The amazing thing about my job is that since I write about a wide range of topics, I get to meet the most interesting people, doing the most interesting things. If the interview and the article goes well, I’ve managed to establish a contact in some field far outside my own. My network is rather large and I am thankful that I connect with people easily.
Recently, I was invited to watch a rehearsal of Ballet Philippines’ rehearsal for their upcoming production of Rama Hari. The fantastic people behind Ballet Philippines and this production, including legendary choreographer Alice Reyes and Ballet Philippines Creative Director Paul Morales were there to work out the blocking of all the dancers and to fine tune the performance. I talked to some of the dancers and singers and it was just a total joy to watch.
I arrived at CCP and saw that there was a rehearsal for a ballet production of Sleeping Beauty that they were performing the next day at Podium. The dancers for Rama Hari were at the side of the rehearsal studio, stretching and waiting to begin.
The Sleeping Beauty rehearsal ended and I saw Alice Reyes call out numbers and the dancers involved in those numbers came up and danced and she began critiquing and working out the steps with each one. She was refining it and gave them the motivation for each movement. The dancers are formally trained ballet dancers and were doing contemporary/modern dance for pretty much the first time.
I sat there watching and all I could feel was a strong surge of jealousy — it could have been me. It could have been me up there dancing and learning from Alice Reyes. I felt weak and giddy and excited and pained all at the same time. This was the life I could have had but a mistake at ten-years old changed my life forever.
When I was a kid, I was dancing to the CDs at home in the living room. Hours, I’d spend hours just dancing away and when I was ten years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to take up dance class and I said “no.”
No. Why did I say no? I don’t remember the real reason anymore. I knew I wanted my free time but somehow, I remember thinking I didn’t want people thinking I was gay. There was that connotation attached to it back in the 80s and I didn’t even realise that I might be gay until I was reaching my fifteenth birthday. I was a late bloomer, in that sense. I remember somebody had told me that I danced like a girl and from then on, I never danced in front of anyone again. It took a school dance when I was sixteen when I started dancing in front of people again.
I never stopped dancing since. I was out in the club almost three nights a week and on the dance floor for hours on end. Going out to dance was never a social occasion for me. It was just me and the music. When the hard-hitting songs hit, I was at the dance floor and no one could talk to me. I would dance from eleven in the evening until four in the morning, non-stop, and I wasn’t high or drinking alcohol. I could go for even longer when I used to get high; once clocked forty-eights hours of non-stop dancing on ecstasy.
That’s how much I love dancing.
After doing my interviews and watching a whole hour and a half of the rehearsal, I spoke to Paul Morales, who was introduced to me by my friend Denisa Reyes, another great choreographer and the sister of Alice Reyes. I asked him where I could take up classes. I told him my situation: I’m thirty-three years old and never took a formal class ever. He knows about my HIV status and he was very helpful. He told me that I should take beginner’s ballet anyway for the form and the foundation techniques. It would only help me in the future. Then I can take contemporary classes to learn how to use the movements to mean something.
He introduced me to the dean of Ballet Philippines dance classes and gave me the number for a dance company closer to my home so I have options.
The dance company in Quezon City also has jazz classes and that interests me as well.
I’m never going to be a professional dancer. I missed that opportunity twenty-three years ago but that doesn’t have to define me and my dancing. I could still get better and after watching nine seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, I think it is time to expand my vocabulary of movement with regards to dance. I’m inspired. I’ll never be the greatest dancer in the world but I’ll be a better dancer than how I am now.
If I love it so much, it wouldn’t matter to push myself some more. I’m still alive and I still want to do it.
And nobody dances anymore in clubs. They shake their hips and they talk and they drink. It’s not like before, not like in 2002, where everybody was in the dance floor and they were just writhing bodies moving to the beat. I miss those days.
If I start taking classes, I’d be dancing, regularly, with other people dancing too. They want to dance. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t.
It took nine seasons of So You Think You Can Dance before I got inspired to do something about it. I attribute it all to the amazing Cole Horibe. Watching him dance made me wish I could dance like that. He never thought he was good so he kept at martial arts and he just found his way back to it eventually but he made it his own. He fused martial arts with dancing and made it work for him. I’m thirty-three years old and I’m a writer. I make up stories and live in fantasies in my head. I could use that in my own way.
Here is one of my favourite pieces ever produced on So You Think You Can Dance and it is choreographed by Mia Michaels and danced by Cole Horibe and the amazing Eliana Girard. I’ll never get to dance like this; but there’s no point in crying over spilt milk. I love dancing so much, I’ll lick it off the floor if I have to. I’m taking dance classes. Even if it kills me.