Ballet Philippines (BP) opens its 53rd season with "Dance Here and Now: Equus, Bolero and Other Dances." Its first performance in a grand stage, BP's comeback will have a gala on on September 17, at 8 p.m., and two more shows on September 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. BP President, Kathleen "Maymay" Liechtenstein said and I quote, "We are stepping out again to achieve what the company has sought to, since its founding over five decades ago. We are returning to the grand stage of the CCP bigger, stronger and wiser. Most importantly, we seek to inspire and empower a growing creative community in taking collective strides towards the future."

Ian Ocampo is a company artist of Ballet Philippines CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Ian Ocampo is a company artist of Ballet Philippines CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For this momentous occasion, I interviewed two young and talented ballet dancers from BP. Let us begin with Ian Ocampo. Ian Ocampo is a product of Vella C. Damian School of Ballet. He started his classical training at 13 years old under the tutelage of Vella Damian.

Ian was a former lead dancer of Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT), from 2012 to 2017. Currently, Ian is a company artist of BP and has essayed principal roles in ballets like "Don Quixote" and "Snow White" to name a few.

Let's get to know Ian more.

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What were the skills you acquired while training for two dance companies? Did it help with your present experience with Ballet Philippines?

I have worked with two ballet companies before I got into BP. The first one was the Quezon City Ballet (QCB) under the artistic direction of Shirley Halili-Cruz and PBT under Ronillo Jayanario. With the number of shows we have with QCB, it taught me to be not only a dancer, but a performer who gives his all every time he sets foot on the stage. Grit and virtuosity — these are the learnings I have acquired during my time in those companies which helped me become an effective dancer for BP. Ballet Philippines has the most rich repertoire in terms of choreographers and staged ballets and one of the challenges that I have faced was learning modern ballet. I had to work extra to keep up with the demands of the company. It was not the easiest but it made me a better dancer.

What challenges have you experienced as a dancer so far and what are the life lessons you learned from them?

My mother was an artist herself during her time. She was a professional singer abroad. And one of the things she used to tell me even before I started dancing was, 'Never touch anything with half of your heart.' That shaped me to be the man that I am now. I never got into something that I did not give my all. It might not work out the way that I wanted it to sometimes, but I can assure you that was my best. My path to being an artist was not the easiest. I grew up from a family that have barely enough money for food. It taught me the value of money at an early age. That motivated me to work hard and use my dancing to help my mother.

Who motivates you the most to excel in your career?

I cannot pinpoint one particular person. But everyone that I see who strives to be the best at what they do motivates me. I enjoy seeing people strive hard and make it. It gives me the passion to be at my best too.

What do you hope to achieve 10 years from now?

By that time, I would probably be a retired as a dancer. I would want to be an effective educator to the next generation. I already have ballet school at this stage of my career. Dancing professionally on weekdays and reaching my students on weekends is not the easiest thing to do. But it makes me happy and fulfilled. And I hope to continue and build my teaching career in the coming years. In my next column, I will feature another talented dancer from Ballet Philippines, Jemima Reyes.

For more information regarding Ballet Philippines' 53rd season, email [email protected]