BM School ‘ambassadors’ back from Beijing
By Anjie Blardony Ureta
Ballet Manila happily welcomed back its four student-delegates to the recently concluded 2016 Beijing Dance Performance Series for Dance Schools, an international dance festival aimed at promoting worldwide exchange and development of ballet education.
Easily the most traveled teenagers in the company this year, BM 2 artists Nicole Barroso, Joshua Enciso and Marinette Franco and BM trainee Alvin Dictado likewise represented the Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila at the Dance Open International Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, last April, and at the 2016 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong last August, where Nicole won her second consecutive silver medal in this prestigious competition.
Organized by the Bejing Dance Academy, this year’s festival attracted experts, performers and students from 15 dance troupes and academies from around the world. For their part, the BM students participated in a showcase where they performed original Filipino choreographies Arachnida by Agnes Locsin and Tara Let’s by Gerardo Francisco. They also attended master workshops and ballet seminars, watched different cultural and contemporary performances, and of course, enjoyed a tour of the Forbidden City.
“It is important to continue to expose our young dancers to different learning opportunities in order to grow,” says Ballet Manila’s artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, who set up the company school in 1997. “International dance festivals and workshops are really the best way to have this kind of exchange and collaborations. Not only are the teachers and students able to see other dancers and teachers at work, they are also able to gauge how much effort they still have to put in to meet international standards of performance.”
BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso personally took charge of training the four young dancers for all their international events. “Aside from constant guidance in daily classes and rehearsals, pep talks are also essential in preparing these kids,” he points out. Having mentored several generations of dancers in the company, Teacher Shaz believes that maintaining a good disposition is just as important as acquiring technique.
“These four dancers have improved tremendously not only in skill but also in attitude. They are committed, dedicated, have a wonderful mindset towards work, and are very grateful for projects that have been assigned to them. Lisa and I were confident that they would be able to handle the rigorous schedule of rehearsals for all the local and international festivals and competitions they will be joining, as well as the demands of our regular season – that’s why we chose them. In a way, they have become the ambassadors of the Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila.”
BM principal dancer and school faculty Gerardo Francisco served as the delegation head and official chaperone to the four youngsters. A veteran of numerous festivals around the world, he relates with pride how other teachers came to congratulate him after the performances. “They said our dancers were really good and strong for their age. Not only are they are at par with the other participants in terms of skills, they even stand out during performances because their interpretation is done with a lot of feelings. I think that’s what really amazed the audience.”
He adds that he was very pleased at the way the four students conducted themselves throughout the event. “They are professionals,” he says with unconcealed pride. “They maintained a good attitude during the entire event. When I told them to try different classes, they showed interest and willingness to participate. They are focused and they absorb everything new that they are learning. But they are also able to have fun and enjoy the experience.”
Having been with BM for 13 years and highly regarded as one of the role models for the younger set, Geri says that he is optimistic about the future of the company in the hands of its most promising students like Alvin, Joshua, Marinette and Nicole.
“These kids will continue the legacy of Ballet Manila. Attitude like theirs will set a good example to their generation.”