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First Malaysian Knowledge Exchange to Ballet West

Five young Malaysian ballerinas have been selected to train alongside Natasha Watson, principal dancer, actress & Genee Medalist, in Ballet West UK, as part of their effort to place Malaysian dancers on the international Ballet map. Amongst the five, two of them are Perakeans, Jia Yi Seah from Teluk Intan and Cheok Lam Woo from Ipoh.

Ballet West opened its doors to its first international student exchange programme as part of its project to provide international exposure for Malaysian students.

The other Malaysian students who were successfully selected for the programme are Florence Chuah, Saraphina Lee-Boey and Shao Wen Chew.

The U.K. Ballet Student Exchange Programme is a collaboration effort between Direct Academia International (DAI) and Ballet West. The five-day workshop has exposed student to different genres of dance from Classical Ballet to Jazz.

Shannon Lee, Managing Director of DAI said that this student exchange programme, is one of DAI’s initiative in developing talents to put Malaysians on the international ballet map.

“In Malaysia, students rarely have the chance to perform with international soloists. Through this programme, students can experience the dance industry alongside professional dancers.”

Gillian Barton, Founder and Principal of Ballet West, a member of Royal Academy of Dance and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK (FHEA) added that the Malaysian students get to experience the same training as the professionals through this programme.

“Ballet West also tours internationally with sold-out performances in China and our world-class teachers have worked with names like George Balanchine and Margot Fonteyn. One of the key tutors for the students is emerging principal dancer Natasha Watson, 19. Her young age makes her a role model for all young talents.”

Natasha is a Genée International Ballet Competition medalist and the only dancer from the UK selected to join the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 2015.

Audrey Kwan Arts and Learning Director states that Malaysian girls have made great progress not only in dance technique but also show the ability to cope physically and mentally throughout their intensive dance training.

“The girls are very lucky to have Natasha as their teacher, her focus on sensations allows the girls to visualise how technically difficult repertoire can be performed in a graceful and effortless way.”

“As an ambassador for Ballet West we are proud to work with Ballet West to develop the next generation of Malaysian dancers to be part of the international dance scene,” said Mr Shannon Lee.

To make opportunities like this more accessible to Malaysian dancers, DAI and Ballet West has commenced plans to organise an international workshop in Malaysia. For those who wish to be part of this exciting journey to contact us at

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