Napat 'Sai' Rodboon is a professional dancer from Thailand and she's about to make dance her bi(o)tch (excuse my French). She has the face of an angel and a body of an Instagram fitness model, what's not to like? She is also incredibly talented.
As she and her sister were both trained in all disciplines of dance, Sai started to dance at the Aree School of Dance Arts, Thailand's leading dance school and continued her education in college at Chulalongkorn University; she graduated from the Department of Dramatic Arts with honors. Sai, as well, was trained and worked alongside Thailand's respected theater director and playwright, Pawit Mahasarinand, the director of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Assoc. Prof. Pornrat Dumrung and Dangkamon Na-pombejra. She then decided, she wanted to continue her education in the arts, so she flew half-way across the world and found herself in New York.
In 2016 she joined the Broadway Dance Center, New York and joined The Ailey School. Sai is now a professional dancer for a Modern dance company; Elisa Monte Dance, New York. She is the full effin package. Did I also mention she is a fabulous photographer? The list goes on and onnnn.
Sai opened up about the struggles of being a dancer and a daughter away from home (and home to her is approximately 8,651 miles away).
Q: How many hours do you practice in a day?
Sai: I rehearse with the company 5 hours a day but it's only 3 days a week. But then when I have days off I go take classes of different dance styles. I try to go learn from different teachers because you can't stop learning.
Q: Ever since moving to America, what do you find different in the dancing world in America compared to your home country, Thailand?
The first thing is that there isn't a conservatory dance school in Thailand. There is no full-time dance school. There's a dance faculty but the intensity is not the same. Most of the time you just go out to dance studios and take more classes wherever you can, whenever you can.
Another thing is that in Thailand, there aren't that many dance companies. Therefore, there aren't that many opportunities. There are some opportunities for commercial dancing but contemporary, modern, ballet, there's no scene yet.
In New York, every [category] dance has its own whole world. If I were to categorize myself as a modern dancer, then there would be no opportunities at all [in Thailand] and that why I had to come across the world to find opportunities here.
Q: Have you dance anywhere besides the US and Thailand?
In college, I went to Singapore and Taiwan that [Chulalongkorn University] did with different universities in Southeast Asia. But I haven't toured, and I would love the opportunity. On top of traveling, I think it's important to share your art with different groups and different cultures. So I think that's on my bucket list, touring as a dancer.
Q: Are there any disadvantages in being an international dancer in America?
Yes and no. I feel like there was a disadvantage but I'm trying to get over that because being from Thailand, we have a different culture. We're not as aggressive, it's frowned upon. So when I got here I didn't want to be in the first row, I didn't really speak up but then I discover that in performing you can't be in the back. You have to show what you have, you have to be hungry and I changed my whole mindset in getting what I really want
My friend told me once, "You're in America and you need to act American" as an international dancer I have to adapt to whatever works here.
Q: What's the hardest part of being a professional dancer?
I think the hardest part is missing home and believing that you're good enough. Sometimes you can get discouraged because it's not a 9-5 job, it's unpredictable and you don't know when your body is going to give out.
But the missing home sucks. I'm half-way around the world and living in New York is exhausting. I'm here alone. I can call my family and tell my mother how my day went but it's different from having your family physically here.
Just remember why you're here, remember that your family is proud of you for being here.
Q: What is something that you think people should know before going into dance as a career?
I feel like you need patience and work hard. A lot a lot of patience and you just have to believe that you can do it because when you start to believe in your abilities then it will just show in whatever form of dance you're doing.
Dance is hard but you find joy in what you're doing. You might hear dancers say stuff like "I'm dying. My body is breaking" but when you see them on stage you see them living their best lives.
We would be on stage and we'd be like "OMG I WAS LIVING"
If you're going to be a dancer, push through your handwork and [have discipline] because there is no other experience that will give you this feeling. Once you're on stage all the tiredness and pain will be worth it.