Ballet dancer

Dominic Lor on being a male ballet dancer

Meet Dominic Lor, a rather young Malaysian male ballet dancer with many accomplishments including winning a scholarship to the Kirov Academy of Ballet, one of the elite ballet academies in the world. Today we find out what it really takes to be a ballerina.

In light of the Olympics, undeniably one of the most popular sporting events in the world, taking place in Tokyo, Japan this year, it’s unfortunate that not all sports are selected, even some of our favorites. In the spirit of celebrating some of these sports, we at malaysia would love to learn about uncommon and underrated sports around the world.

The son of a ballet teacher, Dominic was told to sit in a class to accompany another male ballet student. He was a young boy with big dreams and wanted to be an automotive engineer, but what started out as a favor soon became his passion – it’s like when love calls, your body naturally responds. You can now find him dancing in an airy studio, with loud but soft music playing in the background, accompanied by the whirring ceiling fan. He is certainly no stranger to the local dance community where he trained locally and later ventured abroad to pursue his passion for dance, even receiving a scholarship to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC.

We sat down with Dominic to ask him a few questions about his life as a male ballet dancer:

What prompted you to get into ballet?

To be honest, I wasn’t really inspired to do ballet since I never really wanted to dance. My parents own a dance school and my mom is a ballet teacher herself, so she took it upon herself to enroll me in her classes and I just went with the flow. Slowly I started to realize that I had a talent for ballet and that I really love dancing.

For anyone interested, can you offer some advice on getting started in ballet?

If you have friends, go with them. It’s just a matter of going out there and finding a place that suits you. But my number one advice is to go for it. If you want to do this, don’t worry about what people might think or say about you. It’s about whether you’re serious about it. It’s never too late to start ballet, although I think it’s a bonus if you can naturally move to the music, and flexibility also plays a big role! However, it’s never too late to start training your body to be flexible.

What’s it like to be a male ballet dancer in Malaysia? Did you face a lot of prejudice and discrimination around your interest in ballet? If so, how did you overcome these pressures?

I think I’ve had my fair share of struggles and discrimination around my interest in ballet. When I was in high 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 feels a bit lonely since male ballet dancers are as rare as they come, especially 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 me, which definitely acts as a feeling of encouragement.

I heard that ballerinas should not only be strong and athletic, but also graceful and precise. Do you have to follow a strict diet or train when preparing for performances?

Considering how we have to jump higher than most NBA players and regularly lift women above our heads, we have to be strong and agile, yet graceful enough to consistently deliver moves and performances that rival any professional athlete. So I have to train my body strength regularly, but in terms of diet, I don’t really need to cut carbs or limit my food intake since I’m already so lean.