Just like other sports and physical activities, ballet was among the casualties when Covid-19 invaded the world and brought everything to a standstill.
Unlike dancesport and the more liberal breakdancing which have made their way into the sporting stage like the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympics, ballet is in a class of its own.
Female dancers dominate the ballet population but some world-class male athletes have used ballet as an essential cross-training for their main sport.
Former world boxing Evander Holyfield and the legendary bodybuilding champion and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger took ballet lessons to help them in their sport. And so did a number of professional football players, Olympic figure skaters, gymnasts, and divers.
For young athletes, practicing ballet helps them improve their flexibility, body awareness, agility, and coordination. Ballet also helps improve lateral movement, footwork, as well as leg and core strength.
For the true-blue lover of the art, ballet has a life of its own.
For years, the Dance Theater Arts Philippines (DTAP) has been training young ballet dancers, also known as ballerinas, at their Makati studio and just like other establishments that require face-to-face activity, it has to close shop when Covid-19 pandemic struck.
But after more than a year of zero activity, the studio made a comeback via the virtual world.
“Of all the things that the pandemic has taken away from us, one thing’s for sure—it can’t take away the dreams of aspiring little ballerinas,” said DTAP head guru Pamela Ortiz-Bondoc, who is addressed by her students as Teacher Pam.
Teacher Pam said the school’s pivot to teaching ballet classes virtually made way for more learning opportunities at home than ever before.
She said the school continues to push its goal to uplift the children’s awareness of classical ballet. True enough, the virtual setup has now been embraced by their students from as young as four years old to the semi-professionally ranked dancers.
Teacher Pam shared how this set-up is still based on their holistic teaching style, aiming “to give children physical activity even in the comfort of their homes, give the children a sense of normalcy and routine, making them feel confident and have high self-esteem, teach them to be adaptable and versatile to change, make them feel that they belong and connected with people around them, and lastly, give them a sense of joy through dance”.
Ultimately, DTAP wants to groom them into young artists worthy of recognition locally and internationally.
In fact, ten DTAP students recently won in the renowned Hong Kong Challenge Cup Dance Competition (HKCCDC). These students are testaments that even through virtual ballet classes, DTAP was able to help them flourish into well-rounded, award-winning performers.
Meet these little achievers who shared how ballet dancing helped them cope throughout the challenges of the pandemic:
“Ballet helps me be physically active even if I’m only staying home,“ said Anya Katrin Barredo.
Chloe Zi Qian Chen also claimed that ballet let her progress into a “stronger and more independent” girl.
For Nica Jane Delos Reyes, it was ballet that helped her “not get bored during the pandemic because it allowed [me] to stay in touch with friends.”
It was also amazing how these girls are staying positive despite the challenges brought about by virtual classes.
When asked if they feel that the lockdown affected their dreams negatively:
“No, because we can do Zoom classes and I have space to do ballet. My mom removed our couch and placed it in the bedroom”, shared Patricia Isabelle Alvarez, who mentioned how her mom strongly supports her passion.
Heiress Soluna Arcamo agreed with Patricia, saying that she “has been participating in more competitions now than before because we only have to submit videos”.
The lockdown allowed Bianca Denise Magbatoc to improve on her craft, sharing that “this is a quiet time when you can concentrate more and focus yourself on your dance unlike before”.
Gratitude fills the heart of little Josephine Manzano. “Thanks to teacher Pam, teacher Mark and my other teachers, I was able to join (online) competitions and won in most of them.”
It’s amazing how they have found the silver lining through it all—carrying the hope that someday, more kids like them will hit the dance floor again.
During this time, Ella Klaire Dimapilis encourages little girls to “find the joy and love in what you do and dedicate to God everything that you do and feel.”
Tiffany Ong also hopes that just like her, little girls should “never give up even when it’s very difficult because God always makes a way when there seems to be no way.”
“They’re right. Don’t let anything stop your child from achieving her dreams. Despite the seemingly never-ending lockdowns, your child can start her dance journey in the comfort of your home and be a world-class ballerina, too—you just have to help her make it happen,” added Teacher Pam, who also said some of her students have ventured into martial arts and excelled.
DTAP can be contacted through its FB page: Dance Theatre Arts and IG account: @dancetheatreartsph or call/send an SMS via WhatsApp or Viber at 09171260888.
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