Two Filipina Ballet Dancers Pirouette to Glory at the World Ballet Competition

Young ballerinas, Veronica Atienza and Mikaela Lauryn Santos scored a rare victory and achieved recognition at the recently concluded World Ballet Competition. The competition held last June 13 to 18 at the Linda Chapin Theater, Orange County Convention Center Orlando, Florida gathered ballet dancers ages 10 to 22 from 24 different countries, and from all levels of experience from introductory to professional.

The two Pinay ballerinas conquered the ballet scene with their excellent performances throughout the three rounds of the competition. Competing in the Pre-Professional Category, they pirouette to glory and leaped to the finals round.

Overall, Veronica Atienza got the 4th place while Mikaella Santos came in the 15th.

Atienza performed contemporary pieces and classical variations of Diana and Paquita. Her Esmeralda variation ranked Top 1 in the competition’s Round 2. Santos performed Black Swan, Giselle and Grand Pas Classique variations.

Both ballerinas are home-grown talents of the JNA Dance Center – School of Classical Ballet; under the guidance of teacher Effie Nañas.

Effie Nañas, one of the country’s esteemed dance luminaries, stood as the dancers’ choreographer, coach and mentor. For this competition, she chooses dance pieces that perfectly suit her dancers’ strength, personality and character.

“With all the excitement and nervousness, they did pretty well. My students did their best and they danced with full passion and confidence. I coached them to the best of my ability. They had more than 10 months intensive quality training and preparation. I am proud of my students – their commitment and dedication,” said Effie Nañas.

Asked as to what the most exciting part of the competition was, Effie shared, “It is knowing the decision of the judges and how my students fared well with the rest of the competitors. Every round was a suspense for me and the girls, especially waiting for the scores. They are first-timers in this competition and they did a wonderful job. I feel happy with the results. Thank you to everyone who supported us back home and watched us live via the internet broadcast.”

In ballet where bodies are taught to communicate, words continue to have power. Effie Nañas’ moving statement before her students performed on-stage definitely carried them on to glory: “I said to them – I know you’ve worked hard, God will reward you. Put your trust in Him. He will place you where you’re supposed to be.”

That invaluable advice surely gave the dancers the confidence they need to perform their best.

Bringing Pride and Honor

The World Ballet Competition’s (WBC) tagged as the “the Olympics of Ballet” brings together beautiful ballerinas and powerful male dancers from around the world. The competition serves as a platform for recognizing extraordinary talents and encouraging excellence in the art of dance.

Dancers compete for prizes, scholarships to the world’s leading dance academies, invaluable contacts, job opportunities, connections and recognition at an international level. All competitors were judged based on the technique and artistry.

For teacher Effie Nañas and her ballerinas, this competition is a challenging and moving experience. They learned to apply their best techniques and balance it with artistry.

Veronica Atienza also shared the stage with top finalists and world-famous international stars during the event’s 10th Anniversary Gala where she performed “Diana and Acteon”. The gala is a one-evening dance extravaganza, titled “All-Stars of Dance,” showcasing a dazzling line-up of classic pieces, as well as modern showstoppers.

Truly, Filipino talents are magnificently real; bringing strength to the audience and getting the moment they so deserve.

Leaping into Excellence

The ballerinas are soaring in the professional world of dance.

Mikaella Santos received a full intensive summer scholarship in Atlanta Ballet and plans for apprenticeship are already ongoing. Veronica Atienza will continue dancing. This month, we’ll see her in Philippine Ballet Theater’s production for its 30th Season, “The Great Classics” featuring Jared Tan of Atlanta Ballet.

As the ballerinas continue to develop their love for dancing and look forward to their next turns, they will carry on upholding the Filipino spirit high, no matter where they would set their pointed feet on.

As for Teacher Effie Nañas, she believed that there is so much talent in the Philippines. She will continue to train more dancers to show the world that Filipino dancers are capable of excelling. She is also hoping that more people will support the arts and see the very promising career in ballet.

“My students and of course, Filipina ballet dancers have their distinct advantage. They have their natural grace – a grace that comes naturally, and not put on.”

She will keep touching the lives of the kids and mentor ballet students to the best way possible. With her goal to mold students toward excellence, that is – not just to be a great ballerina, but to be a person with the best character, is indeed an admirable trait and deserving of respect.

With her mentorship, Filipino talents will surely continue to shine in its grandest glory.

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