Strong, graceful and artistic, Rattanaporn ‘Ratt’ Apichaitanarat is an acclaimed Thai classical dancer and aerial hoop teacher. Incredibly talented in athletic aerobics, Ratt talks to us about how she started her career.
I became interested in dancing… when I was young, and I was a naughty tomboy back then. My mom then started sending me to various classes at an early age. I tried many activities such as swimming and music lessons but none of them were for me. But I fell in love with Thai classical dance the moment I tried it. I love how I can express my myself and my feelings through dance movements. And ever since, my mom has been encouraging me to follow my passion, and I’ve never stopped dancing since.
A dance performance that I am most proud of… would be a graduation project I did during my senior year at Naresuan University, where I majored in Thai traditional dance. We all had to perform on stage, and I chose an act from one of the ancient stories written by King Rama V named Lum Hab. Only been five people have performed this act since the Lum Hab has been written, and I am one of them. All the parents were there to see their kids perform and of course, my mother was there. That was the last performance she saw before she passed away from cancer a few months later. For me, that is the one performance I will never forget.
I went from Thai traditional dance to the aerial hoop when… a friend of mine invited me to try out a pole dancing class. I was working as an office girl at that time and it just didn’t feel right. That class made me feel complete again. I like how dancing makes me feel. It doesn’t matter who you are; as long as you complete a tough routine on the pole, you feel like you are winning. I soon tried to combine Thai classical dance movements with pole dancing but I found the pole dancing outfit too revealing. I then started looking at aerial dance art. Later, a friend informed me about an aerial hoop competition in China, which she thought would be perfect for me. Even though I had never done aerial hoop before, I applied for it. For me, it was an opportunity to show how Thai classical dance can be incorporated into a new form of art. In the end, even though I didn’t win first prize, I gained valuable experiences and great memories.
When Thai classical dance is compared with aerial dance art… I realised that Thai classical dancers – even though we have strong legs – we are not really flexible at all. For instance, I couldn’t do the splits or bend like most aerial artists can when I first started. So, I took up yoga and gymnastics classes to enhance my flexibility. Clips of aerial artists doing crazy moves on YouTube really inspired me to do better, to get to that level. It served as motivation, and it made me practice more often and try harder.
My word of advice for aerial hoop students… would be, don’t give up if this is what you love. Aerial hoop isn’t very popular in Thailand just yet because it requires a lot of strength. You need a lot of strength to lift yourself up and hold on to the hoop. Sometimes it’s painful but follow your heart. Believe in what you can do and push yourself to be better every single day.
Contact Rattanaporn Apichaitanarat at +66 90 389 8167 or @rat_apichaitanara.