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Ballet Talk, Q&A with Valerie Sun

One of PRIMA’s youngest ambassadors, the bright and promising Ms. Valerie Sun

Not one to pass on the challenge of learning something new, Valerie Sun entered the ballet scene after an enticing ballet performance that showcased its grace, beauty, and discipline. “I loved the way the dancers moved,” she recalls, “the way they seemed to effortlessly float across the stage.”

Dipping into new waters may have been nerve-wracking for the young Valerie but she remained steady with the help of her several ballet mentors. Taking her first steps as a young dancer under the guidance of her mentor, Ms. Wong Liang Pei of Pei School of Dance, Valerie has since developed her skills and received helpful feedback in improving her technique.

During the days when Valerie is not practicing at school, she diligently keeps up with her routine at home under yet another special mentor, her mom. Despite having a full-time job, Valerie reveals that her mother has always made time to watch her train at home, providing insight into details she may have overlooked on her own, and preparing her for competitions. “She is a super mom, I feel grateful to have both her support and guidance,” Valerie shares.

Ballet has also opened doors for Valerie, allowing her to dance as she wishes and meet people who desire to do the same thing. Among the many people she has encountered, Valerie is proud of making lifelong friends with the people she met during training, even adding that she considers a few of them as her closest confidants. In addition to that special list is her younger sister, who she introduces as Josie, that shares a common passion for ballet. Through the hardships of training, it seems like Valerie is surrounded by people who recognize her efforts, serving as pillars for her as she is for them while rooting for each other’s success.

It is a well-established fact that ballet is not as easy as performances make it out

to be, requiring a lot of time—years, even—for aspiring ballerinas to stabilize their foundation. While Valerie put her utmost dedication into solidifying her techniques, her parents made sure that she would not miss out on any activities a child her age would usually go through. Valerie lists a few hobbies she had, including watching movies, visiting libraries, and having fun at playgrounds. She has also tried out swimming, skiing, and golfing among many sports, as well as traveling to different countries with her family. When it comes to childhood memories, Valerie is delighted to say that she had plenty.

Of course, there were still a few sacrifices made by Valerie while pursuing ballet. Aside from the expected countless hours of training was the amount of traveling needed for competitions and performances. From personal, and emotional, to financial sacrifices, her family has supported her through all of it without any second thoughts. “I know that these sacrifices are made out of love and desire to support me, hence I am forever grateful for that,” she says.

When asked about the competitions she has joined, Valerie reveals that she has been in quite a number of them, the most memorable one being her first which was for the Hong Kong Challenge Cup. As it was her first time traveling overseas for a dance competition, winning the Best Performer Award was like the cherry on top of everything she had gone through. Participating in a virtual competition was also something new in Valerie’s books. When she participated in one for Youth America Grand Prix 2021 and 2023, she shared that she was not expecting a place in the Top 12 for both years, but she knows that she worked hard to prepare for the competition and it was a reward she welcomed wholeheartedly after spending plenty of time with her mentor to perfect her routines.

Valerie admits that there were moments in ballet when she had it rough, the demand needed in training leaving her overwhelmed and, oftentimes, feeling discouraged. Though she is young, Valerie powers through her slumps with the thought of ballet, remembering her love for the art and the joy it ultimately brings her. Whenever there are obstacles that cause her to take a step backward, instead of going further back, she uses the opportunity to look at how far she has come and the other goals she has reached that are now behind her. With this as her motivation, she redirects her energy to lift her spirits back and continue forward.

Injuries are also not uncommon as a ballet dancer, and the young Valerie has quite a few experiences, including Achilles tendinitis and muscle strains. When it comes to such problems, Valerie reaches out to her physiotherapist as well as her mentor to create a recovery plan that will work to her benefit. The recovery plan would usually include her period of rest, rehabilitation exercises, and modified training so as not to ruin her condition. While the sudden decrease in activities is challenging, Valerie is also aware that healing is just as important as practicing so she can be back on stage with her best physique.

Valerie names her TheraBand, ankle weights, and a few PRIMA collections as her ballet must-haves. “I love using many of PRIMA’s wellness products,” she shares. The Nutcracker-Inspired Hair Care Collection keeps her thick hair well-maintained and clean, the Cooling Collection helps her with her tense muscles after every training, and the Bath and Body Collection keeps her feeling refreshed after every shower despite spending the day going through routines.

There are numerous roles, acts, and variations in ballet that ballerinas dream of performing on stage once they reach new heights in their ballet careers. For Valerie, her dream role is Don Quixote’s Kitri, a young and fiery character that suits a talented performer such as herself. When asked what she likes about Kitri’s character, Valerie answers: “She is not afraid to stand up for herself and fight for what she wants.” It was after watching the live performance of Don Quixote in Paris by the Paris Opera Ballet that served as an eye-opener for Valerie as to what comes with playing the role of Kitri. Diving into the specifics of portraying the role, Valerie also understands that it requires a combination of technical skill and dramatic expressions, deeming it perfect for a dancer to showcase one’s artistry and virtuosity.

When it comes to role models, Valerie easily names Marianela Núñez, Prima ballerina of The Royal Ballet, as her own. Valerie shares that she particularly likes to watch Ms. Núñez’s performances because of her ability to deliver emotional depth with her expressions. Known for her impeccable technique, control, and her keen sense of musicality and artistry, the exceptional Ms. Núñez inspires Valerie to take further steps in reaching her goals.

As of the moment, Valerie’s goal is to continue honing her skills as a ballerina to perform with a renowned ballet company. “I hope to inspire and empower others to pursue their passions,” she bravely announces, “just like how my mentors and role models have inspired me.” With her mentality set and body prepared, there is no doubt that the young yet unwavering Valerie will be able to reach her goal and everything else she sets her mind to in the years to come.

Written by: Grace Iglesias

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