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@sumsumsumarlinah

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Last year I ran a new series for Liminal magazine, boundless. It’s a series of conversations with other mixed race people who live in Australia. It’s such a joyful and heartwarming project to me. I didn’t grow up with a strong sense of identity, and didn’t have a lot of Asian or mixed Asian friends. I wanted this project to showcase some of the many inspiring Asian-Australians, for other people who may be grappling with identity, shame and representation to have a source of pride they can to refer to anytime they need. I often go back and read interviews myself, they always manage to cheer me up! 

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I didn’t understand myself as Asian-Australian for so many years. For one, I am white-passing so don’t have to confront the same levels of racism as others. I also used to be so ashamed of being different. I just wanted to be simply “Australian” like everyone around me, and not have to answer questions or justify my existence, pull out a flowchart detailing my family’s many migrations.
Especially as someone who is often read as ethnically ambiguous, defining myself seemed to be an elusive exercise. And then in my mid-to-late teens I started to grapple with not being female, which kind of threw another spanner in the works… one that has truthfully been more confronting for me.

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I had a residency in January that I used to develop a body-based practicing I’m calling transomatics. It’s a culmination of dance and somatic practices that focus on being in the body. Being trans, being non-binary, often means we don’t spend a lot of times being present in ourselves. We can experience severe gender dysphoria and just general unease in our bodies because they don’t present the ways we want to, or aren’t read the way we want them to be. It’s hard living in a society so hyper fixated on gendering. 
I want to offer a practice that invites my trans and gender-non-conforming community to (re)connect with our bodies—how they are right now. Transomatics is a simple series of exercises that don’t require anything other than you, your body, and the floor. I hope this project can offer a sense of ease, acceptance, and connection.

    

Thank you. I feel so grateful to be developing this work, and using my dance background to connect with my trans and gender-non-conforming community. From the feedback gotten in the last session we were allowed to run (pre-lockdown), I think the best thing about this project is that its run by trans and non-binary people for trans and non-binary people. It’s really not often that you get a room that is exclusively trans, and that alone is a really special moment I treasure a lot.

Watch one of their recent work below
 A music video for 30/70, Choreographer and Dancer (2019)
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I’ve been dancing since I was 3! I started out doing classical ballet and contemporary, and went to a part-time ballet school until I was 16. I dropped out to focus on finishing high school, and would do public classes whenever I had the time. As the years went on, my body changed and I couldn’t keep doing ballet the way used to be able to. I wasn’t training the same way, and, well, things change. 


Now I mainly do contemporary on a freelance basis; I’ve choreographed and performed at events and in music videos. Dance has always been a channel for connection for me, I connect to myself and to others. I never wanted a career in dance, just to move. So it seemed like a natural transition into making movement more approachable for non-dancers.

    

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I love bodies of water! So so much. In so much of my life and identity I feel fluid, I don’t know if that’s the reason I love water so much, but I feel like we are kindred in that way. As I mentioned before, dealing with gender identity and presentation is a tricky and sticky experience (on a good day). There is something incredibly powerful to be submerged in water; that makes you aware of the exact outline of your body. I don’t know, I just think it’s comforting to feel the edges of my self, where I end and the rest of the world begins. Water does that for me.

    

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I am classically trained, and ballet is traditionally very gendered, and very white. Though, there have been significant shifts in the ballet world in the last few years (Misty Copeland, Jonathan Batista, and Juliano Nunes are great examples). 


Even in the strange world of ballet, I am so grateful for what it taught me; perseverance, discipline, and negotiating with my body.


Dance is demanding, it requires an open and ongoing conversation with your body. Even though I don’t love my body everyday, I know that we are partners in this life— we need and sustain each other. I feel really lucky to have this kind of symbiotic relationship with my body, and dance definitely taught me that.

    

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music video for Queen Daddy, Choreographer and Dancer — 2019

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@sumsumsumarlinah

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