It is never surprising that everyone who had performed in the Annual Performance of CMT could recognize our charismatic and talented choreographer Arthur.
Arthur graduated from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts in 2011, majoring Chinese Dance with First Class Honour. Arthur has been active in choreographing for CMT’s Annual Performances, and to your surprise, Arthur was the first generation of CMT Starkids member!
After joining CTM Team A in 1999, Arthur had participated in debut “Prince Series” performances, including The Story of His Life, Mr. Anderson, The Flying Prince and Lifeline Express: Digital Prince, etc.
“In retrospect, my first line in CMT was ‘Let me bring you all to Andersen’s Copenhagen’ in The Story of His Life, Mr. Anderson”. When Arthur was 10, this very first line was remarkably unforgettable, especially when he read it in a 3000-seat Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
To Arthur who was completely fresh to dance, the one who inspired him turned out to be his peers.
“There was a classmate who is very outstanding in ballet. In the performance of Lifeline Express: Digital Prince, I was the first actor who danced into the stage in a robotic way. He helped and advised me a lot in that, and since then I realized that I was in fact quite talented in dancing.” The peer who Arthur mentioned is Edgar Chan, now a ballet dancer in Spain. “Of course also Ivanhoe Lam who encouraged me to further develop my skills in dance!”
Inspiration might not necessarily happen in the way of a flash, but it happens more by a long-term commitment, with a group of friends dedicated to the same goal.
Since the re-run of Le Petit Prince in 2009, Arthur had already been an experienced choreographer in CMT. As a senior, he has been strict to learners.
“Sometimes I do teach students a lesson with slack attitude. It is great to see musical as an enjoyment, but it is also important to strike for a balance between enjoyment and commitment. Participating in a large-scale production of CMT is a precious opportunity. Your dedication assures you to learn and grow in performances”.
Taking a closer look at the albums of CMT in the past few years, one could easily find a lot of common and growing faces. Tom is among the most prominent ones.
Tom Chan joined CMT at the age of 4. After several years of training, in 2009 he emerged in the leading role in Le Petit Prince (2nd re-run) . From then on, he played vital roles in Princess Luna 2010, PanPan, Engel der Hoffnung and Le Petit Prince (3rd re-run) . In July 2013, in cooperation with Skywalkers, he directed, translated and lyriced the famous play Grease at the age of 15.
Looking back at the 11 years of CMT life, the most memorable experience was the inevitable voice break as he entered his adolescence.
'It was the 3rd re-run of Le Petit Prince in 2011. I could still sing the high notes during the Reading, but suddenly my tone went low note by note.' The normal but sudden sign of growth was shattering for a boy preparing for the musical performance. 'My pitch descended week by week, and the accompanying orchestra just couldn't afford to lower the tone anymore.' Fortunately, the performance was still smooth with extra practice.
'It was no doubt the most unforgettable performance above all. I had the opportunity to work with professional actors who shared a lot with me, but as my tone went low, I knew the CMT stage is closing for me.'
An end usually marks a new beginning.
My Dream is one of the most popular topics for kids. Yet Tom chose a not-so-popular option of director as he approached the topic.
Even when he had no idea what a director is when he was small, he directed his parents and relatives in plays based on dramas he previously watched. As he learnt more about what directorship really is in CMT, his dream came true as he turned 15.
'I was more nervous than ever. While taking care of the work in translation and lyrics, I also had to work with actors and backstage professionals who are at least 7 years older than me.' Tom led a team of over 50 actors and theatrical professionals in an intensive 3-month schedule of rehearsal. He even travelled abroad with his parents to observe how foreign professionals handled the play.
This is by no means easy for a 15-year-old kid who is empowered only by his childhood dreams.
Behind all his efforts and dreams, Tom had the full support from his parents. They did not attempt to lead Tom's life direction, and instead they encouraged Tom to pursue for his own special dream. 'If the dream of the children isn't anything evil, I think parents should let them pursue it at their own will.' So true for so many children in Hong Kong.
The next dream? 'I hope to study drama in UK next year, and set up a play every summer when I have my holiday in Hong Kong. Roles in front of at the back of the stage are both fine for me.'
'If you have a dream, at least you have to try pursuing it, regardless of all the difficulties or restrictions in front of your way.'
There was an advert line that read 'Talent makes a prodigy; Mindset makes a legend.' Let's hope the power of dream could continue powering Tom to write another dramatic page of life.
Angela Liu, the youngest-ever recipient of the Best Actress from Hong Kong Drama Awards.
Such title might be the dream of many professional actresses or even CMT members. After learning in CMT for 4 years, 12-year-old Angela joined the play The School and I by Chung Ying Theatre, and successfully claimed the prize of Best Actress in the 15th Hong Kong Drama Awards in 2006.
7 years have gone by. The glory brought by the prize was a vital change of Angela’s life. Yet, there was much more to gain for Angela.
Angela started her life of drama in CMT, with her sister and brother when she was 8. She has displayed her great talents in acting after a few CMT performances from The Prince from Baba to Princess Luna. The chance came when Justine and Beilosi recommended her to the audition of the play The School and I.
‘I would have a much different life if I haven’t met Justine and Beilosi.’
Angela is forever thankful to her tutors who set a special standard and expectation for her.
As Angela claimed the enormous prize, she had the chance to transfer to a prestigious local school. While working hard on her studies, she still paid much effort in CMT performances from Le Petit Prince, Disney's Mulan Jr. and Princess Luna 2010. As she was adjusting the many sudden changes in life, she was glad to have the support of her best friends and tutors in CMT.
‘Many of my best friends to date are those I’ve met in this pure environment.’
Every time when the innocent smile appear in her mature face, she was talking about that distant, pure past.
Angela’s growth was influenced by the unlikely elements of press, glory and the sudden change of life brought by them.
‘I was flattered,’ said Angela. She was a 12-year-old girl after all.
‘I left my friends in the previous school. The press started not to focus on me. Few plays require a schoolgirl. These made me a bit lost.’
Fortunately, it didn’t distinguish the fire of acting inside Angela.
‘The most valuable thing I learnt in CMT and drama is the attitude to treat my work seriously.’ With the professionalism in drama, Angela became more disciplined in punctuality and cooperating with others.
‘And the best thing I got from the prize was that it turned my interest to my dream.’
Last year, Angela started her pursuit in the Business Administration degree, following the advice of her family and experienced friends in the acting industry.
‘They convinced me that a Bachelor degree is essential for my life, especially when the road to acting isn’t anything smooth.’
‘Yet I guess I’ll still go for another degree in acting after I finish my current one.’
True, especially for a girl who has used to observe others’ behavior and expression even when she is having a MTR ride’.
‘Because my dream is still becoming an actor.’
Starring as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet 2.0, Chilli has delivered a stellar impression to the audience with her beautiful movements, desperate outcries, and the creative script of the play itself co-written with Justine.
It is intriguing that the energetic actress was a timid introvert back in 4 years ago, when she would not even request the minibus driver to stop the vehicle for her.
In Primary School, Chilli wasn’t as active as her name appears to be.
“I wasn’t an outstanding girl in terms of academic results. That sense of inferiority just overwhelmed me, and I felt I couldn't compare to everyone else.’
Children judge their value on academic results too, not just the parents and teachers.
“When I entered CMT in P.3, I saw my strength was in dancing and acting. It was like I finally found myself.”
Chilli actually attended ballet lessons before joining CMT. “I was just scared to be scolded by my teacher, and when she praised me in front of my mum, I felt unreal.”
“Ms. Sharon of CMT was the first teacher who did not judge me on my results. She figured out my key problem was the lack of confidence, and so she and Ms. Amanda gave me a lot encouragements and attention. At last I felt some teachers bothered to spend time on me.”
Time and attention have become luxury items in modern time, but it was the only way to realize potentials inside children.
“When I got accredited while performing a supporting role, or when my mum told me she was touched by the script I wrote, all these experiences were vital building up my confidence."
While Chilli's dream is to become an actress, she has quite a few options in mind. "I will be very excited if I could be admitted in the APA, but it will also be great if I could become a vet, an accountant..."
Art education isn't only about making professional musicians or actors.
Back in few years ago, Chilli might not have imagined she would display her talents proactively and confidently in auditions. Though an amazing evolution, she now expresses herself at will with the media, while displaying her creative ideas and sensitive observation in the scriptwriting process.
Every child who grows up in arts deserves a transformation.