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Ballet Talk, Q&A with Joey Lum

Passing the baton to the next PRIMA ambassador, Joey Lum

At the early age of two, Joey finds a home for herself in dancing. During the search for where her interest lies, the young and curious Joey has tried various things, playing the piano included. “While practicing piano, little me could hardly sit still and strike keys in accordance to notes,” she shares, “however, in dance, it was totally different.” The athleticism that comes with dance is one of the many things she enjoys with the art, followed by the expressions and the focus it requires from her.

Joey notes that there is joy in working towards ideals that can never be attained in just practice, and dancing gives her that freedom in exploring herself and her identity. Ballet has helped her grow, both as a dancer and a person, allowing her to maneuver through tough challenges with creative solutions. While Joey has missed a few childhood experiences if given the opportunity to go back in time, she proudly shares that she will still take the same path and learn ballet.

In the process of laying her groundwork, Joey’s mentor—who she calls Miss Yan—has been an immense help in every way there is. Miss Yan has opened the doors to many possibilities, allowing her to compete and perform on various stages while gathering experience throughout the past seven to eight years.

Throughout those many years of ballet, alongside Joey were also her peers whom she met and forged relationships with. Joey shares that she enjoys dancing with her friends, the feeling she gets from simply syncing their breaths and channeling each other’s energy during practice being one of the best feelings she has ever felt. “Exchanging experiences with each other makes learning more fruitful,” Joey also adds, revealing that they support each other regardless of circumstances, whether it be during practice or onstage.

However, one of the downsides that come with Joey’s pursuit of ballet is the lessened time spent with her loved ones. Due to being in school or working as a mentor, her schedule does not give her much freedom to work in order to spend more time with her family. Despite that, her family remains the most important to her, and tries to make time for them whenever she can, cherishing every moment no matter what the occasion may be during times she can be with them.

Joey especially thanks her parents, who she proudly claims as her biggest supporters. Through thick and thin, rain or shine, they have always been her pillars. From driving her around for classes, and traveling around the world for competitions, to even converting a part of their living space into a place where she could practice her dancing, she recognizes their sacrifices for her and feels thankful for their continuous support.

From regional, and national, to international ballet competitions, Joey has joined several of them throughout her ballet journey. Her most memorable experience is from when she was invited to the Youth America Grand Prix Finals at New York back in 2019. “I had such a fruitful time and experience,” Joey says, but she also follows up with a story of her getting extremely jetlag as it was her first time flying to New York. “Thankfully, my mom and I planned to fly in a few days before the competition,” she shares in relief, “I had time to adjust and adapt to make sure I was in the best state to compete.”

During the competition, she also reveals that she was able to take classes held by notable teachers in the field, making international friends along the way. The unfamiliar environment allowed to her learn from a unique perspective and draw inspiration. Joey also recalls a memorable experience during the Masterpiece International Ballet Competition in 2019, where she received the overall highest-scoring soloist award after she performed her favorite solo, the Kitri Variation Act I.

In order to reach greater heights, Joey has been continuously training every single day which she reveals to have had her feeling burnt out occasionally. Joey dealt with this by making it a point to adjust her training schedules, ensuring that she has enough time for her to try out different hobbies that could help refresh her mind. “A short break lets me feel better and ready to press on ahead even harder,” she says, her determination evident.

As a dancer, Joey believes that her main instrument is her body, which is why she prioritizes self-care above other things for herself to sustain her daily training. Joey reveals that she loves using the Sugar Plum-Inspired Damage Repair Collection after practices as she loves to have her hair in a neat bun, often using a lot of hairsprays to keep it tidy. “This set can help strengthen my hair and maintain growth by repairing frayed ends and protecting my hair against further breakage,” she further explains. She then uses her Arnica Epsom Body Lotion on areas where she feels sore, a perfect partner with her golf ball which she uses to roll her exhausted muscles. “It really helps relax my muscles,” she says, “and also prepare my body for another long day of dance.”

If there is something Joey is extremely thankful for, it is the fact that she has never had any major injuries throughout the entire time she has been dancing. There were common injuries, of course, like pain in her Achilles heel or minor ankle sprains, but it was nothing she could not overcome by simply putting ice on the injured area as well as elevating her legs before bed every time she goes to sleep. Though overlooked most times by many dancers, Joey personally thinks that warming up before and cooling down after class is extremely crucial, making sure that the body is properly stretched and muscles are rolled out to prevent any injuries.

When asked if she has any dream roles that she wants to be able to perform in the future, Joey reveals that she has always wanted to perform as Coppélia’s Swanhilda, a fitting role for a lovely girl like herself. “I love the acting and how Swanhilda has to pretend she is a doll,” she explains, noting that mastering the facial expression of a doll is not easy, but while it is challenging, accomplishing it would be quite the feat for the budding dancer.

Joey finds inspiration in many ballerinas, unable to select just one when asked who is her role model. If she were to name a few, Joey mentions Maria Khoreva, Skylar Brandt, Marianela Núñez, and Natalia Osipova as the ones who she looks up to the most, explaining that they are all distinctive and inspirational in diverse ways. Seeing them perform leaves Joey feeling extra motivated to do her best in her own training, their strength, control, dynamics, and artistry in dance is enough to have her mind blown.

Joey’s goal is no other than to become a professional dancer, traveling around the world to perform on various stages where she could show off the results of her years of hard work. But for now, Joey will be accomplishing small goals step by step, determined to complete her solo seal examination from the Royal Academy of Dance. With her consistent routines and continuous training, PRIMA has no doubt that Joey will be one of the many rising dancers in the ballet industry.

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