Permi has 20 years experience of research in the field of respiratory motion in cardiac MRI. She is currently also working with interactive technologies and live visuals for theatre and dance.
She was the first British-Asian professional footballer in the UK and received an award from Prince William and Greg Dyke, the Head of the FA, at Buckingham Palace in 2013 as well as being the first recipient of the Inspiration Award at the Asian Football Awards in 2012. She has been a FIFA ambassador and is a motivational speaker for companies and events, most recently as the key note speaker at the Commonwealth Sports Development Conference in 2013.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
My upbringing was dominated by the restrictions and expectations I felt from both the Indian culture I was brought up in and in the English one I lived in. So I simply wanted to be able to be me, on the agreement to myself that, if I was accepted as me, I would do my best to be the best me that I could. It is still all I want to be as I grow up.
Favorite Things to eat?
Home cooked fried chicken and coleslaw made by my good friend Colleen Meredith Dunkel. All my favourite things to eat tend to involve someone else cooking them.
The History of Love by Nicole Kraus. The slowest I have ever read a book. Every sentence was so beautiful I wanted to make sure I absorbed every bit of it and not miss a thing. Usually I skim read my way through books.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Everyone I bought it for said it was the most depressing book they had ever read but I finished it inspired somehow. I did cry a lot and towards the end wasn’t sure I would make it myself.
Levels of Life by Julian Barnes. “You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed…”. Love and grief. Described as a Taj Mahal made of paper not white marble. I agree.
Monsoon Wedding. It was the movie that made me reclaim my culture and brought Bollywood dancing and DJing into my life. I had never been able to feel proud to be Indian before, only somewhat embarrassed that I was different. After the movie I determined that I would learn to dance and do it with pride at my wedding. Around 50 of us danced two Bollywood numbers at my wedding and the day that I had always imagined would see me break from my family turned into a fantastic celebration of a culture I thought I had lost.
Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?
My favourite dance piece was from Carmen by the Basel Ballet 4 years ago because of all that it opened inside of me. I saw two pas de deux at a charity event that I was dragged along to, I thought I didn’t like ballet so didn’t want to go, and I was mindblown at the end. I remember exclaiming “This is dance? This is ballet? Why did no one tell me before!”. I have done so many sports and activities and couldn’t believe that I had managed to miss this beautiful thing that seemed to move the body and mind in ways all the other things I had done seemed to pale into insignificance besides. I wasn’t allowed to dance when I was young because my parents were worried about the alien Western culture and how it may change us. I also always thought dance was the robotic side stepping I did at school discos and I was constantly embarrassed. A teacher had told me I should be a dancer when I was at school and I couldn’t equate my style of dance with anything that I nor anyone else would want to watch. Nor could I understand how she thought I should be one. And then Jorge Garcia came onto stage and just blew me away. I like to dream that anything is possible but if someone would have said that evening that I would return to that stage 3 years and a day later having worked on a piece with Jorge not even I would have believed nor even dreamt it. Setting up Carta Blanca Dance together is the icing on the cake of that dream.
Sentimentality aside, the best dance piece I have ever seen is Holland by Ed Wubbe. Perfection for me. I was very sad when it finished its run in Basel. I watched it maybe 10 times. The last time I went I cried in a place I had not before but didn’t in one place I normally did. So I felt that I still had at least 5 more shows minimum in me to explore my feelings of the piece. Bring it back!
I like dancers who…
Despite all that is being asked of them are strong enough to retain their individuality and honesty and belief in themselves. I thought it was hard enough being a professional footballer, I think it is nothing compared to the demands on a dancer. I respect and admire dancers very much.
I am afraid of…
Being too afraid to live. Which is usually enough to get me to do anything.
A dance piece should…
I don’t think there are any things it should or should not be. I prefer to keep open-minded and be surprised, entertained and moved by things I would not have imagined. If I had to pick one thing though, I would want a piece to inspire emotion in those that watch and perform.
Something you like to do other your current job?
I am fortunate enough to not have to differentiate what I do as work or life. I only do things that move and engage me and as long as that continues there is nothing else I want to do other than what I do.
One of the happiest moments in your life?
The smile on my mother’s face when she met Prince William last year. All the dreams she may have had as to what my life would be like I think I broke. But then, had I not, I don’t think I ever would have been in a position to take her to meet a Prince.
One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?
“Dropping in” on a skateboard last weekend. Something I couldn’t even attempt as a child. I like being constantly reminded that you are never too old for anything at all.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
Fortunately, little of what I do is public so my embarrassments tend to be more personal. Publicly embarrassing, the biggest crowd I played in front of was when I was playing football for Chelsea against Fulham. We played at Fulham’s stadium after the men’s game against Chelsea. I had sprinted from attack to defence to make a tackle and assuming it was a corner, as I knew I had gotten a touch, I propped myself up against a goal post trying to get my breath back. I was closing my eyes and breathing heavily and gradually I realized the corner was taking some time and the crowd were singing. When I opened them I saw that the opposition hadn’t been given a corner and play had carried on and the crowd were singing “You don’t know what you’re doing”. I decided I preferred when it was only a few family members and boyfriends who used to come and watch.
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
My father who gave everything to make sure our lives would only be better than his. He never got to share in the joy of the futures he helped create for us and knowing how fortunate I am ensures I always try to live the life I have to its fullest.
One of the hardest things about your job?
Deciding something is finished. I am so into what I do I could tinker with it forever. But I think this is a good “hard” thing.
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
To dance in the piece Holland. I would like one of the 3 lead male roles, any one will do.
A question you want to know the answer to:
Will I achieve my goal?
A piece of advice for aspiring artists?
I read a book recently in which it said that an artist is simply someone who does something with a passion. If this is the case then my piece of advice would be for everyone: be an artist.