The Halili-Cruz School of Dance will mark its 38th year with a dance concert on Sunday, July 30, 2023 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Newport Theater for Performing Arts in Pasay City.
“Our first ten years were exciting and highly challenging as well,” said Dr. Shirley Halili-Cruz, director of the Halili-Cruz School of Dance and Conservatory.
“That’s the period we were doing international study tours and actively participating in international dance festivals and competitions. We knew we were on the right track because our students get high marks in international dance examinations,” she added.
Pursuing a professional career in dance education, Dr. Halili-Cruz trained and completed professional teaching courses in Dance Educators of America, American Ballet Center, Neubert Ballet Institute, and in the New York Academy of Ballet.
Apart from winning top prizes in international dance competitions, the students of the Halili-Cruz School of Dance received very high rating in the International Assessment for Dance by the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing and by the United Dance Organization.
Also, chairperson of the NCCA National Committee on Dance in the past 15 years, Dr. Halili-Cruz has initiated several projects for arts promotion and cultural education.
Some students and teachers share their experience at the Halili-Cruz School of Dance.
Said student Alexa Vicencio: “My years in Halili-Cruz School of Dance gave me something to remember. I will always remember the summer recitals and competitions. The HCSD is a second home where you get to learn so many facets of dance. It is the school that has given me opportunities to grow as a dancer and as a person.”
Another HCSD student Gwyneth de Mesa said the coming July 30 dance concert made her appreciate and be knowledgeable about different cultures. “It has been quite a journey. The things you learn about dance certainly widened my arts horizon.”
HCSD teacher Lia Mazo says good dance teaching is not just about being well versed with the steps and other dance routines. “It is also about learning what your students are capable of and what they need to further improve on. It also about learning from your students and building a relationship with them and inspiring them to feel safe, valued and proud about themselves while doing the thing they love most which is dancing.”
Dance mentor Aira Rostrata says a good teacher motivates their students to work hard and keep going.
“Dance is not just about sparkling costumes and beautiful make up. We want our students to be at their best expressing themselves through dancing.”
Student and junior teacher Toni Noel say it is always fulfilling to watch students dance her own choreography on stage. “What is fulfilling is seeing the smiles on them faces after they perform. I always try to make the classes fun and enjoyable, but still try to maintain the discipline needed to train dancers.”
Student-teacher Sam Liao: “I believe that a good teacher is one who brings out the best in their students by giving them the tools, they need to help them grow and improve as a dancer.”
Dr. Halili-Cruz says all the teachers in her school are outstanding graduates of the 12-level ballet syllabus she authored.
Associate director Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno says it was a good learning process learning from her mother at the helm of the dance school. “It was easy absorbing my job as associate director because I’ve been with her since I was seven years old. I know how she teaches and how she encourages all her students to enjoy and love dance. I guess I inherited her passion for the art and to strive for excellence in anything that I do.”
Associate director Grace Perez says that together with Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno, they see to it that the school is run properly. “We are very much hands-on in everything related to the school – teachers, classes, rehearsals, schedules, performances, costumes, music, casting and the like. Our general task is how to keep the school on its toes.”
The July 30, 2023 dance concert at the Newport Theater for Performing Arts in Pasay City will have the special appearance of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.