Catching 21-year-old Ryan Lim outside of teaching classes was no easy task indeed. Aside from juggling his own YouTube channel (more on that later!), he supports Legacy Dance Co as a crew member, and even attend competitions as 1/6 of Kairos, the all-boy team that charmed audiences at Singapore Dance Delight Vol.6… sounds like much to do for someone who considers himself as “still a nobody”.
Sitting down with him to have a long chat after class, where thankfully he has nowhere else to run, it was not hard for us to tell that Ryan is a very humble and easygoing person. From bursting out into laughter in between sentences and relaxing as soon as he is told “this is not a formal interview”, he delivers his thoughts with frankness and fervour.
Like many of us dancers, he fell in love with dance after watching someone perform. For him, it was the humble primary school assembly performances that got him interested. And he never looked back, going on to join the modern dance club in secondary school before entering Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s New Revolving Age, graduating as the much-loved (he begs to differ) president of the club.
How did he manage to stay on for so long?
Dancers often meet various challenges along the way, not least feeling left out or getting rejected, resulting in many of them losing the passion after the “honeymoon” phase. Pitching this to him, he muses for a moment before replying, “You have to be resilient. In clubs, the opportunities are often presented to you, but out of the club, you will have to start looking for your own opportunities.” He nodded: “Sometimes you won’t be able to get every opportunity that is out there, sometimes the opportunities are not even out there.”
So did he meet any challenges himself?
“Of course!” He chuckled. “Did you know I didn’t get through for O School’s recital in secondary school? But of course, I was still a novice then.” For him though, there were other more serious challenges for him. His jovial face turned slightly serious, he revealed: “The main challenge for me was my mother. She was very against it, often asking me when will I quit and chastising me with ‘Dance No Future’.”
For Ryan, the only way he could convince his mother of it was to continually invite her to his performances and competitions, showing her that dance was worth his time. Gradually, his mother began to support him and his belief that dance can be a sustainable career – a business. Ryan contemplated: “Parents always want the best for us, and I couldn’t see that when I was in secondary school. I kept thinking that she just disliked me being in dance, but now I understand her initial worries.”
His understanding of her constant worries were what fuelled his motivation to continue dancing. His mother’s faith in him, as well as those of his loved ones was what spurred him to be better and stronger. “When people have faith in me, I want to prove to them that I can do it, and not let them down.”
Turning to what he intends on doing in 5 years’ time, his reply was unexpected of a dancer. “Get a degree.” Ryan declares. Wasn’t his greatest dream to stand on the world’s stage, travel around and teach classes? “That’s the ambitious one, but I want to get a degree as well!”
Hence what does he have to say to all the aspiring dancers and contemplating-to-be dancers? He deliberated: “Always take the first step, try to find friends that have a similar interest and train together or go out and look for like-minded people who are willing to share their knowledge. Once you feel more comfortable, go out and take classes. Just go forth!”
As soon as we mentioned his greatest inspiration, his eyes lit up. “Jillian Meyers!” He exclaimed. Claiming that she changed his perspective on dance, he went on to fanboy about her. “You can see her personality through her dance. When she dances, she shows how powerful dance can be. You realise it’s a two-way exchange, you can really impact people and really change lives.”
Aside from Jillian Meyers, he cites Chris Martin as the kind of dancer he wants to be. “Don’t strive to be the dancer that is intimidating, strive to be the dancer like Chris Martin, the genuine one.” Clearly Ryan has accomplished that, aside from his height, nothing about him screams intimidating.
We mentioned earlier in the article that he started a YouTube channel. When quizzed on that decision, Ryan was very frank with his reply. “I feel like it’s a really good platform to put the dancers’ work out there. As much as we would like to say we want to be humble and not show off, but it’s more of showing what we can offer to the world, and showing how much effort we have put into it.”
Our parting question to Ryan was what genre is he interested in picking up. “Tap Dancing!” He laughed: “I actually think it’s because of La La Land but tap dancing seems dope. I am actually looking into taking classes soon!”
We wish you all the luck in that Ryan, as tap-dancing is expensive business. We wish fervently you will have a tap-dancing routine in your choreographies in the future!
To check out Ryan’s latest video:
You can check out more of his choreography here!
Follow him on Instagram as well at @ryanlimkj.
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