In Their Own Words: Joan Emery Sia on giving advice to younger dancers
In their own words, the artists of Ballet Manila share their thoughts and experiences on not merely surviving but flourishing in the very challenging world of dance. This series is a collection of personal anecdotes, as well as words of wisdom that can be heartwarming, funny or dramatic, but always inspiring regardless of what field one is pursuing.
When they dance something that I used to dance, they’ll come up to me and ask, “Ate Joan, can you help me with this? How did you overcome this?” To be honest, when I talk to them how I went through what they’re going through, I get emotional because I’ve been there. But sometimes I feel jealous because they’re so lucky to have started so young here in BM. That’s what I always tell them. They’re lucky to have started in a good place. I’m not saying where I started was bad but they got here sooner. They got here younger. They got here when they’re still building up. Because when I got here I really had to catch up. So I keep telling them they’re very lucky. I hope they appreciate where they are now.
I remember one of them asked, “Why is Sir Shaz (Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso) asking for more?” with their competition pieces. They felt that the piece was already polished. So I told them, more doesn’t mean more pirouettes or a longer balance. It means making yourself look interesting because everyone has their strengths. Everyone looks good. Everyone has something to offer. But not everyone looks interesting. Not everyone leaves an impression. So you have to find that special thing about you to set you apart. It may not be beautiful feet, or beautiful lines, or a higher jump, but just make yourself more interesting and memorable.
Top photo by Mark Sumaylo