Meet Julian Wen-Sheng Gan, a teen from Subang Jaya who recently bagged a silver medal at one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions
The 17-year-old is the first Malaysian ever to have graced the finals of the Genée International Ballet competition held in Toronto, Canada.
Besides the silver medal, he also received the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award.
The competition was organised by the London-based Royal Academy of Dance.
According to Malay Mail, the academy has Queen Elizabeth II's patronage and is known as the world's most influential dance and training organisation.
Prior to the competition in August, Gan practiced day and night
The teen, who has been dancing since he was three years old, shared that his warm up consists of barre and centre exercises, petite allegro jumps, and grand allegro leaps.
After that, he would go over his routine with a teacher who would assess his form and technique.
He also told SAYS that his favourite aspect of ballet is storytelling through movements.
"The fluidity of movements mesmerise me. There are so many great dancers out there that motivate me to be better everyday."
The young dancer's journey to victory was also met with hardship and sorrow.
Just a month before the competition, Gan lost his father to cancer.
He told SAYS that at 63 years old, his father passed away two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
He said, "I have not quite come to terms with it, but I've learned how to cope. It still saddens me whenever I think about him."
It was mentally challenging. It was so hard focusing on the competition while dealing with loss.
In an interview with The Star, he said, "Throughout the competition and even now, I would have flashes of him, memories or certain things that reminded me of him."
He also shared that he was bullied as a child for enjoying a 'feminine' activity.
However, he urges other boys who'd love to try ballet to just go for it.
Facing bullies was a difficult part of his childhood but he managed to rise above it, he shared.
"Actions speak louder than words. When results appeared, the bullies were no more."
"Other boys who are interested in pursuing ballet should definitely go for it. The dance world is tough but it is such an emotion-filled art form."
This boy is such an inspiration. Great job, Julian!