Having started dancing at the tender age of four, Aerikka Ho May Yin has tremendous passion for ballet. Today, this passion has led her to a greater milestone. Ho, 17, managed to realise her dream as she was the first Malaysian ballerina to be accepted into Ballet West in Scotland.
Ballet West is a reputable ballet dance school which has produced internationally acclaimed dancers.
According to Ho, she fell in love with the beautiful art form when she first watched her older sister dance. She was just three at that time. Being accepted into the prestigious ballet school is more than just realising her dream. In fact, she hopes this paves the way for other aspiring dancers to be given more opportunities.
“I hope this art form will be given better exposure in our country. I am certain that Malaysia is able to produce many world class dancers,” said Kuala Lumpur-born Ho.
Speaking of role models, the youngest of three siblings looks up to dancers such as Misty Copeland and Martha Graham. For her, their energy and dedication to their craft is inspiring. Ho described them as performers who have broken stereotypes and unlocked many opportunities for dancers around the world.
Other than dancers, Ho admires brilliant choreographers such as Frederick Ashton and Vaslav Nijinsky. She respects them as they are choreographers who have composed dance movements into a beautiful art form.
In 2016, Ho made her debut in The Dance Society of Malaysia’s classical ballet competition. Even though she did not bag any award, she gained invaluable experience from her preparation for the competition.
Undoubtedly, the competition was a confidence booster for Ho. She started ballet dancing at the Federal Academy of Ballet in Petaling Jaya. Then she moved to KL Danceworks to further develop her skills.
“I spend six days a week practising, ranging from one and a half to three hours per session,” explained Ho in an email interview.
Although injuries and fatigue are an inevitable part of prolonged dancing, there are countless reasons for her to enjoy the journey.
“The rewards, such as dressing up in ethereal costumes, storytelling, the backstage rush and euphoria from performing live, make the challenges easier to overcome,” said Ho, who also enjoys building camaraderie with other dancers through dancing.
Despite her love for dancing, she recently had to prioritise her ICGSE exam; she scored straight As in her subjects. Before the examination, she took a two-month break from ballet. Since birth, Ho has kept long hair that extends to her calves. However, she had to cut it off to accommodate the full-time training at Ballet West.
“I never wanted to cut it as my mother used to do my hair up with bows and clips when I was little,” she recalled. “Nonetheless, as the weight of my hair impeded my dance training, I had to do so. It is just one of the many sacrifices I had to make in the pursuit of my dream,” said the dedicated ballerina.
Her journey in dancing would not have been as smooth without her parents’ support and encouragement. “My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to pursue any career path we wanted,” said Ho.
Ho made sure she was fully prepared before she flew off to Scotland. She took ballet classes six days a week, and did exercises such as cardio workouts to improve her stamina. Upon graduation, she will receive a BA (Hons) Dance from Ballet West.
Ho is hoping to perform with a dance company in the future. She pictures herself to be a strong, confident and diverse dancer, not only in ballet but in other dance forms as well. To the young dancers who are on a path to achieve their dreams, Ho has a message for them.
“As cliché as it sounds, always believe in yourself and enjoy what you do. It is the first step in realising your dreams,” shared Ho.