This week we locked-in the dates for our first set of arts&lifestyle workshops, one of which was accomplished by a chance run-in with friends Andrei and Sheina of HOCUS.
April is now officially screen print month for The Studio, thanks to an impromptu meeting with this no-nonsense screen print and design team in their headquarters in Makati. I came to see Hocus’ Screen Printed Textiles exhibition, running until today (February 27) at the CraftMNL shop, and was lucky to catch the Hocus duo there to finalise and formalise workshop talks that I had initiated two weeks prior. And just like that, we are on. Hooray for the easygoing pair! Final details and calls to reserve a slot in our upcoming screen print workshop this April c/o HOCUS to be posted soon (details out now! sign up here– https://visitthestudio.wordpress.com/sign-up-screenprint-workshop/ ). And stay tuned as well to find out what’s in the pipeline for May!
Go catch the last day of the exhibit today, and you might just as well get more than what you came for, too 🙂
Andrei and I were classmates in grade school through to high school. We saw each other again at a bazaar in Cuenca (Ayala Alabang) where he and Sheina did a screen print demo. This was my first introduction to HOCUS and I have been a fan ever since. Visit the Hocus Facebook page to know more about what they do– https://www.facebook.com/hocusmanila
Sheina and Andrei of HOCUS, at a screen print demo
It is the most natural thing in the world for little girls to be donning tights and leotards, to have their hair up in a bun, do a twirl and wave their pink glittered wands to strike the very advanced arabesque with their back leg raised as high as they can go. This is why moms, no sooner than their daughters learn to walk, call us at any given day and time of the year to ask to enroll their little aspiring ballerinas in ballet class.
Our age requirement in the past was a strict 5, with the exception of some very bright 4 year olds who answered to the standard ‘what’s your name’ and ‘do you want to dance ballet’ questions and joined the curtsy line without their moms or yayas in tow. Even then, we felt our 4 year olds experienced early fatigue and developed a complex about having to be “perfect” to deserve admission. I myself a very young starter at 2, who had the luxury of special attention and partial treatment from my ballet teacher father, got tired of ballet as early as age 13 and went through that phase of disparaging what I was turning into.
But times have changed and we’ve learned through the years. For one, it seems the world is just churning out super babies – taller, healthier, smarter, more adaptable, not to mention tech savvy. And on our part, we’ve come to realise and accept that the value of dance education is in the learning and not the becoming.
For every baby ballet class of 15, only a handful stay on after summer to join our recital at the end of the year. For every 100 students who have “walked like a princess” across our wooden floors balancing toy tiaras on their heads, only one had it in their destiny to become a professional dancer. The rest of the 99 became doctors, bankers and lawyers, business owners, musicians or artists in another field, moms (and dads), it’s been hard to keep track where everyone has gone really. On random occasions, their grownup selves find a way to let us know that they have but fond memories of their time in the studio. Our senior star student Nina, who recently graduated magna cum laude from DLSU, wrote in her proposed graduation speech how much ballet was a big part of her academic success. Probably not the more popular set of words to inspire a big batch of kids entering the work force, Nina lost the chance to address her graduating class to another’s speech, but we at the studio already saw it as a win that Nina found a remarkable sense of accomplishment and value in dancing, without really being a dancer.
We set our Baby Ballet program strategically in summer to put our young starters together in a comfortable batch of beginners. As mentioned earlier, not a lot of them stay, which is our intention really to have them come back the next summers until they are ready to enter ballet proper. Sadly, some don’t even stay the whole 2 months of summer. As excited as parents are to enroll their babies, dress them up, take photos, the excitement only lasts a month – just about the right amount of time to do an impressive social media run and claim the right to say that their child indeed took ballet lessons.
Such is the reality. All I have control over is what we do in the studio, and the only thing that I can do is teach the kids to dance. In my class, more than doing splits on the floor and learning technical steps prematurely, a child learns to relate to and dance with a group, figure out a combination of simple steps without merely shadowing my movements, and tell a story to an audience through dance. Babies as they are at home, they are not treated as babies in the studio. In my class, there is no carrying, no baby talk, no coaxing. When a child loses her place on the dance floor, she is not taken by the arm and put in her place. She is given a chance to find her own way. I believe that kids are capable of so much more than some parents or especially yayas allow. You just have to connect with each child, speak to them and not over them, build relationships, and at the same time keep a class structure intact. And this is the formula that has worked for our school for years.
We are not in the business of producing dancers. At least such is not the focus of our Baby Ballet program. I see my purpose in little victories that happen everyday in the studio – weaning children with separation anxiety, having water breaks without anyone running to their yayas to open their water bottles, watching these little girls help each other zip up their own costumes during rehearsals. One of my favorite recent success stories is that of a little girl who used to spin around and around until she got dizzy and would run around the room endlessly that I had to catch and hold her and keep her from moving lest she drop to the floor from exhaustion. She has since moved on to ballet proper, has danced wonderfully in 2 recitals, and is now able to focus and harness her energy and channel it to her dancing.
Summer is just around the corner and we brace ourselves yet again for another wave of baby ballerinas to flock to the studio. New faces, a new mix of different personalities clashing on the first day. New relationships to build and personalised programs to create. So far it seems, this never gets old. -JJ
The author, or Teacher Jacqui as she is called in the studio, has been a dancer all her life but only discovered her knack for teaching kids in 2001 when she proposed to open a baby ballet class as a summer program for TEAM Dance Studio. Teacher Jacqui was first a university lecturer, teaching International Relations subjects to undergraduate classes as big as 40 students per class. After 8 years in the academe, she left and gradually took on more regular classes and more teaching hours at TEAM, and last year was promoted to Principal Teacher. This summer, she opens more baby ballet classes and children’s ballet classes at The Studio (located in her home studio in Pilar Village, Las Pinas). *For a full list of dance classes click here– https://visitthestudio.wordpress.com/pick-a-class/
Our poster campaign is underway, and while we have been steering clear of premature delineation to allow The Studio to naturally progress into what it can be, we find ourselves needing a personality to communicate. And so in this first instance, we feature the studio itself, the physical structure, the four walls and the open space and what happens when people occupy this space.
The challenge in going this route is that our infrastructure is unfinished, which leaves us with having to borrow images taken mostly at TEAM, the main studio from which this more personal space has branched out. Here are some of the material we have on the drawing board–
The Studio may be spanking brand new when it opens its doors in April, but it is not starting from scratch. It is firmly rooted in over 30 years of dance education and production, and is a collection of the wealth of experiences lived by the artists and the family that make up “the TEAM”. View the TEAM website at www.teamdancestudio.co
This draft would have been a beautiful option, however, it is set in the FEU dance studio, and may cause confusion if we were to decide to use it. Still it is worthwhile sharing here as this image was taken during the filming of Ang Sayaw Ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa in 2011, for which TEAM Artistic Director Eli Jacinto did the choreography and TEAM’s performing group did the major dance sequences. The shot is a picture-perfect depiction of what we do in the studio, the breadth of the open space that houses an energy and creative atmosphere that begets creative work, albeit a space not our own.
You’re only one ballet class away from a good mood.
It is week 2 and we are on-edge with hitches on the on-going construction sprouting left and right. I decide to get away from the stress for a day by taking a trip to my home away from home, the PBT studio.
The vibe is spirited in that old familiar studio housed at the Meralco Theatre basement, with the company currently composed of young and energetic dancers all hooked on dance. Warm-up talk revolved around the recent Prix de Lausanne, humourously interjected with some biking anecdotes to break the die-hard balletomania atmosphere of their first work day of the week. A fun, muscle and memory jogging ballet class ensued c/o PBT’s well-loved ballet master, Anatoly, whom everyone fondly calls “Papa”. Stayed a while after class to watch rehearsals for their next show before merrily heading back home, refreshed and feeling 5 pounds lighter. -JJ
Kim’s back sore from the weekend’s Swan Lake rehearsal
The author has been training and dancing with the Philippine Ballet Theatre since her younger ballet years as a highschool student in the 1990s. She is currently guest artist, dancing in the company’s season productions at the CCP, whenever time permits.
It’s been a long time coming. It was maybe about 5 years ago when I was first presented with the idea of having a studio, in a loft apartment no less with high ceilings, big windows, and a small space left for where I was also going to be retiring to at night. Some would say I wanted a studio of my own further back as a clueless child, sitting on the barre watching rehearsals, telling dad, “I want to do what you do. I want to be Director.” Of course I grew up, did other things, went far and wide. And now I’ve come full circle.
The loft may be off the table, but the concept is the one running the show. This clip stars the loft that is no longer, Joe Gideon and daughter Michelle who remind me a lot of my dad and sister, leggy Ann Reinking who I shall claim is me, and the happy kind of dancing I love and am hoping to do more of in the new studio. -JJ
Today marks the beginning of the road to The Studio, officially resuming construction of our Project2014 building with a “groundbreaking” for the second floor. First order of business was to tear down the posts that were built by our previous contractor and replace them with thicker, stronger ones to hold up the slab ceiling. Here’s a photo of the makeshift wooden stairs (ladder yan eh!) to the second floor, some of the building materials we try our best to keep tidy and in order, and our wilting anahaw displaced and suffocated by all the airborne cement.
Hugo thinks he’s stepping in as new foreman. Foredog? That dog’s just sunbathing or asleep most of the time. Not the first to be sleeping on the job for sure 🙂
After a stressful yet necessary false start, months of uncertainty, hitting roadblocks and detours every step of the way, we are finally here. And we have but eight carefully calculated weeks to pull through. Eight weeks for the builders to finish, eight weeks for me to prepare The Studio for the summer. Eight weeks until the real work, and the rest of my life, begins.