#HerWorldHerStory: Meet 16-year-old Deborah Loh, Singapore’s rising ballet star

by Cara Van Miriah; Hayley Tai & Wen Xuan  /   March 20, 2020

#HerWorldHerStory is a collection of 60 women sharing their successes, passions, challenges, inspirations, hopes and dreams. Together, they give a snapshot of what it is to be a woman today.

Every month from March till August, we present 10 women navigating their lives now – and in their own words. Here’s Deborah Loh’s story…

Hair, Eileen Koh/Hairphilosophy using Kevin.Murphy Makeup Aung Apichai, using Urban Decay

The ballet dancer emerged from a faulted performance to win the inaugural 2019 International Ballet Grand Prix Singapore.

I felt like quitting ballet two years ago when I missed a few steps during the last 10 seconds of my performance at the 2017 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong. At that time, I felt like I had failed myself and my teachers. But I recovered from my mistakes and moved on. 

Dance is a very rigorous form of art. In fact, I have to be very disciplined when it comes to practising my routine. Over the years, I’ve experienced a lot of injuries. But I’m more careful now… I won’t push myself too hard when I know I may get injured.

I’m a dance student at School of the Arts Singapore (Sota), and I also perform at the Singapore Ballet Academy.

I commit to a two-hour rehearsal twice a week during performance season, on top of the usual two-hour dance classes that I take thrice a week! It’s a lot of hard work, but I don’t mind.

It has always been my lifelong dream to be a dancer, ever since my mother first introduced me to ballet when I was three years old.

I look up to dancers like Iana Salenko (Ukraine), the principal ballerina at the prestigious Berlin State Ballet. She’s known for her precise ballet technique.

I’m looking forward to the training at the National Theatre Ballet School in Melbourne when I graduate from Sota. This is a scholarship, which is part of the International Ballet Grand Prix Singapore prize.

Besides this prize, I’m really proud of the time when I choreographed a contemporary solo for my performance at Sota last August. It was really challenging, but I set goals for myself to achieve.

And when I finally performed the dance for my peers, teachers and parents at school, it was such a fulfilling experience that I’ll never forget it. Right now, what I want is to become confident in my own skin when I’m dancing.

This article was first published in Her World’s March issue. Grab a copy today!