John Lam in William Forsythe's The Second Detail (Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Boston Ballet Principal John Lam Writes a Letter to His Teenage Self

John Lam is everything you would expect from a leading man—powerful leaps, endless turns, effortless partnering, and a chivalrous sensibility befitting of the princes and kings he portrays. As a child, Lam trained with Marin Ballet through the support of an inner-city dance program that recognized his natural talent. At age 15, he began training at Canada's National Ballet School, and after his graduation was offered a spot in Boston Ballet II. Lam joined the main company a year later, in 2004, and by 2014, he'd been made a principal. Lam has danced nearly every principal role in the company's repertory, both classical and contemporary. Be sure to follow Lam on Instagram to see when and where he'll be performing next! —Cadence Neenan


Lam at six years old (Margaret Harris, courtesy Lam)

Hi, John,

Always trust your heart while exploring what movement means to you. You will face many obstacles in your career, and overcome injuries, judgment, and backward thinking of what ballet should and could do, all for your insane love for your art. There will be incredible highs and lows that you'll bear alone, but remember what makes you so special in this art form.

Your uniqueness will allow you to stand out—embrace this difference. It will help you to educate the old and inspire the new. Let humility be your guide, and be forever grateful, as you are not the typical prince. Your discipline will serve as your armor, and your mindfulness will help you to be open to learning, relearning and digging deeper into the artist you're becoming.

Whenever you're in doubt, allow the music to take you into a world of ecstasy. You will face fierce competition, but don't shy away. Accept that you are in an incredibly high-caliber profession, and that you will always keep the bar high for yourself.

Your future husband will open your heart to another layer of who you are. Your craft will become richer in detail. You will have the gift of raising two boys to call your own, and will experience first-hand what it's like to be a father while dancing. Sustain what is most important to your DNA: integrity. Enjoy all aspects of your beautiful career. Dance!

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