21 October 2009

Am I Too Old To Dance Ballet?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by Chelo · 6 comments
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Regrets always come in the end. Some regrets we can rectify and still act upon; others come just a trifle bit late. For instance, is there such a thing as being too late to dance ballet?

In truth, ballet is age-bound. We start training very young so that the bones (or cartilages) are still pliant and the classes are rigorous, especially for those who envision a professional career at the end of the road. In Russia, children aged 9 (or 8 if exceptionally gifted) enter the ballet academy and train everyday, along with academic classes. They graduate at 16 or 17 and embark on a professional dancing career in one of Russia's professional companies like the Kirov or Boshoi. It is a similar scenario at the Paris Opera. In most parts of the world, children start ballet training much younger, say 4 to 6, but with less frequency during the week, often interspersing the classes with other co-curricular activities to academic lessons. It is the serious student who pursues dance, later on, to a higher discipline until he or she reaches the professional stage.

As true as that might all be, it is never too late to dance ballet especially if we just want to do so for the pleasure of it, for the love of it, or for the passion of dance. There are schools that offer adult ballet and make less demands of their students than professional environments. For as long as our goals are realistic, we can enjoy the tip of the iceberg that ballet offers. Taking actual lessons also gives us a greater depth of appreciation when we watch performances.

Whether 6 or 36, the dance floor beckons. For those who make it to the stage, be it as fairy or queen or wili or court lady, the experience is breathtakingly beautiful.

19 October 2009

Dancing with the Pros

Monday, October 19, 2009 by Chelo · 4 comments
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I knew it would take a lot of work to bring my dancers to Meralco Theatre to rehearse with Philippine Ballet Theatre. We come all the way from International Christian Academy Sucat, Paranaque. Permits, car pools, schedules, etc all had to be arranged for it to work. It wasn't like we had to go there everyday. But, still, joining the show meant a lot of sacrifice - for me, for the dancers, for their parents.

Still and all, we braved it. I knew that it would take more than taking classes and the sparse performances a school affords, albeit in prestigious theatres, in order to polish even technically brilliant dancers. Something just clicks when a dancer is thrust into the arena of the pros and they actually "see" seasoned dancers take class, rehearse, sweat it out, perform, et al. It was all part of raising the bar.

The same is true with life. I realize that the quest for greatness necessitates that I constantly follow the footsteps of those greater than I or those who have trekked life ahead of me, and learn from them. It takes a genuine humility to do so perennially. The gems culled from what pans before me are lessons I can't pick up from school institutions, at least, not to the degree I will glean as when I immerse myself in the field.

Dancing with the pros.

My dancers are tired. So am I, hoarse voice for a week and all. But, we are the richer for having taken the challenge. I'd like to think that our dancing got better, our character more solid.

Thank you, Philippine Ballet Theatre!

Chelo B. Gemina, Artistic Director, Acts Manila

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