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FACE VALUE - JAMES VU ANH PHAM


1. NAME, AGE, LOCATION?
Jimi, 23, my current location is Wellington in New Zealand, but I live in Melbourne, Australia.

2. WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m a professional contemporary dancer by trade.

3. WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER BE DOING?
I’m really happy doing what I’m doing. Initially I enjoyed the pure joy of moving, and it still is that, but now new things have popped up like travel and meeting new people. My biggest motivation now is to connect with other people, make something together and not feel like I’m just someone’s dancer. I really want to get in there and explore together.

4. HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS?
My physicality is very different, and my values are slightly different as well. I think everything’s a bit more settled but I also feel a lot more adventurous. I have the confidence to go out and be okay with not knowing what’s going to happen. I relish in that, rather than when I was 18 and I really wanted to know what I was doing and wanting to achieve very highly. Now it’s okay to not be so good at something; there’s a reason for it. I can get better, or maybe it’s not for me. I’ve achieved enough that I feel like I have a lot of support around me and I feel comfortable taking a risk. It’s like any relationship where you feel like you’ve got to a certain point; there’s more room for pushing boundaries. 

5. WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO?
I definitely look up to Mum and Dad. They’ve been together pretty much their whole lives and it makes me think how I’ve never really spent that much time with anyone. I don’t feel like I have the strength of the courage to make that commitment with anybody. To be blessed with growing up surrounded by that love, I know I’m very capable of experiencing that love for myself. I’m very thankful for that.

6. HOW DO YOU LOOK AFTER YOURSELF?
A couple of years ago I had a stomach ulcer and it was because of my diet. That made me realise how important my health is, not just as a dancer but also as a person. Just being able to walk out of the house is something people take for granted. I’ve grown very attached to vegetables now. But I also allow myself to splurge and have a good time. Letting loose a little bit is healthy to achieve balance.

7. DO YOU THINK MEN NEED TO MOISTURISE?
I think there should be no difference between a woman’s skin and a man’s skin, it’s just skin. If you want to look after it, moisturise, especially if you’re in weather that dries you out. 

8. WHAT DO YOU CARE ABOUT?
I care about my own happiness. When I’m very happy and I feel very full and whole, I’m much more able to support everyone else around me, as well as myself. When I dance, I’m able to contribute something very real and genuine to the audience, and allow them to feel full themselves. I’ve done some shows where I’m not so happy and it really affects my performance.

9. WHAT DON'T YOU CARE ABOUT?
I don’t care about expensive clothing. I make my clothes look expensive but you won’t find me wearing anything that costs above 20 dollars. I enjoy wearing oversized shirts, and in order to make them look expensive, I just tuck them into my jeans and roll the sleeves up. 

10. HOW IMPORTANT IS HONESTY TO YOU?
Honesty is one of the most important things. I didn’t fully understand that until I was involved in a relationship where the honesty wasn’t very good. That made me realise how important open communication is, even when it’s really hard. If you have a problem and you layer it up with other problems, it just gets bigger, so you might as well be real about it. If I’m being real, I make strong connections with people who are real.

11. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE WRONG?
If I’ve made a decision that’s gone wrong, I’m really good at convincing myself that it’s all meant to be and I made that decision badly for a reason. 

12. WHAT'S THE MOST BRUTAL TRUTH YOU'VE FACED?
I couldn’t sleep the other night, so I went out in my backyard just to sit. The sky was very clear and I could see all the stars. I imagined someone sitting on one of those stars looking back at me, and I realised I’m not going to make much of a difference no matter how hard I try. There’s just no control over anything. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to control things and there’s almost no point. Just have a good time.

interview conducted by Max Olijnyk.

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Brutal Truth