My name is Callista Setiawan and I am 14 years old. I'm from Indonesia and I learn dance at Marlupi Dance Academy.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started dancing because of the TV show Angelina Ballerina. I loved how beautiful ballet looked, and I'd always start dancing when I heard some music playing! I learned ballet when I was 3, and it was when I moved to Marlupi Dance Academy that I started doing more professional training. I now am a student in the Part-Time Program and have joined several international competitions, winning medals too. I am happy to be where I am now and hope to achieve more in the future.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, my life as a dancer isn't that easy, especially since I am one of those people who doesn't have 180 turnout and amazing flexibility, etc. But because I love ballet, I never give up on achieving my goals. And I can prove that my persistent training has made me improve so much! Of course, as people say, no pain, no gain. ;)
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I was born with bended knees. In ballet, this is something that really affects my performance. And it is really obvious. When I moved to Marlupi, my teachers started giving me exercises to stretch it better. The result? My knees may not be totally hyperextended, but they can be straight now!
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
When I was in my old ballet school, there was an annual performance. I was very excited because I was on the second to front row. But on a practice, my teacher suddenly moved me to the back row. I was quite little then, so I felt really sad. My teacher said that my bended knees made the performance look 'bad'. That's why I sometimes wished I had straight knees. Fast forward to now, I accept how my knees look, and I always try my best to straighten them. Rather than complaining about them, I am thankful for how I have nice artistry and performance.
How do you conquer negative talk?
Instead of thinking you are a bad dancer because of your weakness, focus on the other gifts you have. It could be musicality, arch, etc. Remember, no one is perfect. Every professional ballerina in the best companies has a weakness too. You're not alone. We're all in this together. ♥
What is your favorite quote?
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” – Nelson Mandela
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I really want to join YAGP in the future. It is an amazing competition and would be a great experience for me!