THE magic of ballet will always be a part of my happy childhood memories.
My mom coaxed me into taking ballet class every Saturday, from kinder to grade 3. We even watched Lisa Macuja in Swan Lake and Giselle at the Metropolitan Theater to inspire me. It did for a little while, but by the end of 3rd grade, I grew a head taller than everyone and I realized I liked being with my friends in class more than the craft itself.
In retrospect, I am thankful Mom started me on this dance journey early, because I may not have been the best dancer in class, but I learned so many things through this art that have stayed with me to this day. These lessons are: the discipline to practice, resilience to keep trying, camaraderie with co-participants, elements of good posture, and importance of self-esteem… I could go on and on.
When I became a mom, I naturally enrolled my only daughter in ballet at Stand for a year and half with Sir Eugene. She was excited in the beginning, I guess it is every little girl’s dream to wear a cute tutu at some point. But the novelty wore off fast and I could sense her heart was not in it.
I finally allowed her to stop, when she finished the summer program. I knew by then she had learned the most important lesson I wanted her to take home: once you’ve committed, even if you don’t feel like it anymore, you still have to show up and finish it. Never give up!
All of my daughter’s new leotards and tights (I hoarded cause of poor stocks in CDO back then) were passed onto my friend's daughter who was just starting ballet at that time. I clearly made the right choice because Alessandra Gianina Montalvan-Castrillo, who started with baby ballet, is still dancing until this very day. In fact, at nine years old, she is the youngest dancer of Stand who is on pointes/ toe shoes. That is no mean feet, er rather, feat (pun intended)!
Her mom, Mia, narrates that Alyssa got into the craft at three years old because she saw the recital of her older sister, Raya, who then took Stand’s hip-hop summer class. While watching the program, the then toddler asked why she was not included in the group that performed baby ballet.
That June, her mom quickly enrolled her into Baby Ballet.
“Every year, teacher Faith promoted her to a different level. Ako pa ang nagtatanong kay (I asked the) teacher, are you sure na kaya na niya ang (she’s capable of moving to the) next level? She was the youngest in Baby Ballet, Primary, and now, she is still the youngest in Ballet 1!”
Mama Mia goes all out in supporting her daughter’s passion.
“I can really see she loves it because even if she’s setting the table, she’d dance and twirl around while humming.” This caring mom is the faithful driver of Alyssa to all her practices, fittings, and rehearsals.
Her third daughter’s enthusiasm is so contagious that the youngest child, Cerise, was also motivated into doing Baby Ballet two years ago. As for Raya, the one who inadvertently started the dance craze, she still takes Hip-Hop and Contemporary Dance when her schedule permits.
“Ballet has helped Alyssa in so many ways,” Mia shares further.
“She is disciplined at such a young age. Can you believe na (that) since Grade 1, I hardly tutored her? She would study on her own na talaga (really). I attribute that to ballet. I have 4 girls so I can honestly say I saw how it influenced her.”
This mom is also the school’s Parents Teachers Association president for the past 2 years, and she ads her observations that: “I think it is important to mention that majority of the ballerinas in Stand do not only do well in music and arts. A great number of them are honor students. They’re well-rounded! I really believe that it has a lot to do with our Artistic Director, Ms. Faith Javellana. She disciplines them, builds their character and confidence, and shows them the importance of perseverance.”
The kids can really feel the love and concern of teacher Faith. She is akin to a second mother to them. In fact, most of the dance parents do not see Stand as just a school. Stand is one big happy family!
I told her I know dance can be pretty expensive. The gas money, the costumes, the lessons, these all pile up. Mia agrees, but she also notes that, “I think of it as paying for the opportunity. In dance, she forms strong friendships, learns to get-along with others, imbibes discipline and self-confidence, and most of all, trains hard to do her best. That is a small price to pay for all of those. Iba talaga (It’s different)!”
It is amazing how a simple summer program helped such a young child find her passion so early in life. That is a gift! Not many are accorded that same privilege. Now more than ever, I firmly believe that parents should strongly encourage their children to try new endeavors. They may not end up as professional dancers, they may even only engage in it for one summer. But the experience and confidence gained from doing any summer program is something that once inculcated stays with the person forever.
Now is the best time to start! Give young children a chance to dance. Introduce them early to learn discipline and to harness self-esteem that will help mold their character.
Stand’s 9th Summer Dance camp starts on April 5 to May 17, with the recital on May 20 at Rodelsa Hall. For more information on their summer schedule, please call 0925-500-0063 or check their Facebook page:
Standcdo for class schedules.
Stand is located in Golden Shower Drive, Tomas Saco St., Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro.
Dance before the music is over. Live before life is over. Let’s dance!