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Ballet Talk, Q&A with Lim Yu Han

Up next for ballet talk with PRIMA ambassador, Lim Yu Han

The ballet talk with PRIMA’s lineup of ambassadors continues with Lim Yu Han. The latter was introduced to the world of ballet at the age of four, with her initial impression of ballet being both beautiful yet challenging.

“Ballet dancers make difficult movements look effortless on stage,” she says, “and I hope to perform like them someday, too.” At a young age, Yu Han knew that she wanted ballet to be a part of her life, but what was truly the pivotal moment in her ballet journey was attending her first stage competition at the age of seven. Right then, Yu Han knew that she wanted to continue dancing for most of her life. It was the magical feeling of performing that made her want to spend a big part of her life on stage.

When asked whether or not did she feel like she lost her childhood to ballet, Yu Han replies: “I enjoyed my time practicing ballet, and to me, I could not think of a better way to spend my childhood.” She also shares that she makes sure to spend time with her family during weekends and that their family has made it a point to travel every year whenever they can to create more memories with her family through fun adventures.

Though Yu Han has no regrets about pursuing ballet at a young age, she does acknowledge the sacrifices made by both her and her family. At times, their family trips would have to be set aside for ballet competitions, as these competitions would usually be held during school holidays. “My mum will be busy preparing me while my dad fetches me around,” she says, “this would take up their time with my sisters.”

During the pandemic, Yu Han also shares that their living area would be converted into a dance studio for her online virtual lessons, the same living area where they usually spend time together and where her sisters would play. “I am always reminded of their sacrifices for my dance and I am grateful for their support,” she adds.

Yu Han shares that she has been mentored by the same person since she was four years old—Ms. Pei from Pei School of Dance. From group classes to one-on-one sessions, she has always been watching over Yu Han and the latter says she will always be grateful for her mentor’s efforts. “She is a very kind and patient teacher. Without her, I would not have come this far,” she notes. Her mentor’s guidance also pushes her to do her best in ballet.

Yu Han also talks about her other mentor, one that has played an important role throughout her ballet journey, and is no other than her mother. Even with no ballet background, she still kept Yu Han grounded and made sure to show her continuous support. Taking time off her day to send Yu Han to every ballet class, help with at-home practices, and even learn ballet terms. These are simply the tip of the iceberg that shows how supportive her mother has been when it comes to fulfilling her dreams of being on stage for a long time.

Like a lot of people, Yu Han has faced a lot of challenges throughout her life. Worries about not being able to correct her critical weaknesses and how to handle her body aches took quite a toll on the young Yu Han. “Thankfully, I had the support from my teacher and my mum to guide me through such tough times,” she shares. Yu Han also maintains the classic ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset in order to pull herself up again, reminding herself that all her efforts will soon pay off and reach her ambition of becoming a professional ballet dancer.

Yu Han has also made a lot of friends from the field, most of which are her classmates from the Royal Academy of Dance whom she met when she was seven years old. From spending time together during breaks and after classes, learning their syllabus for exams together, and to cheering each other during competitions while helping out with their costumes and headpieces, they support each other to the best of their abilities throughout their ballet journey.

Moving on to ballet must-haves, it seems like Yu Han is the type of dancer who prioritizes self-care after classes. She lists just two important things: (1) her back roller and (2) her Blumenfee Collection. She would use her back roller to roll out the tense muscles of her back, quads, and calves. What follows is a quick, three-step routine: using her Rose Epsom Body Spray for her back as it is hard to reach, the Lavender Epson Roll-On Gel for her tired calves, and lastly, the Arnica Epsom Body Lotion for her arms and neck. “I love the floral scent which is very relaxing, and I love that it is moisturizing for the skin, too,” she compliments.

Yu Han reveals that she has actually strained her inner thigh after over-exerting herself, which even led her to take physiotherapy due to the intensity of the strains. During classes, she would avoid high leg extensions to not further exert her strains and use kinesiology tape to provide extra support for her inner thigh muscles. After the incident, Yu Han decided to pay more attention to self-care after every class, rolling down her muscles and using products like PRIMA’s Cooling Lotion to help relieve her tense muscles.

During the first ballet talk with PRIMA ambassador, Kamryn Belcher, she revealed that the role she dreams of playing was Sleeping Beauty’s Bluebird. As for Yu Han, it is no other than Swan Lake’s Odile and Odette. The idea of portraying two different characters on stage would be enough pressure for a performer, with both roles so challenging in both technique and artistry, but for Yu Han, portraying both roles would be as exciting as it is fulfilling. As a matter of fact, Yu Han’s role model has done a wonderful job of portraying both roles.

Ms. Misa Kuranaga inspired Yu Han when the former decided to go back to school and hone her techniques, especially her Balanchine technique. Yu Han also loves watching her performances, pointing out Ms. Kuranaga’s incredible control and artistry when dancing.

We have heard about how Yu Han joined her first ballet competition at the age of seven and has been joining more competitions since then, but if Yu Han were to name a memorable experience from one of her many competitions, she reveals that it would be the Youth America Grand Prix Finals at Tampa, Florida last April of 2022. It was Yu Han’s first time competing internationally, with a stage so grand that it felt incredible for her to be able to perform at such a place. Additionally, Yu Han also claims a spot in one of the ranks. “I was honored to be placed top 24 in the Pre-Competitive Classical Category and I was thrilled to attend the awards ceremony,” she shares.

She also talks about being able to attend masterclasses conducted by world-renowned dance instructors, as well as directors of dance schools. The competition ended with a Gala performance which was spectacular in Yu Han’s eyes, serving as another inspiration for her to move forward with her ballet journey.

Like many young ballet dancers, Yu Han has set some goals for herself. She shares that her long-term goal is to become a professional ballerina in one of her dream companies. Meanwhile, her short-term goal as of the moment is to be able to confidently perform en pointe on stage since it has not been long since she started performing it on stage. “I hope to be able to take on challenging variations of en pointe in the near future,” she remarks.

Written by: Grace Iglesias

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