It is not very often that one gets to talk to young people of Filipino descent and find them freely speaking of their own dreams, sans the influence of their Filipino parents.
Or, may be being born and or having lived on this side of the world has seen a development of a totally different mindset and sense of independent thinking to pursue what one strongly feels about.
Way back in the Philippines, it is not surprising for kids to follow the career paths their parents had taken, pursue their parents’ lost dreams, or obey parents’ sound advice as to what course to take up in school or what profession to get into. And many Filipinos do not consider it a bad idea, especially if our kids have no plans or passion about something and thus, needed a guided plan to their future.
It could still be true anywhere in the world where Pinoy families are but in the case of aspiring dancer, Frances Samson, she dreamed her dream, plans its own course and definitely out to run the race on her own through her passion for dance.
19-year old Frances had just been through her first year as a Bachelor of Fine Arts student, majoring in Performance Dance at Ryerson University but her plans for herself are years ahead of her.
New York it is, in the short range.
While Frances recognizes the emerging popularity of dance as a performing art in Toronto, she sees New York as the right place to be to get the experience she deserves. She, however, credits her dance company for the exposure she got, the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT) since 2013. She was a competitive dancer with the Sean Boutilier Academy of Dance and also toured with CCDT.
“I used to be a competitive dancer, doing 4 tours a year with CCDT. And the rest of the year is spent practicing and training at least 20-24 hours a week after school work. CCDT had an amazing training program and structure,” informed Frances.
Starting ‘Em Young
She remembers she was merely 5 years old when she was brought to dance classes as part of her after-school activity. An activity she would even do on weekends and for long hours. This went on until high school. Frances attended Missisauga’s Cawthra Park Secondary School, a special school for the performing arts. Here, a teacher singled out her ability and suggested for her to join CCDT. CCDT enabled her to hone her skills by studying ballet and the Limon modern dance technique. CCDT also gave her the opportunity to perform.
Her love for dancing sort of became official when she decided to enrol at Ryerson University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performance Dance. Though as a university student, she did not get to perform much, she filled in the gap by continuing to dance and travel with CCDT as a guest artist. This kept her close to her dancing shoes.
It is a t this point, or may be even much earlier, she already knew that dancing is her passion.
Who inspired her? Who is her greatest influence?
Surprisingly, Frances could not think of anyone when asked spot on. Or maybe, she said, the dance artists of her dance company whom she keenly observed for their techniques and movements in order to get better.
Dancing, thus, is more organic to her.
Not even her parents, she confessed, have a hand in her decision to be a dance artist. They simply support what their unica hija wants. They never had to tell her what to wish for. Frances believes that dance was where her heart is. From her parents’ point of view, it was as simple as acceding to what Frances wanted and then believing in her.
“Anyone who wants to go into dance has to be passionate and committed. Do not dwell on what you do not have to succeed,”
admonished the young dancer.
Frances, for example, knows she does not have the tall-and-lean feature that dance performers are normally expected to have. But at 4’11’’, she displayed her own ability to jump higher, pirouette effortlessly, move faster. Frances is the only company dancer of Filipino descent in both CCDT and Limon, according to her.
Bigger Dreams with Limon
It is, thus, Limon Dance Company that made Frances dream bigger
An account on its official website records that Limon Dance Company is “hailed as one of the world’s greatest dance companies. It has been at the vanguard of American Modern dance since its inception in 1946. The Company is the living legacy of dance theater developed by José Limón and his mentors, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, whose innovative works revolutionized the American dance . Founded in 1946 by José Limón and Doris Humphrey, the Company was led by Carla Maxwell, who worked closely with Limón, from 1978 until 2016 when Colin Connor assumed artistic leadership as the 5th Artistic Director in the Foundation’s history.”
Canadian-British Colin Connor “is a renowned contemporary choreographer and dance educator, Connor will succeed the legendary Carla Maxwell on July 1, 2016 to become only the fifth Artistic Director in the Company’s 70-year history and the first man to lead the Company since Limón himself.”
“I had heard about the audition in New York City, but never looked into it thinking it was above my technical standards. I attended the audition, realizing I had nothing to lose. After days of auditions, the unimaginable came true. At age 19, I was asked to join one of the most established dance companies in the world.”
It was surreal. Limon was never in her radar. But as the old Pinoy folk tale says, “Kung ukol, bubukol.”
“when it is meant to be, it is bound to happen.”
Proud Filipino Families
Speaking of encounter with Filipino tales, in Frances’ 19 years, however, she only got two chances with Pinoy culture in the Philippines. First was when she was 2 years old which of course she does not remember, and then 5 years ago when the family visited relatives in Quezon City. She was 14 then and got to appreciate bonding with relatives in cool Baguio weather or enjoying the white sands of Boracay.
While nobody else in the family is into performing arts, except may be for an uncle who is into architecture, Frances loved the fact that in both her parents’ families, she is celebrated and recognized for her passion for what she is doing. No, she did not hear any of the stuff dance artists like her usually hear – that dancing is unstable and an unsuitable career choice for one who should be earning a living.
“Any career choice is a valid option,”
Frances emphasized. She would rather see parents, like her own parents and their families, become supportive of whatever it is that their kids want to do.
May be for someone like Frances who has just been asked to join a renowned dance company, it is a valid statement to assume that passion will always bring the big results that one has wished for oneself.
Or, may even bigger results than what one had hoped to have as in the case of Frances Samson, who is now validly dancing her way to her star.