EVERYBODY MOVES, but not everybody moves freely. The poor are particularly susceptible to the arrest of movement, in the figurative and literal sense, by the hardship that surrounds them.
Through the efforts of the Steps Scholarship Foundation and Academy One, partnering with CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education) and the Tuloy Foundation, young underprivileged students are given the chance not only to move freely, but beautifully, through dance scholarships.
To raise funds for the scholarships, the two entities have set up a gala fund-raiser called Stepping Forward, to be held on Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., at the Globe Auditorium of the Maybank Performing Arts Theater at the BGC Arts Center in Taguig City.
While the two institutions are at the fore of the fund-raiser, the Hamburg Ballet also makes an appearance through Marcelino Libao (also called McCoy), a choreographer and artist at the prestigious German ballet company who happens to be an alumnus of the Steps Dance Studio.
Present at the Aug. 3 press launch for the gala were John Edmar Sumera and Benedict Sabularse, who have achieved some degree of fame for living life as street kids before, through the help of Academy One, being able to join the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition earlier this year.
A bit of trivia: Mr. Libao was the first Filipino to be able to qualify for the finals at the Prix de Lausanne, back in 2008. His performance garnered him a place as a student in the Hamburg Ballet school, which led to him earning a place there. He has been dancing with the Hamburg Ballet since.
Sumera and Sabularse’s trajectory was what inspired Mr. Libao to set up the fund-raising gala in partnership with Steps Dance Studio and Academy One. “I was really touched by how they came from nothing, and two years later, they’re now to enter the most prestigious ballet competition in the world,” he said. “I cannot just sit and not do anything for these children.”
Thus, he stepped up and sold the idea of the fund-raiser to his director, John Neumeier, founder of the Hamburg Ballet School, and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet since 1973. Mr. Neumeier, for his part, signed the rights to perform some of his pieces for free for the gala, rather than charging royalties. Dancers from the Hamburg Ballet, colleagues of Mr. Libao, will perform the following pieces at the gala: “I Got Rhythm,” “Spring and Fall,” “Adagietto,” the Pas de Deux from Gisele, “Flower Festival,” “A Cinderella Story,” and “Opus 100.”
It was just a matter of organizing the show in the Philippines, an easy matter for heiress, socialite, former dancer, and founder and director of Steps Dance Studio Sofia Elizalde.
Since the show will serve as a fund-raiser for dance scholarships, one begins to think about the true value and weight of dance, or art itself in the Philippines. This is, after all, a country where for many people, the yawning gap between what is wanted and what is there prevent many from seeking art and beauty, choosing and taking refuge in what is ordinary, and necessary.
“If you help these kids have a chance at life, everyone wins. It gives them another way of seeing things, and then they can have a goal for something,” said Mr. Libao.
“I’ve always said that I really do find, and I do believe, that art is very important, in any country. I always say this: arts and culture is the soul of a country,” Ms. Elizalde told BusinessWorld. “I know there are many places of need, but [it is] my personal passion, and I’m a real advocate for dance, and so I feel if I can help in that department, I really do believe that there are a lot of kids out there who are naturally gifted for dance and arts, but they’ll never know unless they’re given the chance.”
What does dance do for the person actually performing? “Oh, it gives them so much joy.”
After all, dance will teach more than just steps, according to Ms. Elizalde. The training gives discipline and respect for others. “When children who are underprivileged work with kids who have more in life, they learn from one another. A respect is created between them. That’s an education in itself.”
While the story about to be led by the two boys who inspired the show will certainly be quite extraordinary, Ms. Elizalde says: “I feel that everyone can dance, and everybody has something in them to be able to move.” — Joseph L. Garcia