Q&A with John Lam, Principal Dancer and Dad

John Lam and sons in Studio 7 by Kenneth Edwards

Principal Dancer John Lam with his sons in Studio 7

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

“I am committed to being the best dad I can be, and also just as committed to being the best artist I can be.”

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

We spoke with Principal Dancer John Lam on what it is like to balance his life as a professional dancer and father of two, how being a dad has made him a better dancer, and how he plans to celebrate Father’s Day.

What does being a dad mean to you?
To me, being a dad means being nurturing, empowering, learning, loving, disciplinary, cultured, and respectful. It means always creating a safe environment for my sons to thrive in whatever they choose to do.

How do you balance your busy life as a dancer (performances, rehearsals, guesting) and the time you spend with your family?
Juggling everything is the major challenge I take on every day to make time for family, yet also make time for myself as a dancer. Thankfully, I married a wonderful and supportive husband who has always been there and understands when I can't do pick up or have to stay late in rehearsals. We are still learning, but we do our best every day to juggle it all and fit everything in.

How has being a dad made you a better dancer?
I believe having children forces you to see the world differently whether you like it or not. I am able to see all the beautiful aspects of having a child and still dancing professionally. Having children definitely challenges my mind and body when I go into work. For example, one hour before doing a ballet run through, I could have been dealing with either one of my sons being sick and needing me, or forgetting a show-and-tell toy for my eldest and driving back home to get it so that he is not discouraged.

I have gained perspective on the resilience I have and the love I have for dancing. I am committed to be the best dad I can be, and am still committed to be the best artist I can be. There are days that I feel very tired during dancing hours, but visualizing my kids’ smiles and laughs get me through the day. I want my kids to be proud of their dad for not giving up when times are rough.

How has being a dancer made you a better dad?
The discipline we learn as dancers when we are little is forever drilled into us as human beings. With having this type of discipline, it has given me direction to help my kids stick things out even if it's not necessarily something they want to do. For example, eating all of your vegetables so you can be as strong as Superman.

What is the best thing about being a dad?
The best thing about being a dad is to be able to say that you're a dad and have the greatest responsibility to your kids. To come home to two energized boys that will forever push your buttons, but at the same time, give you unlimited kisses and giggles. Being a dad is a privilege not to be taken lightly. I am grateful that I am a dad and I continue to be the best dad I can be to my sons.

John Lam with his sons in Studio 7, photo by Kenneth Edwards

Photo credit: Kenneth Edwards

Do your kids love to dance too? Do you dance together?
The boys love to dance. We will just put music on and we will all jam together. It's so freeing and fun. I love seeing their interpretations.

What is one of the most memorable moments you’ve had as a dad?
Seeing and hearing my son speak fluently in Chinese in his pre-school, then switching up to speak Vietnamese to my mother, and English to his daddies.

What advice would you give to new dads?
Be who you are. Never try to be anyone else. The best dad is you. Only you have that innate feeling for your kids. Love, enjoy, cry, be upset, but it will all be okay.

What are your plans for Father’s Day?
We will spend it in Vermont where the kids can run around and see the cows, horses, sheep, chicken, and birds.

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director