Why We Dance

November 28, 2001

Taiwanese ballet dancer Liao Yi Hsuan recently filmed an ad for denim company Lee Cooper—and it’s unexpectedly heart-wrenching.

Liao isn’t a world-class ballerina, an artist of such phenomenal gifts that she’s guaranteed success. Instead, she’s like many of us: Talented, yes, but above all, passionately committed to ballet.

In the three-and-a-half minute spot, she describes her struggles with injuries, finances, and self-doubt—and the reasons that, despite everything, she has continued to pursue this art she loves so deeply. The subtitles can be hard to read, but here are a few of her most poignant quotes:

“In the moment of dancing, you can connect with your true self. You can feel your hands, your feet, your heart. You can feel every beat of the music. I can just be myself. It’s pressure free. I just have to do what I do—dance my dance.”

“When I stopped dancing, I realized that I couldn’t feel myself, I couldn’t feel anything in life. So I know I have to keep dancing.”

“If I have a chance to nothing but dance, that will be the most luxurious thing ever.”

“If I can, I’ll dance till the last moment of my life.”

Here’s the full video. You may want to grab a tissue.