On Wednesday, a group of adults will get on stage in Damansara to live out their childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina.
The concert they will be performing is unlike any other, due to the fact that all 17 of the dancers have, at most, just a year’s worth of training in the highly technical dance.
What’s more, each individual will be sharing personal stories of their journey as adult ballerinas.
The concert marks one year of The Royal Durian Ballet Academy, which offers adult ballet lessons as instructed by actress, Nell Ng, who was classically trained in ballet.
Their motto; Body beautiful is loving, accepting & honouring oneself.
Nell emphasises that body-shaming is not allowed in her academy, nor is unauthorised photography, to ensure that her class remains a safe haven.
‘What we discovered as we went, is being able to look ourselves in the mirror in leotards and tights, which is as good as being naked and noticing that we are actually beautiful no matter what shape we are.
“Initially, when I did this exercise of looking at ourselves, it was difficult for some people even to look at their ownself but gradually they learnt to appreciate and love themselves for who they are.
I thought that was really empowering and beautiful, especially for me,” says Nell.
When she agreed to offer adult lessons in August 2015, Nell, at first, did not expect to receive much response.
“I told my friend, Janet Lee, find me four committed ones and I’ll open a class.
“The key word is ‘committed’ – that was my strictest requirement because discipline is important in ballet. I did not think there would be any takers but more than 20 people signed up,” Nell revealed to Eksentrika.
As it happens, not everyone of the 20 had the resilience to stay on for a full year, but at least 11 from the pioneer batch have stuck on and will be among the performers in the concert.
Model and actress, Carmen Soo is among them and despite some background in rhythmic gymnastics, she did not consider the ballet lessons to be a walk in the park.
“Although it was easier for me to pick up a routine for example, there was a lot to unlearn and relearn, such as habits and muscle memory.
“It took a while for me, always having to go back to basics to fix posture, although as an adult it is easier to understand the teacher.
“The past few days have been intensive with rehearsals integrating the changes in lighting and wardrobe for the performance.
“I can’t help feeling nervous because my loved ones will be among the audience.”
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For Aaron Teoh Guan Ti, one of three male dancers in the group, the challenge lay in mastering the dicipline of the craft.
“It is pretty intense. There’s so much that goes into the artform.
“Watching the professionals, who are incredible dancers doing really amazing things with their body, I’ve a deeper appreciation for everything it is that they do.
“If I wasn’t learning, I would think it looks really easy but there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
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Nell says the concert is also a way for her students to take pride in themselves and the progress they have made so far.
“I’m really proud of them as they have come a long way. It also proves that adult learners can pull off a concert.
“Shape, size, gender and age really don’t matter especially when the focus is on making our childhood dream come true.
“I hope adults out there, who are interested in ballet will come to the academy and feel it for themselves,” Nell said.
The concert will be held on October 5 at Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Damansara Perdana. Tickets are priced at RM60 per person and are almost sold out. However, you can try your luck for a seat by clicking this link: www.dpac.com.my or call 03-40650001 / 03-40650002
The Royal Durian Ballet Academy is so named purely due to Nell Ng’s infamous love for the thorny and pungent fruit. Can’t guarantee plus points if you share the same fetish but you can reach out to them through Facebook if you can muster the commitment for ballet.