Saturday 8 October 2011

Filipinos Shine in the World Stage of Ballet

Candice & JM in "Diana and Acteon"

Candice Adea and Jean Marc (JM) Cordero have been consistently putting the Philippines in the international dance map for the last couple of years.  Both principal dancers of Ballet Philippines, resident dance company of the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, the onstage & offstage partners have been representing the country in prestigious international ballet competitions.  
Candice in "Don Quixote"
Most recently, they represented the country in the 8th Seoul International Dance Competition held from July 24-31, 2011.  The pair made it to the Finals, despite a raging fever during the elimination rounds for JM, and with a Bronze finish for Candice.  Last May,  the pair garnered Special Awards in the 1st Boston International Ballet Competition (BIBC).  They won the Lead Role in Russian Ballet Performance, an award given by the Artistic Director of Chelyabinsk State Academy Opera and Ballet Theater to a dancer/pair of the highest level.  They will be dancing the lead roles in the full length production of Don Quixote.  Candice also won the Maris Liepa Prize for Outstanding Artistry.  This special prize, presented by BIBC 2011 judge Andris Liepa, son of late ballet legend Maris Liepa, is an invitation to perform in Paris in 2012 along with stars from Bolshoi and Marjinsky Theatres (two of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world) presenting Fokine ballets as part of the Russian season in France.  Candice will be performing “Firebird.”
JM in "Don Quixote"
In June 2010, they competed with 119 other contestants at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, considered the Olympics of Dance.  Candice won the Silver Medal in the Senior Division, the first Filipina to ever win a medal in this competition.   Cordero was a semi-finalist, the farthest any Filipino danseur has placed here in Jackson.  It is worth mentioning that they were early favorites in the competition, receiving a standing ovation as early as the first round.
Their partnership started in 2007 for the New York Ballet Competition.  From then on, they have been essaying soloist and principal roles in the seasons of Ballet Philippines.  In 2009, Candice received the Gawad Buhay Award for the Most Outstanding Female Lead Dancer.
in Augustus Damian III's "Evacuation"
I first saw Candice when she was preparing for the ballet competition in Tokyo, Japan, as a student of the Makiling High School for the Arts.  This was for the 9th Asia Pacific Ballet Competition and at the young age of 13, finished as finalist.  I remember then feeling the thrill in the gut that you get when you see someone special, a person of real promise.  Then having worked with her in Ballet Philippines, I have witnessed her dedication, her love for dance and also her quirkiness, which are lovable and amusing, nevertheless.  JM, on the other hand, is a surprise since he was really just taking ballet to while away the time he was waiting for Candice, his girlfriend since their Makiling days.  To have achieved all these, despite starting training at the age of 18, is indeed quite a feat.

Candice in "Diana and Acteon"
Today, with all their international achievements and recognition, they have acquired an artistic maturity that is achieved through the rare combination of hard work, commitment and humility.  And with this, it is only inevitable that they attract more admiration, support and recognition.  Their achievements also prove that the Filipino talent, provided with the support of both the artistic and business community, is indeed world class.  In an interview after her Jackson competition feat, Candice was quoted as saying, “We Filipinos are not far behind from the rest of the world, especially if we put our heart and mind to it.  Everyone was good, but what set us apart was our soul in dancing.”  And what beautiful souls they have, I can attest.

* this article was written for Pinoy Living, launch edition

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