BELARUSIAN model and dancer Alesia Bylina enjoys Malaysia’s laidback culture and warm weather so much that she has been here for the past seven years.
“Malaysia has taught me to take things positively and be more easy-going,” she said.
“The people are nice and the general atmosphere relaxed, unlike my home country where everyone is busy and where things are more strict.”
Bylina hails from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, a landlocked country in eastern Europe that gained independence from the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago.
“I enjoy holidaying at the beaches here, because we do not have any back home,” she said.
“I love the water and sand, and have been to the beaches in Redang, Perhentian, Mabul, Mataking, Penang and Langkawi.”
Bylina said she picked up English through communicating with Malaysians, and can eat almost everything except spicy dishes.
“I love Chinese seafood. My favourite dishes are Steamed Ginger Fish and Salted Egg Crabs.
“However, I do cook Belarusian cuisine when I am at home, one of which is draniki — a kind of potato pancake,” she said.
Bylina only took up modelling in Malaysia, after having worked as a dance teacher, ballet dancer and choreographer in Belarus.
Her tall and slim 176cm-frame can be attributed to a 10-year stint in rhythmic gymnastics, which she started at age six.
“I represented my country in various competitions, and was even crowned Belarus champion. I left gymnastics for dance when my instructor left and my choreographer invited me to join her dance troupe,” Bylina said.
“I enjoy dancing as it allows me to express myself in a freeform and flexible manner, unlike gymnastics that is more rigid and has a lot more rules.”
She went on to pursue a diploma course in variety dance, choreography and ballet at the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts.
“It was a gruelling five years. We had nine hours of classes daily except Sundays. I had to teach and perform as well, as that was part of the coursework,” said Bylina.
“I learnt dances like ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, cultural and Moulin Rouge-style, which was very popular in Belarus.”
Upon graduating, Bylina said she took up a three-month dance contract in Japan, followed by a one-year performing contract in Malaysia.
“I decided to extend my stay here after finishing my contract, and turned to modelling full-time and dancing part-time,” she said.
“It was a natural transition as modelling was just another way to perform and present myself to the public. It was interesting to try something new, and I was already very comfortable being on stage.”
Bylina said she has used her training to her advantage, by using gymnastics poses during photoshoots or dancing along when required during fashion shows.
“I recently completed a one-month dance show in Penang,” she said.
“Prior to that, I was cast in an Indian horror and comedy movie entitled I Know What You Did Last Deepavali. I was the only Caucasian cast member and loved the entire shooting experience,” she said.
For now, Bylina is hopeful of extending her stay in Malaysia with more work opportunities and to continue doing what she enjoys.