My name is Yu Han, from Singapore, and I turn 10 this year! :) I go to Pei School of Dance.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Since young, I have liked ballet very much as I found the movements beautiful. I started learning ballet when I was 4 years old. It was an enrichment program in my childcare center. I met my first ballet teacher Miss Wong Liang Pei (from Pei School of Dance) then. She told my mother that I can continue with more formal ballet classes in a ballet school. I have been her student since I was 4 years old till now.
I train 3 to 4 times a week, which includes both my private training and Royal Academy of Dance classes. I will practice at home too on days that I do not have classes.
At first, ballet was like a pastime to me. However, I started to have a strong interest for ballet after I watched my first ballet performance, “The Nutcracker” performed by the Singapore Dance Theatre when I was 6 years old. Watching professional ballerinas dancing on stage opened my eyes to the real world of ballet. I was even more determined about my passion for ballet when I had my first competition on stage at 7 years old. It was my first ever competition, and I felt like a different person on stage. I loved every moment of it – the spotlight, dancing to an audience, and hearing the applause from them. I won 1st in my first competition too. It gave me a lot of encouragement to train even harder and pursue dance. I know I want to be back dancing on stage again.
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?
Ballet is very challenging. Many movements require strength, understanding of the details, and long-term training. There are endless things to work on - stamina, stability, turnout, upper body, so many to think about. I will set goals for myself to achieve. For example, to be able to do triple pirouettes, or to train for high arabesques with the correct placement. Reaching these goals takes time and training, but when I am able to perform them with stability and most importantly, look effortless, I have a strong sense of fulfillment.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
The difficulty I face is I am not gifted with some of the natural facilities that some dancers have. One of them is a flexible body. I feel I have a tougher start, as being flexible was not natural to me. However, I believe that hard work can make up for it, such as training extra hard with conditioning exercises. I think I am more flexible now, but I do not stop what I have been doing because it is important to keep myself in good condition for ballet.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
I received great support from my teacher and family. I would say the only limitation I have faced was from myself when I was younger. I felt stuck with certain difficult movements, and I was not able to overcome them myself at times. When I had such feelings, I would close my eyes and think about what it is like to be on a very grand stage performing, with the spotlight and have all the audience cheering for me. Then, I would feel better and tell myself to continue pushing on as my stage is waiting for me.
How do you conquer negative talk?
My mum told me this before, "Believe in yourself, work hard, and you will be unstoppable!"
My teacher will tell me "Do your best and enjoy being on stage!"
I tell myself "This is my dream, and nothing can take that away from me!"
What is your favorite quote?
"Don't Limit Your Challenges, Challenge Your Limits." - Martonek Jr.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I hope to continue with the same competitions that I did last year. I was very happy to have been placed Top 12 in the pre-competitive classical category in the YAGP Asia Pacific. I am hoping to participate in YAGP this year again and perform better than I did last year. :)