artist. I did my research, sent out my materials, attended auditions, and ended up with a contract with HKB.

It’s been just over 4 months now since my move and I’ll admit I’m still adjusting. Fortunately, I was able to make the move here with my boyfriend, also a dancer, and everyone at HKB has been very welcoming which has helped a lot.

Off the top of my head here are 3 brief thoughts about changes I’ve experienced since moving here. First, food. As dancers getting the right food to fuel our bodies is crucial. Finding the right places to eat and a good grocery store that carries the food I want took time. Second, the workload. I’ve gone from a 36-week contract to a full year. It’s exciting because the longer season includes 3 tours this year and more performance opportunities but this also means I’m putting more mileage on my body. Managing my recovery time has become increasingly important. Third, transportation. When I lived in Phoenix I had a car so getting from point A to B was very convenient. Hong Kong has great public transportation but it takes more time and energy to get around here.

Photo by David Teran

If someone was to ask me whether or not to move companies I would encourage them but suggest they think about their priorities and motivations for moving. Leaving behind my friendships and comfort zone has been tough but I’m happy I made the transition.

Photo by Tzuchia Huang