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Ballet Philippines Dancers On Passion & The Performing Arts

Two of the country’s top young dancers on dance, what makes a dancer, and what they’d be doing if they weren’t dancing

In 1969, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, along with Eddie Elejar, founded Ballet Philippines, then still known the CCP Dance Workshop Company. 50 years—and over 500 productions later—it is still thriving, and definitely bigger than ever. Its golden year celebrations—from a fashion gala designed by Michael Cinco, to productions of its crème de la  crème—are fitting for a dance company as prolific, as renowned, and as lauded as Alice Reyes’ brainchild.

Metro.Style spoke to two of the company’s dancers about their love for dance, what makes a dancer a dancer, and what they’d be doing if they weren’t dancing. 

Mark Anthony Balucay

Years dancing: 3

Years dancing with Ballet Philippines: 2

Starting out with Ballet Philippines as a scholar, Mark didn’t always see himself doing this. He started performing at a later age compared to most dancers—he was already 20 (even having dance classes with young kids!) when he decided that this was something he truly loved and wanted to do. But Mark is living proof that if you love something enough, nothing should stop you from pursuing it. Mark, who hails from Bacolod, found himself struggling early on. “At first, it’s really hard, because I was alone, and I didn’t know anyone here in Manila. I remember my first class here: pag pasok ko palang, iniisip ko na, Kaya ko ba ‘to?’ Kasi ang gagaling nila, sobra. For me, n’ung nagsimula ako dito, ‘yung heart ko, nandito talaga.”

Ito talaga ‘yung gusto kong mangyari sa buhay ko,” he says. 

And here he is, indeed: one production at a time. He’s beyond grateful to his teachers and co-dancers who continue to give him the opportunity to show audiences what he’s got. “After a year and a half, I was promoted to an apprentice.” When asked what he thinks makes a dancer, his answer is simple: “Kailangan gusto mo talaga ‘yung ginagawa mo,” he says. Mark also mentions a few important things: one needs to be hardworking and dedicated, to be able to handle criticism well, and to be able to work with all sorts of people. 

Mark can’t even imagine a life without dance. If he weren’t dancing, he wouldn’t know what or where he’d be. “Dance talaga,” he ends. 

Eira Joanne Tangalin

Years dancing: 13 

Years dancing with Ballet Philippines: 2

A product of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) in Laguna, Joanne has been dancing for 13 years. “It started because my parents liked to involve us in different art forms. I continued ballet and I got a scholarship in PHSA. After that, I pursued a different course in college but I realized that dance was what I really loved, so I came back,” she says.

She believes that dedication and hardwork are the foundation of a dancer. One must not give up. “What makes a dancer is the drive to keep moving forward and surpassing all the challenges that come your way. If you give up,” she says, “I don’t think you’re a dancer.”

Joanne, who’s hard her fair share of moments on the stage (her favorite ballet is Don Quixote but her favorite production is Alice Reyes’ Rama Hari), considers the bows and the curtain call as the best part of being a dancer. “When you perform onstage and you hear all the applause and the audience’s cheer, I think that’s the most fulfilling feeling,” she says. The hardest part for her? “The rehearsals.” 

We ask her what she would’ve been if she weren’t a dancer. She’d be in the arts, that’s for sure, but dance is her true love. 

“I came back, so,” she smiles. 


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