We had the good fortune of connecting with Abbygale Chung and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abbygale, why did you pursue a creative career?
Growing up, I always loved performing. Dance was my creative outlet. When I graduated high school, I followed my friends to university and started a Bachelor’s of Science degree. My heart wasn’t in it, though: I knew dance was my real passion, but I felt pressured to pursue a traditional education. I finally had an epiphany while sitting in class one day. I realized I only had one life, one shot at pursuing what I really wanted. There was no need to conform. I had the option to pursue something different, something extraordinary—why was I forcing myself to do what I felt was expected of me? I knew I had the potential to do something challenging, something different. Dance had always been the thing I’d excelled at, the thing that made me truly happy. I realized I needed to be doing everything I possibly could to make a career out of it. Even though I ultimately chose not to continue with post-secondary, I think it was an important experience for me to have. It solidified my pursuit of dance as a professional career, and helped me realize just how lucky I am to have found my true passion. Shortly after withdrawing from my program, I received a $9000 grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to pursue commercial dance training in LA. I was 18 at the time. It completely reaffirmed the choice I was making: dance lived in me. When I pictured my future, I always imagined myself performing live in shows, creating choreographing, working with artists, teaching internationally. Receiving the funding I needed to make that dream my reality, knowing that it meant there was a community behind me that believed in my potential as an artist—that was a life-changing feeling.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m proud of my versatility as a dancer. I’ve always admired dancers who can execute any style with confidence, and I trained hard to become one myself. I love the different skills that different types of dance demand from me: when I create jazz funk choreography, for example, I focus on athleticism, technique and stamina. When I create heels choreography, my goal is to elevate natural, feminine movements while showcasing the elegance of dancing in heels. When I create “flowy” choreography, I focus on body oppositions and water-like movement. It’s important that I continue pushing myself and my range, but I’m always confident my training has given me the versatility I need to thrive in my environment. I’ve always been a pretty competitive person, and my determination has definitely helped me to get where I am now. There’s nothing better than feeling like I’m performing at the top of my game. It definitely hasn’t been easy: pursuing dance as a career has pushed me to be way more extroverted than I am naturally! I’ve always been quiet and a bit of a tomboy. Something as simple as getting comfortable being on camera took me a lot of trial and error! I’m proud of the changes I’ve made though, because they’ve also helped me to be more confident and bubbly in my life outside of the studio. I’ve learnt so much along the way, and am constantly learning and growing my knowledge. Recently I’ve learnt how important it is to show gratitude to my body for all the work I put it through. Massage therapy and regular self-care are extremely important. Most of all, I’ve learnt that my belief in myself is more important than any outside validation. In this industry, rejection can turn people away from their pursuits. If I know I’m working hard and bettering myself every single day, I’ve learned to not let external options bring me down. I want the world to know I pursue dance because I love it. It makes me so incredibly happy. It’s the most fulfilling, joyful feeling for me. I know pursuing a career in the arts can seem like a risk to some people, but the core of it is so simple: I pursue what I love, and what I love most is dance.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
What a great question! First of all: Trader Joe’s, all the way. Stock up on healthy snacks for the week. Then we’d settle into a cute little rental away from all the chaos and have a beach day! My pick would be El Matador. Maybe some shopping on Ventura or Melrose. Later, we’d have the best risotto ever at one of my favourite restaurants, Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine. We’d finish it out with an LA classic: admiring the city lights from Griffith Observatory.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Totally! My mom deserves a major shoutout. Dancing professionally can feel like a mental battle, but she taught me from a young age to have a thick skin and handle rejection gracefully. She taught me to stay focused on my goals and pushed me to be my best. Though the truth was sometimes hard to hear, she was always my biggest supporter. She spent countless hours driving me to class, to competitions and performances, making sure I always had what I needed. She’s my best critic and my biggest fan, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
Redd Angelo, Kyra Jasman Photography, Romy Young Photography, Shalene Dawn Photography, Mikaela Archon