Meet Dominic Lor, a rather young Malaysian male ballet dancer with plenty of accomplishments, including receiving a scholarship at Kirov Academy of Ballet – one of the world’s elite ballet academies. Today we uncover what it truly takes to be a ballerino.
In light of the Olympics, undeniably one of the most popular sporting events in the world, taking place in Tokyo, Japan this year it is unfortunate that not all sports make the cut—even some of our favourites. In the spirit of celebrating some of these sports, we at Augustman Malaysia would like to uncover some uncommon and under-appreciated sports around the world.
The son of a ballet teacher, Dominic was told to sit in for a class to accompany another male ballet student. He was a young boy with big dreams, and wanted to become an automotive engineer, but what initially started as a favour quickly became his passion — it’s like when love calls, your body just naturally answers. Now you can find him dancing in an airy studio, with the loud yet gentle music playing in the background, accompanied by the whirring fan on the ceiling. He is definitely no stranger to the local dance community where he has locally trained and later ventured overseas to pursue his passion for dance, even receiving a scholarship to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C.
We sat down with Dominic to ask him a few questions about his life being a male ballet dancer:
What inspired you to take up ballet?
To be honest, I wasn’t really inspired to take up ballet since I’ve never actually wanted to dance. My parents own a dance school and my mother is a ballet teacher herself, so she took the initiative to enrol me in her classes and I just went along with the flow. Slowly, I began to realise I had a knack for ballet and that I truly enjoy dancing.
For anyone who’s interested, can you offer some top tips for getting into ballet?
If you have friends, go along with them. It’s really just going out there and looking for a place that suits you. But my number one tip is to go for it. If you want to do it, don’t worry about what people might think or say about you. It’s all about whether you’re serious about it. It’s never too late to start ballet, though I think it’s a bonus if you can naturally move to the music, and flexibility plays a big part as well! However, it’s never too late to start training your body to be flexible.
What is it like being a male ballet dancer in Malaysia? Did you have to deal with a lot of prejudice and discrimination surrounding your interest in ballet? If so, how did you overcome those pressures?
I think I’ve had my fair share of hardships and discrimination surrounding my interest in ballet. When I was in secondary school, I was constantly called names like “gay,” “sissy” or “weird.” But that doesn’t stop me from pursuing what I love. I mean it does feel a little lonely since male ballet dancers are as rare as they come, especially so in Malaysia, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. However, nowadays I see and meet more men who share the same interest as I do so that definitely acts as a sense of encouragement.
I heard it is a requirement for ballerinos to not only be strong and athletic but graceful and precise. Do you have to keep to a strict diet or training when you’re preparing for performances?
Considering how we have to jump higher than most NBA players and lift women over our heads on a regular basis, we do have to be strong and agile but graceful enough to consistently deliver moves and performances that rival any professional athlete. So I do have to train my body strength regularly, but in terms of diet, I don’t really have to cut down on any carbs or limit my food intake since I’m already so scrawny.