Ling Zhang

When she’s not performing for the Royal Family, Ling Zhang is working towards a Bachelor of Computer Science and Information Systems here at the University of Auckland.

The accomplished dancer developed her passion for dance at just 3 years old. Since then, Ling has performed and taught dance all over the world. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Ling recently performed with JLo at the Superbowl at the beginning of 2020 (pre Covid-19)!

We’ll hand you over to Ling to tell you what a typical year looks like as a member of the Royal Family and how that has changed due to Covid-19.

Interview with Ling

How long have you been dancing for?

I did ballet for 10 years before transitioning to hip hop. In total I have been dancing for 16 years.

How did you first get into dance?

My mum was a Chinese dance teacher back in China. She would tell me stories of how I came to classes with her when I was three years old and tried to learn with all the big kids. I think dance has always been an innate interest of mine and as both my parents love the performing arts, it was inherited in a way.

What would a typical year look like for you? And how has that changed this year (2020)?

A typical year involves lots of travelling with my dance crew - The Royal Family. We tour many different countries performing our show and teaching workshops. My favourite one to date is the Parris Project World Tour in 2017 - where we traveled to 16 countries in six weeks. The last two years have also consisted of working with artists on jobs, which I am so grateful to be able to experience. Covid really turned things around this year! No travelling means no tours and this is the longest I’ve stayed in Auckland for since 2016. I’ve learned to appreciate the online community, where we can continue to learn from each other and share our work during this pandemic.

What has this year meant for you as a performer?

A much needed reflection and inner growth period, something we tend to neglect with a hectic lifestyle of constant travelling and being around people. Don’t get me wrong, I love performing onstage the most and it is something I will never lose passion for. However I think it is so important to slow down, digest experiences, reflect on lessons and feel gratitude for your blessings. I feel recharged, replenished, and when covid leaves us, ready to give an even better version of myself onstage.

What was the highlight of 2020?

The highlight of 2020 was definitely performing at the Super Bowl with JLo in February. I remember dancing to her songs in competitions when I was 13 years old, watching her music videos and being so inspired by her live performances. 10 years later, I danced with her in real life at the Super Bowl. Miracles happen and dreams do come true. This all wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for my mentor Parris Goebel. She has literally paved the way for NZ dancers to perform on the world stage and opened doors of opportunities for many aspiring dancers. Super Bowl involved two months of preparation and being able to learn, engage and share energy with female powerhouses like JLo and Parris during that time was truly life changing.

What has been a challenge for you this year?

Not travelling. I love flying, exploring foreign places, immersing oneself in new cultures, connecting with people from all walks of life and most of all, performing and sharing my passion for dance. In saying that, I’m grateful to have more time for uni, room to nurture a few new hobbies, and opportunity to teach more in Auckland.

What are your plans for next year?

As soon as borders open, I am out of here, but if covid stays for a while longer I plan to do
more papers at uni, continue to grow as a dancer and ride the waves as they come. I believe that no matter the circumstances, as long as you do your best and keep growing as a person, the opportunities will naturally come your way and you will end up where you are meant to be.