Dai Ailian's Early Life

Dai Ailian was born in Trinidad and Tobago, an independent republic in the West Indies in 1916. Dai's forefathers had been living on the island for many years, but led a miserable coolie life when they first arrived at the place. But after several generations of hard work, things became much better. By the time Dai Ailian was born, the living conditions of Chinese people were improved. Dai's father planted sugarcane and coffee, and also conducted business in food supplies, cotton cloth, and stationery. The well-off family provided Dai access to a good education.

Dai Ailian in Youth

Dai liked to play with her cousins on the sea beach to pick shells, swim, paddle a boat, fish, climb trees, or even play soccer. Playing outside the room all day long, Dai saw the tropic sun burned her skin to a dark hue. Hence her family intimately nicknamed her as the "cocoa chocolate."

When Dai was five, one of her cousins who was studying dance in Britain visited Trinidad. Her cousin, soon after finding that the little girl was very good at expressing the rhythm of music with her body language, taught Ailian some basic ballet moves. When Dai was six or seven years old, she began to perform children's dance on the school's stage. At 10, she choreographed and performed a dance by herself called Colored Egg , according to the Easter custom.

Her Performance

Upon her mother's persistence, Dai was accepted as a student of a white teacher's student despite serious racial discrimination at the time.

Growing up on Trinidad, Dai had four dreams. The first was to become a singer. She then wanted to be a navy soldier because there were many ships visiting the island, and she was interested in the life of a sailor and very curious about the world. Another dream was to be a musician because she started to play piano at the age of 7. She even set her sights on becoming a painter.

Her Performance

Although she began taking ballet lessons at the age of 5 and enjoyed dancing for family members after dinner every day, she did not think seriously about dancing until she was 14, when her mother sent her to London. There she received ballet training by such luminaries of ballet and modern dance as Anton Dolin, Dame Marie Rambert, Rudolf Laban, and Mary Wigman.