Monday, June 12, 2017

Life update + some ballet inspiration 💭

Late last year my life was in disarray. I thought I had it all planned out. I quit my full-time job to pursue further studies. When the time came for me to finally actively search for work that would suit my newly acquired skills, I always seemed half-baked and wouldn't make the cut. The time I finally passed, the offer got stalled. I'm not sensitive towards rejection, but there came a point when I knew it simply was not God's will for me. I also lost important people in my life - death of a family member and the end of a relationship. I've never felt this lost. Sometimes, I felt like I was losing even my blog because whenever I tried to write, words won't come out. But I won't let that happen. Even when I feel like stopping, there is always a reason to go on.

Just the first half of the year has made me learn a lot of things. I've learned how silence can be powerful, too. I've learned that you must not depend on anyone else for your happiness. That joy comes from within you, and it's far greater than happiness which comes from external forces. I've also learned that sometimes you need to cut negative and toxic people out of your life for good, not because you're a mean person but because you deserve peace. Unexpectedly, I went back to my former workplace. This was definitely not part of the plans I had for myself, but sometimes life is funny. The only thing to do now is to bloom where I am planted. 🌸 I'm slowly picking myself up and getting back on track. But I still need your prayers. So please please pray for me! 🙏 That I may have the strength to get through this year. I may seem tough, but really, I'm not. I was just born with a resting bitch face. LOL 😜

I also realized that if I want to feel happier, I must... EXERCISE! 😅 Last month, I was given a very welcome break - a chance to try out Ballet Manila's Adult Summer Program. Ballet Manila is the country’s premier classical dance company, and they have schools in Pasay and Fisher Mall in Quezon City.

Due to my work schedule, I go home late everyday so I wasn't able to attend the weekday sessions. I was able to have a glimpse of Floor Barre though, which was a mix of fitness and classical ballet for adults - no previous ballet training required.

The class was under Teacher Victoria, who was both strict and motivating at the same time.

I tried the class when the Adult Summer Program was about to end, so my classmates were way up in terms of skill and knowledge. My only regrets was not being able to start the classes in April due to conflict with my work schedule. It's been so long since I really moved around and exercised, so I welcome this good kind of pain. The experience was fun and it definitely lifted my mood. Endorphins at work!

Ballet and dance were help me cope and adjust - to be more like my old happy self again. On a greater scale, art changes lives. Let me introduce you to two living proofs: Jamil Montibon and Jessa Balote.

Graceful, strong, and well-traveled. One quick look at Jamil (22) and Jessa (19) will never give you any clue that the two dancers grew up in the slums of Tondo and used to scavenge for a living. As scholars of the country’s premier classical dance company, Ballet Manila, both Jamil and Jessa have been to some of the most prestigious theaters around the world, performing in front of world leaders and society’s elite.

But their journey to success has not been easy. In fact, it was—and still is—riddled with trials. As both continue to dance their way out of poverty, one thing they note that Ballet Manila has provided them with the ability to dream.

“Ballet Manila has helped me aspire for more,” shares Montibon. “Before I entered the company, I was resigned to the fact that I will probably spend the rest of my life on the streets, collecting trash. Ballet Manila has made me realize that I have something to offer to the world. Now, my dream is to become a soloist and travel to more places. I really want to see The Kremlin Ballet Theatre with my own eyes!”

Both Jamil and Jessa are proud products of The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila—an institution that will celebrate 20 years of classical dancing education this month with a recital titled ‘Just Dance 20’.

To date, dancing has taken the two from the streets of Tondo to those of Hong Kong, South Korea, and London. Ballet Manila ensures that their scholars always have a fruitful experience whenever they travel. The company allots time for them to enjoy and immerse themselves in the local culture of the places they visit.

Both Jessa and Jamil were handpicked by Ballet Manila’s Artistic Director and CEO, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, to become part of the company’s Project Ballet Futures program. According to Elizalde, it was their distinct physical attributes that made her decide to include the two in the program.

“One attribute of Jessa that allowed her to stand out among those who auditioned before is her ability to turn out her legs,” says the famous Prima Ballerina. “Meaning, her ability to rotate her legs 90 degrees to the right and left. Also, she had really clean lines."

"Meanwhile, the strength of Jamil’s legs really impressed me. We asked him to jump on the very first day of the auditions, and he just soared."

Since being accepted in the company, both dancers have undergone classical dance training based on the famous Vaganova style of dancing. Considered by experts and dance enthusiasts as the best in the world, the Vaganova technique served as the foundation of Elizalde’s long and fruitful career—allowing her to reach her dreams of becoming a famous prima ballerina and traveling to places she never thought she’d see in her lifetime.

“Ballet has given me so much and I know that it can give the same to others. The key is really to just keep pushing yourself and to constantly open yourself to learning—not just from your teachers, but from your peers as well. I know for a fact that the Philippines has so much hidden talent waiting to be discovered, and some of those, like Jessa and Jamil, are often hidden away from the spotlight. And that’s why Ballet Manila continues to run Project Ballet Futures.”

Ballet Manila’s Project Ballet Futures is a scholarship program that scouts for potential ballerinas and danseurs in some of the most deprived neighborhoods all over the country. Once accepted, all scholars get free meals, transportation, supplements, dancing gear, and allowance in addition to the full dance scholarship. The program recently held another round of auditions where it accepted a total of 17 new scholars.

“The beauty of dancing is not limited to performances. It transforms people for the better, and that’s one message we want to send out to everyone. Dancing—especially ballet—offers so much more than superficial beauty. It instills discipline and helps uplift spirits,” ends Elizalde.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Helen. <3

    Grabe, I didn't know all these things were happening, and that's just proof of how strong you are! You always seem happy when I see you. If you need anything I'm just a message away! Love you!

    1. I've been told that I always seemed to have high energy especially when I talk. (Eh happy ako pag nakikita ka. Haha!) Thanks, Krissy! I appreciate it. Love you too! :)

    2. Awwwwww happy rin ako when I see you!!!! <3


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