Video clip: stage tita files


I have been dancing with my now 6-year old niece, Berry, in our annual productions for both TEAM Dance Studio and Hampton Court Ballet, literally ever since she could walk. Of course that’s counting the time I brought her in with me on stage as one of Clara’s guests in a production of the Nutcracker that we did when she was just 1. That’s about 5 or so years of dancing alongside our little superstar, watching her from the wings, witnessing precious moments off stage and during rehearsals, guiding her and coaching her from the sides when she forgets her steps. I never thought I could enjoy it any other way, until I watched her dance in her first recital without me. Last Sunday June 14, at Hampton Court Ballet’s staging of Le Corsaire, I shared Berry’s recital experience not on stage but in the audience, as a first-time stage aunt.

As soon as Berry came on stage with her group to perform my all-time favorite pirates dance*, everything I knew about theatre audience etiquette went out the window. I whipped out my phone to take pictures and videos, called out “Go, Ber!” quite a number of times, and during the final bow cheered and clapped no end with all the moms and dads and grandparents and nannies as if we had just watched Lisa Macuja complete 32 fouettes.

Here’s one of the more tame videos I took last Sunday, with Berry dancing front and center. The little pro that she is, with a lifetime of dancing experience under her belt, Berry had the presence of mind to pick up someone’s headdress from the floor before they exited. Spoken like a true stage aunt, I know. Enjoy the video! –JJ

*Postscript: Incidentally, I had also just performed in Le Corsaire 2 years back with PBT, dancing the exact same part as Berry. Which made watching her dance it all the more amusing.

Market scene

Market scene


With partner Mark Pineda as Birbanto


More photos from the Berry dance archive!


With Berry’s cousin Sasha at Hampton Court Ballet’s Don Quixote 2013


Dancing the opening prayer at a family event 2012


The Jacintos and Berry at age 2, at production week of PBT’s Swan Lake 2011

Video clip: Jacinto’s works at IDD2015

Everyday and any day is a good day to dance. But when one day of the year is declared International Dance Day, it is almost a sin not to spend that day dancing with the rest of the world.

And dance we did, together with over 30 performing groups and dance schools from all over the Metro, at Ballet Manila-NCCA’s International Dance Day Festival last April 29 at the Aliw Theatre. The Company of Dance Artists, made up of dancers from TEAM and sister school Hampton Court Ballet (more on CODA here–, rendered two works by Eli Jacinto. The classic folk-ethnic Giri has been performed many times in the past in different venues including a Folk Dance Convention, and once also reconfigured for film, but always well-received. Pangilin, a dance of faith and inspired by Filipino lenten traditions practiced in Jacinto’s native hometown, is a work from 2006, an old choreography made new. Here is a clip of a section of Pangilin, danced by Jacqui Jacinto and sisters Frances and Irene Canto–

The BM-NCCA IDD Festival was a whole day affair, coinciding with other IDD events organised and participated in by other dance groups in the Philippines, and chiming in with worldwide celebrations. It was indeed a day to celebrate, but for us it was just another chance to dance.

Video courtesy of Frances Canto; photo courtesy of Nikki Lim

photo by Nikki Lim

Giri. Choreography by Eli Jacinto

An Easter open house: celebrating with friends and family

Our open house last Easter Sunday, April 5, was graced by friends and family, students old and new, and was the perfect chance to celebrate the formal opening of The Studio. The second floor, which houses the dance studio, was opened for the first time for public viewing, with the walls painted, mirrors and glass windows installed and polished, and the special wood floors finally in place. Two weeks back we had family over for dinner, and they caught the construction in its last stages of finishing–


Banzon preview, March 25, after Dad’s birthday dinner

It’s funny how in all the photos, Tito Baby, in the barong with his arms crossed over his chest, looks like he’s at a site inspection of some big development project, which he probably does a lot of for work. Peace, Tito Baby 🙂

And here is the studio now–

Photo from Erica Jacinto's Instagram @emjacinto

From Erica Jacinto’s Instagram @emjacinto

The Instagram post caption reads:

Congratulations @thejacquis!!! Sneak peak at studio #4 🙂 #havenforthearts #thestudio #teamdancestudio #riversideacademy #hamptoncourtballet

The well-wishes for that day were tremendous. But more so were the presence of the people behind this realised venture.

First to arrive were the TEAM seniors, our students who have been with us since they were in Baby Ballet. Now Attorney-at-Law Frances brought donuts as a “housewarming” gift which spruced up the already hearty snack table of homemade cookies and cupcakes.


Details, again c/o Erica

Pre-icing! Fresh baked cupcakes

Pre-icing! Fresh baked cupcakes

The TEAM seniors watched videos of our past recitals and shows, and saw themselves dancing as young giddy ballerinas, doing their first solo variations en pointe, discovering other dance forms such as jazz, modern and contemporary.

Currently watching: Teacher Joelle and Teacher Lucas' Corsaire pas de deux, at TEAM's 25th anniversary show

Currently watching: Teacher Joelle and Teacher Lucas’ Le Corsaire pas de deux, at TEAM’s 25th anniversary show

The girls could have spent the whole day going through the TEAM video archive but had their respective Easter family affairs to go to. But of course before leaving, a photoshoot at the brand new studio was in order (click on photos to view slideshow)–

This time with Ace, Frances and Irene’s younger brother who served as the day’s designated chaperone, driver and photographer–



With teacher Jacqui!

Also at the open house was the Berry family – Lucas, Erica and Berry. Here they are at the front gate, testing our new doorbell–

DIY signage with doorbell

Berry was a most gracious host, entertaining our new students who came by to see the finished studio. As a baby ballet veteran (Berry started ballet with her mom Erica as early as age 2, and is now 6!), she was very encouraging of our shy and young starters, showing them how to use the expanse of the studio space, and introducing them to the mirrors and barres. She also showed off our friendly dog Hugo, petting and hugging him, and assuring our little guests that they had no reason to be scared or wary. Berry has always felt at home here, in the studio, and in any studio for that matter, and it was apparent that she wanted others to feel the same.

Practing her balance pas de bourrees

Practicing her balance pas de bourrees

It was a full day of answering inquiries, touring the grounds, fitting ballet uniforms and chattering away about ballet and dance education. Just when things were winding down, we were happy to have another wave of guests come over – family! Bearing food, heart-warming gifts, and critical eyes. Every nook and cranny of the studio was inspected, perhaps even more thoroughly than our earlier guests. But the suggestions for improvement were very much welcome and the overwhelming support invaluable.


Tito Rene and kids test our new barres while Tito Greg documents


Shopping at our Tutu Girls Easter popup



Buttressed by well-wishes, trust and a positive response from our family, friends, and the community, we look forward and are excited to open for our first day of ballet classes this Saturday April 11. A big thank you to everyone, and see you at the studio! -JJ

Registration is still ongoing. For information on how to reach us– 

For a list of classes and upcoming workshops– 

Baby Ballet: turning your babies into ballerinas

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–


On the drawing board: posters

As fashion-forward as alternative spaces can be, the concept of The Studio artlessly lies in the housing of creative work. -JJ



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–

workshop ad trial 5 copy with wordpress

workshop ad trial 1b copy


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


workshop ad trial 3 copy

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.