After her CCP win, it’s back to the studio for Nicole Barroso

After her CCP win, it’s back to the studio for Nicole Barroso

Nicole Barroso performs the First Variation from Pas de Trois, Act 1, of Paquita. Photo by Kiko Cabuena/ CCP

By Susan A. De Guzman

Nicole Barroso has been having an exceptionally good year. In April, she went to St. Petersburg, Russia along with three other Ballet Manila talents for the Dance Open International Ballet Festival. In August, she competed in the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong and romped off with the silver medal in her category. In October, she participated in the Beijing Academy Performance Series for Dance Schools with the same team that went to Russia.

But 2016 just got even better for the young ballerina.

Self-assured on stage, but shy and sweetly awkward off it, Nicole was named as the first prize winner in the Junior Category of the CCP Ballet Competition on November 17.

She still can’t quite believe she garnered the top prize, especially after a slip during her classical variation that could only have meant a precious deduction from her score. In fact, when jury head Jae Keun Park announced her name, she just stood frozen among her fellow competitors, unsure if she had heard right. But emerge as the winner she did, and she can only express gratitude that things turned out as they did.

“Hindi ko po alam kung ako po ba talaga dahil nga po ang gagaling na po ng nauna sa akin. Third prize si Brian (Sevilla, her fellow Ballet Manila dancer), then si Ate Micha (Michaella Carreon). Kaya hindi na po ako nag-expect talaga dahil hindi ko rin po na-nail ang classical variation ko,” Nicole recalls.

As it was, she says she was already happy being given one of the special prizes – a scholarship grant in Korea and a sponsorship to compete in the Seoul International Ballet Competition, as announced also by Mr. Park, president of both the Korea Ballet Foundation and the Korea International Ballet Competition.

‘Yung mabigyan lang po ako ng scholarship napakasaya ko na po. Pero lalo pong masaya siyempre nu’ng nanalo kasi lahat ng hirap may kinalabasan. (I was already so happy to get the scholarship, but I was happier of course when I won because all the hard work paid off.)”

The fourteener admits that in the weeks leading to the competition, the stress of training was already getting the better of her. She would get frustrated when she couldn’t perfect a routine and end up in tears. “Nagbe-break down po (I was breaking down),” is how she describes her condition.

”Pero ‘yung competition week na po, kinausap ko po ‘yung mga nakakatanda sa akin, mula sa family ko po and sa BM family po. Humingi po ako ng advice, at sabi nila na kailangan ko po magtiwala sa sarili ko at… laban lang! (But during the competition week, I talked to my elders from my family and from my BM family. I asked them for advice and they told me, I just need to trust in myself and … to just fight!)

After her first-place finish at the CCP Ballet Competition, Nicole Barroso says that the best celebration is being able to perform onstage. Photo by Jimmy Villanueva

Giving herself that personal boost worked. While saying she felt nervous on competition night, what was running through her mind was the constant reminder that her mentors Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Osias Barroso (who is also her uncle) often tell the dancers. And that is, to not think about winning and to just showcase the training they have undergone for years.

In doing her Paquita variation, Nicole says she was lucky that the competitor before her was also doing the same thing. It helped her get into the mindset that she was dancing in a full-length Paquita and that it was just her turn to go onstage.

“Ang dali po makuha ng vibes (It was easier to feel the vibes),” she smiles. “Siyempre po may konting kaba pero napalitan po ng excitement and happiness kasi ang dami na po ng na-sakripisyo para dito kaya wag nang palampasin ang pagkakataon. (Of course, I felt a little nervous but it was replaced by excitement and happiness because a lot of sacrifices had already been made and I didn’t want to just let the moment pass).”

Asked how she is celebrating her win, Nicole at first replies: “Tapos na po ako mag-celebrate. ‘Yung pagpunta ko lang po ng stage at pagsayaw ay celebration na po. ‘Yung first prize ko po is bonus na lang po. (I’ve finished celebrating. Being able to perform on stage is enough celebration. The first prize was just a bonus).”

But prodded some more, the teenager in her finally relents. She says she might just buy new clothes or wait for a really nice Christmas celebration. “Pero hindi po siguro muna food dahil diet para hindi bumigat. Kailangan ko po magmukhang deserving dahil ayoko po na pag may makakita sa akin na mataba po ako, sabihan na, ‘Ay, ‘yan ba ‘yung nag-first prize sa CCP?’ (I probably won’t eat that much food yet because I should diet so I won’t gain weight. I need to look deserving because I wouldn’t want anyone to see me overweight and say, ‘Is she the one who won first place in CCP?’),” Nicole laughs.

But seriously, she says, the prize money from the competition – like in the previous ones – will be deposited into her savings account.

Next year, she is headed to London to avail of her scholarship at the Elmhurst School for Dance Summer School that she won at AGP. Since it will fall at the same time as the AGP in Hong Kong, she will be missing that competition but is looking forward to joining it again possibly in 2018. She doesn’t know yet when she and her BM colleagues will be going to Korea for their newly awarded dance scholarships from the CCP competition.

For now, the ballerina is just doing what she loves best. The day after her victory, she is back at the studio, putting in the hours so she can be the finest dancer she can be. After all, the motto of this young girl with the dimpled smile is an enthusiastic, “Work, work, work!”

Nicole (standing, second from left) celebrates her win with her uncle and Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso (standing, rightmost) and colleagues (standing, from left) Gerardo Francisco, Marinette Franco, (kneeling, from left) Joshua Enciso and Brian Sevilla. Photo by Giselle P. Kasilag

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