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TEDxTaipei '10 - Fang-Yi Sheu on I'm not afraid to be different

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(Applause) Hello everyone. My name is Sheu Fang-Yi. I'm a dancer. And I come from the most beautiful place on Earth -- Taiwan. (Applause) I don't know how to tell you this. My heart is beating really fast and I would love to dance right now if I don't have to speak in front of you. OK I was born into a fairly ordinary family. This is our family photo. Although it was not complete... it was not the real one because my little brother came into our family thirteen years later. Yeah So... My mom and dad weren't highly educated. Dad graduated from elementary school. Mom graduated from junior high. Dad built his business from scratch. Luckily, when I was growing up, we were quite well-off. But... I have to say, I saw my parents' old photos when they were young. Dad is handsome. Mom is gorgeous. But their children all grow up ordinary looking. When I was little, my parents... didn't have high expectation on me. To tell you the truth, I didn't do well at school, but I had always been the one trying really hard However, I never understood why everyday when i sit in front of my desk for a long time I have the book open but then I realize I'm zoning out and can't focus. I didn't get good grades so my family always told me "You know if your grades keep getting worse, we have a factory here in YiLan in the future, you will go be a labor worker and then marry a male worker then give birth to future little worker." And since I was little I had this pose that I would use when I'm thinking what do I want to do in the future since I was little, I didn't dare to dream I felt that I couldn't dream and I can't dream because of my bad grades and then I will have no future up until I was in 4th grade I came upon dancing then I fell in love with the feeling of standing on stage I felt that dancing was the best way for me to escape from reality because I don't want be the me spending her life in reality I want to stand on stage playing different characters dancing this dance or that dance I dance really hard to "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" running around like this and then open my mouth this big pretending like I'm talking Wolf! Wolf! I can open my mouth so big even a fly can fly in But I enjoy it because I can be the little sheperd I don't have to be Sheu Fang Yi up until I entered arts school I met Ross Parkes He was the first person really, I felt who changed my life a very important mentor The first time I attended his class He said: "This student has a lot of potential" I overheard him say this I felt so touched because I never had anyone put their hopes on me before the phrase "has a lot of potential" to me was a REALLY , really big hope I secretly told myself I said "I will not disappoint my teacher" from that day on, I told myself I want to dream, I want to have a dream I want to become a professional dancer five years later I arrived to New York I had two suitcases went to NY Because my grades weren't good obviously my English was bad as well I failed English my first year at college so I had to retake it So when I came to NY the most important thing was the translating machine the translator was basically my life I had to bring it everywhere the first three months I couldn't communicate with anyone but you know.. dancing was body language I went into the classroom actually as if the teacher shows an example, I will be able to do the same then I can also follow my classmates But I must say when you lose an ability or skill like losing the ability to communicating or speaking a language you will realize your eyes and ears will open up REALLY BIG you will focus more on learning through seeing through hearing even if you don't understand you don't know what that is but being in NY there was something heartwarming for me which was the breakfast food truck the breakfast food truck if friends go to NY, it's still there you know.. bagel, and then coffee this is a very fortunate breakfast and it only costs one dollar but because I can't communicate I couldn't say anything I will always be there I'm always "this..this" this was how i was but there was something that made me happy Everyday when I leave that person would say have a nice day then I would feel finally someone spoke to me then I felt like I'm communicating and sharing with the world but secretely I secretly told myself I said but I want to speak English too From that day on I started to learn I know I like to eat Cinnamon raisin bagel so I tell myself one day, I will speak up I will tell the other person what I want so I started to study really hard I said Cinnamon raisin bagel and then I like cream cheese or cream cheese and coffee, please then I continue to study hard after I studied hard enough Morning came (Laughter) on the street almost there I walked foward Cinnamon raisin bagel...cream cheese My heart was about to jump out almost there then I took a deep breath I was really sad After school I wondered why why couldn't I open my mouth but I didn't give up I went home and continued to study it's only this short phrase then the next day came I wanted to try again again, on the same street my heart is pounding so hard then I looked at that... I looked at that... bagel seller I said to him Cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and coffee, please After I said that tears started to fall YES! Why did I say YES! to me this is not something big but in my heart it's a little accomplishment and I accomplished it by myself it was because of my bravery from that day on I learned to be "fearless" I felt "What is there to be afraid of?" afraid of being shameful afraid of being wrong then... if you don't fail how will you learn? Fail once, and you will remember for a lifetime I felt who's being shameful? The most shameful thing is when you don't learn and you're not willing to face it then that's call shameful so from that day on that was... my first bravery I was no longer afraid of auditions I'm no longer afraid of failing I'm no longer afraid of being kicked out after I arrived to Martha Graham Dance Company I I started from being a little trainee to becoming a new dancer then to a group dancer then to soloist then to principal dancer there were a lot of commentaries in NY many people want to go on newspapers but there is a lot of pressure but not every newspaper will say good things about you there are lots of harsh criticisms My family to me is a great support but before that my parents are actually very against this they don't want me to continue dancing because my dad worked really hard to start a family So he hoped all his children to become teachers can stay in an office and enjoy AC but he couldn't understand why I chose such a difficult hardworking job until one day I went on New York Times I cut off my section of the newspaper a little corner took it home and told my father dad, look, I'm on the New York Times then he said, "Oh.." then his friends told him what are you sighing about the New York Times is really amazing you can't just buy it if you have money she has nothing she has no good background she doesn't have any power she has to she has to work hard by herself to go on the New York Times really, at that moment my dad said okay, fine, whatever you want to do then if you want to dance then continue to dance so from then on he said okay, feel free to dance but being on the paper what does it mean to be honest it's not that I don't care about being in the paper but I care more about being on stage this is one time during the NY festival which is something all dancers performers view very importantly a festival a very important time at that time I was already in the papers and received a lot of compliments you know in dance groups there are many different casts and casting lets say I remember that one time there was a very important dance number which was continuous for six stages straight then when I saw the public release of the name list just like at school when they release grades I only had 2 stages at that time, I felt so terrible absolutely horrible then I ran from the 8th floor where we practiced to downstairs gave a call to my teacher Ross Parkes I said why, why is it like this? didn't they say I was the best? wasn't I the best in the group? and you guys joked that I was a start why if I'm the best why aren't I the one that goes on stage the most? I couldn't understand I couldn't accept that my mentor said this was reality the reality he was talking about is actually real life there is no answer that can satisfy everyone there is no answer that can make everyone happy so I went home after I got home I still couldn't understand I had a lot of unwillingness I cried non stop kept crying I had a lot of hatred and had a lot of a lot of anger a lot of grievances a lot of unfairness why?! after crying a whole night the next day early in the morning waking up the first thing I did I put on my backpack and went to the studio I went to the studio why did I choose to go there why after just one night my thoughts were different actually the most different thing was I felt when I feel that I am in a weak state I don't have the right to complain I don't have the right to cry others can choose not to give me chances but I can not choose to give up on a chance I don't want to give up what about those two stages those two stages I want those who came to see Sheu Fang Yi to be proud when Sheu Fang Yi came out to perform So I didn't get more appearance stages I just want to do my best during these two stages so how to do my best accumulate experience myself is the thing I can do and do best this was the only way i had to accumulate my energy it was my greatest weapon I had nothing else what did I want people on the stage couldn't help me... This was no longer about power background or anything else the only thing that can help me the person who can help "ME" is me I chose not to give up I chose to perform on those two stages I decided so what if there is only two stages I want to enjoy the process It is my performance I should do it because I want you to see me on stage and be proud afterwards after I got passed that I felt to me choosing to give up is not something easy to do and on the other hand choosing to give up to me is something I need to learn Because I feel that when you choose to give up it's like slapping your own face saying so then then where was your belief where was your determination giving up is not easy at that time I spent 19 years I...19 years the year I was 19 years old I realized my life's first dream and that was to be a professional dancer I spent another 19 years confirming I really want to continue dancing This is.. I never dared to have a dream that a newspaper on the cover of the magazine when I open it I would see my name right there this is the magazine that did a report on me afterwards, until going back to Taiwan Lin Yin Ting sister helped me published so I said it to her and she helped me published a book " I'm not afraid to be different" To me the name of this book I really really like it but I keep telling myself not afraid am I really fearless actually I'm really scared no matter where I go, I'm scared when I was backstage, I was really scared too I have to go When I'm in NY I have to go on the plane I'm even scared to go through customs I'm also scared of audtitioning I have to open my mouth to say Cinnamon raisin bagel I'm scared but there is one thing I'm pretty good at that is I learn to pretend to be brave and during the process I learn to BE brave that... (Laughter) is something really special having a little bravery can push you to do many many things so what is different about me there are many things different because I'm different from many people very smart and different appearance because I look different many people have big faces but I have a big forehead before I felt that my face was really unappealing because my friends say "your face looks weird so when I see your person it's hard to forget you because you look like E.T." (Laughter) but then my attitude changed I didn't feel bad about it anymore because I felt that was good training afterwards something amazing is many people come to say to me "Fang Yi Sheu, did you know when I see you on stage you shine very brightly you really shine!" then I thought it's because my forehead is shiny (Laughter) so from then on I really liked my forehead many many differences many different thoughts different ways of doing things I have a lot of ways of accomplishing my dream yes in other people's eyes very stupid ways but that is my way of doing things I feel that many I feel the big difference is many people dream and then there are many people want to dream but there are very little who would use their energy to accomplish their dream using dreaming to dream dream, this word make it a verb to make your dream that is what I think the luckiest thing for me is probably family education the children in our family aren't pretty and nothing special about us but each of us work hard I really like this name "I'm Not Afraid to be Different" My name is Fang Yi Sheu Dare to be different My name is Fang yi Sheu Thank you. (Applause) (Applause) (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 36 seconds
Country: Taiwan
Producer: The Big Question Ltd.
Director: The Big Question Ltd.
Views: 294
Posted by: tedxtaipei on Nov 5, 2010

Founder and choreographer of La-Fang Dance Company

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