I had the opportunity recently to ask Zoe Lam some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Zoe is a phenomenal dancer, she graces the stage with incredible poise and beauty. Her love for ballet is amazing. Below are her responses.
Q1: When did you start ballet?
I started ballet at age 13
Q2: Where do you currently dance?
I currently dance at Pevnev Ballet Academy, Perth WA
Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?
I’ve been en pointe for 4 years
Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?
I currently wear Gaynor Minden pointe shoes
Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?
I first got involved in ballet as I wanted to be part of a performing arts school’s selective program and I had to take ballet to be able to audition!
Q6: What is your favourite variation?
I love so many variations but my top 2 would have to be Gamzatti and Tchaikovsky pas de deux!
Q7: What company would you love to work for?
Honestly, I’d love to dance for any company that wants me and loves me for who I am! Some of my favourite companies that I’d love to be a part of are Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alonzo King LINES, Sydney Dance Company, Netherlands Dance Theatre and Staatsoper Hannover.
Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?
Ballet is filled with so many incredible memories but some of my favourites would have to be the moment when you step on stage and when you finally achieve something you’ve been working on. The feeling of your music starting as you step on stage is like no other, adrenaline pumping and electricity pulsing through your body! The relief and reward that comes with mastering something that you’ve worked so hard for is truly AMAZING. It makes everything so worth it!
Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.
My biggest ballet role models would have to be Marianela Nunez, Claire Calvert and Misty Copeland. They all have such beautiful upper bodies and artistry, Allowing them to truly capture the essence of ballet
Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?
The best advice I’ve ever received from a teacher is to “take what works for you and leave the rest!” In a world where we are constantly overloaded with information, it’s important to understand and realise that not everything works for everyone. Although every teacher will have different ways of teaching and explaining, not ever teacher’s method will work for you. If it doesn’t work listen understand and be mature enough to know that it doesn’t work for you. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong but it just isn’t the right thing for you! It allows you to have more space to take in and perfect what works for you!
Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?
The advice I’d give to a younger version of myself is to “not lose sight of what you love!” As someone who started ballet quite late, I really felt the pressure of trying to improve exponentially. I was taking class with girls who were 4 or 5 years younger than me and although it was definitely the right thing for me, I felt almost defeated. I didn’t look like them because I was so much older and my body had started taking shape and I was at the same level as them despite being fat older! In those moments I felt like I lost sight of what I loved and instead became so consumed by the way I looked and all of the things that were wrong with me and my technique.
Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?
The best thing about being a ballerina is always having something to work towards! Nothing in ballet comes easy and I love having challenges to work towards!
Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?
The hardest thing about being a ballerina is definitely the self criticism and perfectionism. It is so difficult to look at yourself in a mirror for 8 hours a day picking yourself apart so that you can improve! It highlights flaws and increases insecurities, all in the pursuit of perfection!
Q14: It seems like such hard work, did you ever have days growing up where you were like “ugh maybe I’ll just pick an easier career so I can be like a normal teenager”?
Ballet is so mentally and physically exhausting so I’ve definitely had days where I thought it would just be easier to give up but my love for the art form and love of the freedom and Release that it gives means truly helped me to grow to love ballet even more!
Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?
As much as I love a classical pancake tutu, I just love the feel of a romantic tutu and I’m a really sucker for a romantic ballet! I love their quaint and beautiful personalities and postures!
Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a “serious” injury but I’ve had my fair share of niggles! My worst injury was probably breaking my foot mid ballet exam and then completing the rest of the exam completely unaware that I’d broken my foot! It definitely came as a shock when we got to pointe work and my foot was so swollen that I couldn’t fit it into my shoe! Made for a laugh afterwards but it really was a miracle that I had so much adrenaline pumping through me that I barely felt the pain! It took 8 weeks in a moon boot and a lot of rehab mixed with slow recovery but I came back stronger and more determined than ever.
Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
When I’m not dancing I love baking, reading and studying! I am an avid procrasti-baker and love the methodical precision of baking. Reading for me is such an escape and I love getting to explore far off lands and deep dive into people’s lives without leaving the comfort of my bed! As strange as it may sound I also love studying! I’m currently undertaking a bachelor in Psychology because I love learning and studying! There is something about learning new information and thinking about things deeply that is so comforting to me. Being able to expand my mind makes me feel so free!