My name is Ilona Jahja, 13, and I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. I dance at Marlupi Dance Academy.


Photographer: @seansideup

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

I started ballet at the age of 6. I started homeschool in 6th grade to focus more on ballet. I joined lots of competitions abroad to challenge myself more. Without the help of my amazing teachers and supportive family and friends, I wouldn't be the person I am now.

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?

It has not always been easy, especially times like this, where we can't go to the studio fully and practice all out. Sometimes it's also very hard for me to fight the negative thoughts in my mind. Sometimes it's also hard for me to motivate myself when I'm bored or tired with ballet, but I think it's normal to have that kind of feeling where you feel bored and tired with something you do literally every day and repeatedly.

What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?

I don't think this counts as a limitation, but I have a problem of comparing myself with others that makes me think I'm not enough. I always compare myself with others like - why are they so skinny - why is she improving a lot and I'm not - why does she have very good technique - etc. But I learned that comparing yourself doesn't change anything, and it makes you stress. Don't focus on other people's success and compare it to yours. Because if you do, you will be blinded by their improvements. Then you will think to yourself, why am I not improving?

Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?

Well, I would say probably yes, but I just can't think of which one 😅.
I always try to say that you are who you are, and you can't let other's limit what you can do. It's your life and not theirs. If I still can do more, then I'll push myself.

Photographer: @ditophotogram

How do you conquer negative talk?

I think to try not to put it to your mind and heart because they will make you sad and feel down. People talk negatively about you because they're jealous of us. I will try to prove them wrong by doing the best I can.

What is your favorite quote?

"When you've done your best, what doesn't go according to your plan is according to His." - Author Unknown

Photographer: @humanartphoto

So, what’s next? Any big plans?

My next goal is YAGP 2022!

Aug 21, 2021

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