‘Seize the moment and dance’ with Ballet Philippines’ free online masterclasses

Published July 20, 2020, 4:04 PM

by Kerry Tinga

Learn from instructors based around the world basic ballet techniques and movements all from the comfort of your home

(Photo from the Ballet Philippines website)

The appointment of Ballet Philippines’ new artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk, who goes by Misha, could not have come at a more turbulent, yet interesting, time. The whole world has gone virtual in the current health crisis. And so Misha ushers in the 51st season of Ballet Philippines as a season of firsts: his first season as artistic director, and the company’s first season online.

The transition is timely. Ballet Philippines has half a century’s worth of history as the country’s leading dance institution. Now the company takes the lead again with Filipino ingenuity as it adapts its training to online classes. Ballet Philippines embraces the change, like dancers that work together, effortlessly bending and dipping and moving seamlessly across a stage.

Mikhail Martynyuk is the artistic director of Ballet Philippines. A multi-award-winning artist and choreographer, he is a star dancer of the Kremlin Ballet Theatre and holds the title of Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. (Photo from the Ballet Philippines website)

“Not having the opportunity to learn, train, and expand your horizon in dance is the worst,” says Misha, an award-winning dancer and choreographer who trained and performed in Russia prior to taking his new position at Ballet Philippines. “Even more sad, however, is closing your door to opportunities when presented to you. We have to seize the moment and dance. Greatness should be in the mind of all dancers, even during this unforgiving Covid-19 pandemic.”

On Ballet Philippines’ sleek, re-designed website, under the “Learning and Training” tab, dancers can find a wide offering of exercises and masterclasses to take. It features pre-recorded videos by ballet instructors, teasers of the classes taught by renowned instructors. The online, interactive calendar at the bottom shows the full offering of live, Zoom-based exercises and masterclasses students can sign-up for and join, also for free.

The three main programs of Ballet Philippines’ online classes are Misha’s, and those of guest artists Joseph Phillips, who holds more gold medals than any other American dancer, and Joshua Serafin, who is known for his conceptual choreography and art. Their company classes are continuous, each leading to a choreography that the dancers are expected to master and perform remotely.

Meanwhile, open to the public are the various one-off masterclasses and choreographic classes scheduled throughout the upcoming months. The instructors are based all around the world, bringing to the classes a blend of classical and contemporary techniques suited for all levels.

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde is the artistic director and CEO of Ballet Manila. In 1984, she became the first foreign soloist to join the prestigious Kirov Ballet, also known as the Imperial Russian Ballet. (Photo from the Ballet Philippines website)

Along with the choreographers of the main programs, take lessons from the likes of Igor Kolb of the prestigious Mariinksy Theater, Filipino dancer and choreographer Marcelino Libao of the Hamburg Ballet, the Philippines’ own Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, and many more.

From beginners to seasoned performers, dancers looking for a way to express themselves in these stressful times will find that the art of ballet and dance lives on—online. We have found ourselves at home, indoors, staring at our screens for most of our days and weeks. To explore and move our bodies can be so liberating. It is a way to combat the stress and anxiety that may have built up. It is a way to feel light and free for a moment. It is a way to remind ourselves of our own strength and power when we feel like we have no control in life.

“The health of the body depends on the health of the spirit. And art is the language of the soul,” adds Ballet Philippines’ president Kathleen Lior-Liechtenstein. “If that is squelched, all else falters and dies… picture a world without colors, all in black and white. That is why we have labored to keep ballet alive as we enter the new normal.”

If not with Ballet Philippines, regularly check the calendar on their website to see new class offerings and schedules. To sign up for a class, register online with your e-mail address and an indication of your level of experience. You will receive a Zoom invitation through e-mail to join the class. All that is left is for you to empty your mind of your worries and let the art inside you take over.

[email protected] | www.ballet.ph/learning-and-training

Correction: An earlier version of this article misattributed the quote of Kathleen Lior-Liechtenstein to Mikhail Martynyuk.