On dancing for a year…and counting

Malapit na mag one year.( It’s been almost a year.)

I started out fat and unsure, not knowing what would happen.

Dancing had once been a big part of my life, but it wasn’t anymore. A lot of things had happened and I was different. I was not even sure how I felt about dancing.

The journey back began as exercise, wanting to lose weight. It was street dance, something I knew I didn’t like growing up. I wasn’t cool and I didn’t have swag. I used to make my sister change the song if she was listening to Nelly ,etc.. That was that….so basically, I didn’t expect much from doing it.

The more I did it though, the love that I once had for ballet gradually came back, even if I was dancing something unfamiliar, awkward, and totally outside my comfort zone.

I started challenging myself to execute the choreography properly, to memorize quickly, and to push myself to go out of my comfort zone.

Of course, there were the classmates who encouraged me; the teachers who took pains to teach me the steps; and the awesome pieces that made me want to be better just so I could execute them right.

You might be wondering why I chose to learn street dance if I hated it so much growing up. The answer is also a mystery to me. One thing is certain though, I am happy I did it.

While not all us of are meant to be professional dancers, I believe that dancing is for everyone. The reason for it coming to our lives may vary—it may be a form of exercise, a creative outlet, an escape, or it may also be a chosen career. No matter what the reason is though, dance has a trigger that enables us to be better and do better.

I know that I am far from being the perfect dancer. Dance, on the other hand, has been the perfect savior. It has saved me for more times than I can count as child and eventually, as a teenager. It still does up to now. For that, I will be forever grateful that I learned how to dance.

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My dance journey in videos:

Month One

  1. In this video ( I think it was my third class), it looked like I didn’t now if I was dancing ballet, contemporary, or urban. I was so lost. I had to start somewhere though.

Teacher: GJ Romano

Week 1. JULY 2017

A post shared by Angelica Tordesillas (@jelonstage) on

2. 1st video shows that I basically didn’t move. hehehehe.

Teacher: Ritz of Gforce

3….and the cringe-worthy classes continued.

Stylettos Company Class

3rd Week. ūüôā AUGUST 2017

A post shared by Angelica Tordesillas (@jelonstage) on

4 months after

4. I could follow the steps at times, but that was it, I just followed it.
Looking back, it looked like I was marking. The other dancers, on the other hand, were killing it.

Yikes, sorry Adam Alonzo (choreographer).

Teacher: Adam Alonzo

6 months after:

5. I wrote a semi-long post on Facebook celebrating progress. I was so happy I did a semi-okay job on contemporary choreography. Here is the video

Teacher: Ritz of G-force

6. For the first time ever, a teacher also asked me to repeat the choreography in class. This usually means that you did a good job.

Almost a year after

I could kind of execute Urban:

Teacher: GJ Romano

I could improvise choreography with a partner

I would kind of do a grand jette’ again (though it needs so much work)

I finished a Dance Summer Workshop (by Ef Studios)

and the journey goes on…I still have so many things to learn and to work on.

To reiterate:

“I know that I am far from being the perfect dancer. Dance, on the other hand, has been the perfect savior. It saved me for more times than I can count as child and teenager. It still does up to now. For that, I will be forever grateful that I learned how to dance.”

Shout out to Marc Devon (of Marc Devon Dance Workshop), GJ Romano (ef studios, lgac), Acts , Stylettos, Joey Nealaga (A-team, lgac, ef studios), and G-force. Thanks for everything! ūüôā

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A Perfect Fit

Fairy Tale Exercise

Write a lyric poem in which you adopt the persona of a character from a fairy tale. For example, you could describe the way Snow White feels while she sleeps inside her coffin, or how the Prince feels as he holds Cinderella’s glass slipper in his hand.

I chose- CINDERELLA.

I figured it’ll be interesting to delve in the mind of the Cinderella and the Prince.

Fairytale
Photo taken by Jel Tordesillas

A Perfect Fit by Jel Tordesillas 

<PRINCE>

Alas! I’ve found my one true love

Heaven sent her from above

Of all the lovely maidens in the ball

An angel came and made me fall.

The moment she laid eyes on me

I stopped. Forgot reality

Her shiny gown falls second to

The girl who wears it. Yes, it’s you.

<CINDERELLA>

Alas! I’ve found my one true love

The prince I dreamt chose me above

All the ladies in the row

Now I really love him so.

The clock struck 12, I had to run

The moment stopped and I was done

Back there, a souvenir was left

It glittered through the dark and depth.

<PRINCE>

I almost gave up hope to find

The one I danced with just past 9

After a 100 maidens tried

The slipper fits the bonefide.

  My love, why did you have to go?

I loved the maiden not the show

My heart beats wildly for what’s inside

Now I have found- my love, my bride.

My take on black and white photography

I once took photography lessons in an art gallery and it was one of the most influential lessons I have ever had in my life.

In one lesson, our teacher asked us to share our thoughts on black and white photography. Here’s what I said:

‚ÄúIn our other lessons we talked about reducing noise and making our pictures more focused, increasing its meaning.¬†I think this is what makes B&W photography so visually appealing. In removing color, your eyes are able to focus¬†on other aspects of the picture like patterns, emotions, and lighting.‚ÄĚ

Similar to techniques of bokeh, zoom, and crop, black and white photography directs the eyes of the viewers on what the artist wants to focus on, allowing him/her to convey hismessage.‚ÄĚ

I really am amazed on how different a picture looks in color and in black and white. 

Here is part of my personal photo collection. It is my no means perfect, but I enjoy doing it as a hobby.


Title: Motion and Patterns


Title: Lines and Shapes 3


Title: BW111


Title: Lines and Shapes 2


Title: Art at the Restaurant


Title: Lines and Shapes 3

Lisa Macuja: An interview with a living legend

source: lisamacuja.com 

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde: An interview with a living legend
by Jel Tordesillas 

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde is undoubtedly one of my idols. I used to live, eat, and breathe ballet when I was growing up. It is one of the highlights of my childhood and teen years. Back then, hearing of someone who was handpicked to join the iconic Kirov Ballet was mind blowing, inspiring, and just plain amazing. Lisa was similar to a mythical creature that I couldn’t believe existed.¬†

Some other features in her cap include: Silver Medalist, Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition, Tokyo (1987); Special Prize for Artistry by the House of Diaghilev in Moscow (1992); Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (1997); and The Order of International Friendship awarded by President Vadimir Putin (2001).

In this interview, I learned that Lisa was far from being mythical. While still possessing all of the accolades and characteristics that made me idolize her, she turned out to be a very grounded and very well—human. Like all of us, she has experienced pain, fear, and hurdles. But being Lisa, she went though all of these with grace and beauty. She is more than a prima ballerina, she is a living legend who will continue to inspire all types of people to share beauty to the whole world, whatever form it may take.¬†

Who inspires you and why? Share below in the comments.

Interview:

Jel: Is being a dancer inborn or earned?

Lisa:¬†You¬†are¬†born¬†with¬†talent¬†and¬†physical¬†attributes-‚Äď-the rest of a dancer’s success depends on training and commitment, discipline, and hard work.

Jel: What do you consider as your biggest accomplishment as a dancer?

I am proud of the fact that I have had an international career while being based in Manila.

Jel:¬†You¬†frequently¬†mention¬†your¬†injury¬†as¬†a¬†young¬†girl¬†to¬†be¬†the¬†signal¬†that¬†you¬†were meant to take classical ballet. Isn’t that ironic (because other people would have been discouraged instead)? What if the injury didn’t happen. Do you think that you would have still pursued ballet?

Lisa: Even¬†before¬†the¬†injury¬†happened¬†I¬†was¬†already¬†dead¬†set¬†on¬†becoming¬†a¬†ballerina—which is why I sought after the best possible medical diagnosis and cure. I think that, if my mind was not made up, I would have accepted the first diagnosis, just lived with the injury, and stopped dancing. I have always been a fighter, and the injury was something to fight against.

Jel: What goes through inside your head before your dance performance?

Lisa:¬†Several¬†things¬†really—mainly,¬†the¬†question “Am¬†I¬†ready¬†to¬†go¬†onstage¬†and¬†dance?” and if the answer if, “No”, then I take steps to correct the situation. Sometimes, I get distracted by a text message; a thought about something I have to do after the show; something that happens to another dancer backstage; or a technical matter. Sometimes, I take time to review the choreography and always take time to warm-up. If needed, I try some things out with my partner for extra assurance.

Jel: Can you describe three most unforgettable moments that you had in ballet? In life?

Lisa: I would say, the first time I danced Masha in The¬†Nutcracker¬†at the Marinsky Theater. The first time I danced Kitri in Don Quixote—and got a 20-minute standing ovation afterwards (also an the Marinsky Theater). And the first time I danced my first full-length Swan Lake in Havana, Cuba.

In Life, three unforgettable moments would be: when Fred proposed marriage and I accepted; when my daughter Missy was born; and when my son Manuel was born.

Jel: Was there ever a time that you wanted to quit ballet? What made you stick with it?

Lisa: Yes, there was a time when I got very, very depressed that I didn’t even want to dance anymore. It was a very dark period in my life when someone I loved got very sick. I took a leave-of-absence from work. Then I found acceptance, healing, and peace. Then, I just bounced back to work and learned from the experience.

Jel:¬†A¬†lot¬†of¬†Filipinos,¬†like¬†myself,¬†regard¬†you¬†as¬†one¬†of¬†their¬†idols. In your case, who are the three people you look up to the most (Filipino setting, doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the world of ballet).¬†

I look up to my mom, Susan Macuja and my dad, Cesar Macuja. I really admire them because of the way they brought me up and instilled values in me; the way they sacrificed so much to support me; and basically the way they live their lives and have taken care—and continue to take care—of their family and friends. They have sincerely given me examples of unconditional love.

My lifelong teacher and mentor, Tatiana Udalenkova, always warned me against simplifying or changing the choreography of the classics
source: lisamacuja.com

5 Reasons Why Musicals are <3

source: imgtagram.com

I don’t sing.

Correction.

I can‚Äôt sing, which is why it‚Äôs strange that I‚Äôm a fan of musicals. I memorize the lyrics and stuff, and can¬† probably attempt to sing them—but it comes out¬†more like reciting a poem.

There are probably a lot more people who can relate to this sad, sad, reality. <insert crying smiley, haha!>

I’m lucky that I live in a country (the Philippines) that patronizes musicals. The Philippines has their share of local productions which have, in recent years, escalated in terms of number and quality. Hurrah for Philippine Theater! Smile  There are four main musical production houses in the Philippines: 9 Works Theatrical, Atlantis Productions, Resorts World Manila, Repertory Philippines. These are the ones I am familiar with anyway. So far I’ve watched: The Sound of Music by Resorts World Manila, The King and I by Resorts World Manila, and West Side Story by Atlantis Productions. 

We’re also so lucky to be included in some Asian and World Tours of foreign theater groups. This way, we don’t have to buy plane tickets to watch them¬†perform.¬†I have been fortunate enough have watched¬†Miss Saigon,¬†Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables.¬†

…so why am I sooo in love with musicals? Read below to find out.

1.) It’s Live!

No matter how great the special effects in movies are, nothing beats watching something live! It can transport you into the story, and affect you in no way a movie can.

Seeing the actors sing live, dance their hardest, and move with energy is such a high. It’s as if, as an audience member, you somehow absorb the adrenaline onstage.

Not to diminish the value of the good movie. I love movies! I am movie buff as well. I guess both are special in their own way. For one, you can watch a movie¬†as many times as you like—once you have the dvd!

2.) The Production!

It’s so much fun seeing another world on stage. The production, of course, helps in this aspect. Phantom of the Opera has got to have one of the most jaw dropping productions ever.  Still can’t get over the chandelier. Oh, and the costumes!

3.)  The Music!

The notes seem to have such an emotional/inspiring effect on me.  I love how beautiful the melodies are.  Sometimes, when I need to get in the mood for writing, I actually listen to musical numbers online. haha.

4.) The Words!

Since I love to write, I tend to pay close attention to a song’s words. In my opinion, for a song to be great, both the music and the words have to be beautiful.  Bravo, bravo to musicals for making great melodies and great lyrics.

<Sigh…so beautiful>

This, of course, is just a small sampling of the beautiful songs that Broadway has.

5.) Lessons Learned

…or realizations after (or during) watching it.¬† No matter how distant a story may seem. (Hello? Beauty and the Beast?) The emotions and trials that a character goes through are still relatable.

Or sometimes, the production itself is just inspiring. The dance numbers in West Side Story just make you want to get out of your seat and join them.

What do you guys love about musicals? Share below in the comments.