Stepping Out: Beijing in a hurry with Joshua Enciso
Always on the go, dancers often find themselves hopping from one city to another either to perform or to take a much-needed break. This series highlights the various places that Ballet Manila dancers have visited, along with some tips that travelers of all trades would appreciate.
It can be a challenge cramming a packed festival schedule and sightseeing into just a week. But the Ballet Manila team that participated in the 2016 Beijing Performance Series for Dance Schools in October 2016 did it quite seamlessly.
Tending to their official duties as festival participants was the priority, of course. But whatever free time they had was spent catching glimpses of this city that combines ancient culture, sumptuous cuisine, modern feel and dynamic shopping into one neat package.
Ballet Manila 2’s Joshua Enciso, a first-timer in Beijing, says even just walking down a street was already a treat. He and his companions – fellow dancers Nicole Barroso, Alvin Dictado and Marinette Franco and coach Gerardo Francisco – enjoyed exploring areas near their hotel, trying out city transportation and sampling local dishes.
Their Beijing experience wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Beijing’s most famous attraction – the Forbidden City. “Ang nakita namin du’n ay ‘yun pong mga lumang buildings na na-preserve nila, katulad nu’ng pahingahan ng emperor na napakalaki. Maraming tao po, maraming mga students na namamasyal (We saw a lot of old buildings that they were able to preserve, including an emperor’s resting place that was so huge. There were a lot of people, a lot of students walking around),” Joshua relates.
Joshua shares some of the moments, places and things that made the Beijing trip memorable to him and his group.
BEIJING IN A NUTSHELL:
Taking classes at the Beijing Dance Academy. BDA is the first professional dance school in China, founded in 1954. It is also said to be the world’s largest educational institution for dance, with 47 studios, 500 faculty members and more than 2,000 students. “Pinaka-enjoy ko po is ‘yung nag-take kami ng workshop classes – sword dance, Chinese improvisation, Kolben contemporary. Si Eldar Aliev, teacher namin sa Vaganova, kilala si Ma’am Lise (Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, BM artistic director) at si Ma’am Natasha (Raldugina, BM guest teacher).”
Watching a show and performing at the Dance Theater. “Katabi lang po ito ng BDA building. Excited po kami na mapanood ‘yung opening night ng festival at makapag-perform din diyan. The four of us danced Tara Let’s, then kami ni Nicole, nag-Arachnida. Nag-pose kami with members of the Australia Ballet after the show.”
Shopping for dance essentials. Even while on their break, dance was never far from their mind. Joshua and his friends were so happy to discover a street near the Dance Theater building that had several ballet stores. “Sa Sansha po, bumili kami nu’ng warmers – mga booties, jacket, pants. Bumili din po kami nu’ng pang-practice or rehearsals like mga ballet shirts and ballet shoes.”
Trying out public transportation. The group found it very convenient to get to different places via the subway, as Beijing has an efficient mass transport system. “We took pictures inside the train. Kasama po namin ‘yung volunteer na kamukha ni Ate Joan (Emery Sia, BM soloist). Ha ha.”
Visiting the Forbidden City. “Si Sir Gerardo po ang nag-plan na pumunta du’n and ang nagdala sa amin papunta po du’n is ‘yung volunteer namin na kasama. Ang dami pong iba-ibang buildings at saka mga gardens. Nag-jump shot kami. We saw this kiddo painting one of the buildings – super cool!”
Getting a taste of the local cuisine. It turned out to be a food trip, too, for the BM dancers who had quite a healthy appetite. Knowing that they will be able to burn off the calories with physical activity, they savored each and every meal. “Sa Xiaodou Noodles Restaurant (black and white pic) po kami madalas kumain kasi okay ang food at malapit sa hotel. Fresh noodles po at hindi instant noodles lang na nasa cup. More on beef and spicy ‘yung noodles nila. At kumain po kami sa iba-ibang resto ng dumplings. Super malaman po ‘yung loob and may iba-ibang dishes ng dumplings – may beef, shrimp, corn and pork, mushroom beef. ‘Yung dumplings po talaga ‘yung pinaka the best. Siguro mga-tig-15 na piraso kaming dumplings each. Ha ha. Ang sarap!”
Walking around aimlessly. “Ang sarap lang pong maglakad-lakad, kung anu-ano ‘yung mga nakikita namin. ‘Yan pong lumang building, Starbucks pala! ‘Yung isa naman, nadaanan lang namin. Sabi ni Sir Geri mag-picture kami du’n tapos mag-pose daw, so’ yan po .”