November 19, 2014
Being a ballet dancer, moving to Berlin has inspired Patricia Zhou to launch her blog The Ballerina Chef. “It was here in Berlin, a city that is so constantly morphing and oozing with creative potential, that I was inspired to start blogging about my two passions, ballet and food.”
I moved away from my family when I was 13 to attend a professional ballet school in Washington D.C. . After four years of training, I received an offer to apprentice with the Royal Ballet in London, and that’s what brought me over to this side of the world. My contract in London was temporary. I moved to Berlin the following year. I’d received a contract with the Staatsballett-Berlin after coming to audition – along with 200 other girls – on a freezing weekend in 2012. I had a hard time adjusting at first. I was still 18 and though I was used to moving and living alone, Germany was still a whole new country with different customs and a language that I couldn’t understand. I was a new girl in the company, and a shy one at that. I felt like I had a hard time fitting in, and spent most of my evenings alone. With our grueling schedule and the stress from learning so much new choreography, I barely even found time to explore the city. I definitely didn’t go out much.
I used this time alone to unwind in the only way I knew how. Food. Food has always been one of my passions, and though it might seem contradictory for a ballerina, cooking and baking has kept me sane. Learning about food and finding how to apply this knowledge has played a vital part in my career. In knowing the way food is grown, raised, why it tastes the way it does and what makes one lettuce more nutritious than another, I’ve been able to provide my body with the fuel it needs to dance, jump and perform in a more sufficient and interesting way.
Most people don’t know much about my job as a ballet dancer, all they see is the glitz and glamour of the ballerina’s tutu and the way we fly through the air lifted by beautiful men. They don’t realize that a lot that happens behind the scenes: my job could be seen essentially as repetition. Repetition, repetition and more repetition, and while most people would find that exasperating, I find the the daily challenge of working towards the unattainable goal of perfection addictive. I’m constantly discovering new things about the way my body moves, different ways to interpret music and little nuances in what can seem like the most ordinary step.
Slowly but surely, Berlin has won me over. I’ve now lived here for two years and it would be strange for me to think of anywhere else as home. It was here in Berlin, a city that is so constantly morphing and oozing with creative potential, that I was inspired to start blogging about my two passions, ballet and food, and it’s been a fantastic way to share the intriguing life of ‘ballerinas’ whilst also challenging the public’s misconceptions of dancers. I want to bring ballet to the forefront of culture – where I believe it belongs.
One of my favorite places in Berlin has to be Monkey Bar at the 25 Hours Hotel near the Zoo. It opens at 15:00 so I love spending the afternoons there with friends or working on my blog and other side projects before the crowds come in. There’s something so inspiring about being so high up and seeing the whole landscape of Berlin from above. (And if I’m feel like something sweet, a cheeky piece of cheesecake along with a Five Elephant coffee won’t dissuade me either.)
To me, Berlin is a city of endless possibilities.