When an artist helps another, you know that they have found full appreciation of their craft. They know of its power,its legacy and it's capacity to heal. Only when you feel strongly about something do you find the need to go beyond your routine and reach out to another. Two women who have obviously reached this level have been called by the universe to share their art and their response is legendary.
I am talking about elite ballerina Sofia Zobel-Elizalde and Pinoy pride Stella Abrera. These two women have more than one thing in common. In fact from on outsider's point of view they seem like kindred spirits. For one thing, both are celebrated dancers. Elizalde was a former dancer of Ballet Philippines.She was regarded as a child protegee and after a worldly education in dance she rose up the ranks and conquered lead roles with the company. Stella Abrera's ballet education was diverse as she traveled a lot during her youth. She was a child star who won the gold award in the Genee Awards when she was fifteen years old and secured an American Ballet Theater contract at seventeen. Today she is regarded as one of the most accomplished Filipino dancers as she now serves ABT as a Principal Dancer. Both were blessed with a global perspective and a rich career. In the past years they realized their own clout and ability to contribute more than just their art. While Elizalde has stepped out of the spotlight she took on perhaps her best role yet. As artistic director of her school she developed a scholarship program. The STEPS Dance Studio Scholarship Program eventually extended its arms to Center of Excellence Foundation (CENTEX) supported by the Ayala family. Abrera in 2014 was a bright light in the middle of a very threatening storm. She created a movement called Step Forward for the Philippines which is focused on education and creative needs of students. Her project included the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines. She performed with Ballet Philippines and instantly developed a cult following. While she remains one of the busiest dancers in the international dance scene, she has found time to continue the project in her own way. They both believe that art allows people to have dignity and a sense of equality. They both are firm believers of good solid education. Both have remained steadfast in continuing their initial efforts. The stars must have aligned and found a way to unite these like-minded women. Their similar journey is now intertwined. In a few days they will be taking a few steps together in the interest of their common goal of creative education through dance. Their dancing careers have been inspirational to many but I think their gift to the community is what will make them legends in the Philippines. These women are on fire and are determined strike gold for the children.
The ballet community is ecstatic that their union has resulted into a one of a kind gala fundraising coined "An Intimate Evening with Stella Abrera and America Ballet Stars". This is the second consecutive year that a Filipino artist from abroad has made it possible for the locals to see international stars perform while giving a handful to a worthy cause. Ironically last year's show was called Stepping Forward featuring STEPS' very own Marcelino Libao with several artists from the Hamburg Ballet. It was a tremendous success. They raised a hefty amount of money for CENTEX scholarship program as well as Tuloy Foundation. This time with Stella Abera at the the helm of the gala, she has brought in no less than American Ballet Theatre's principals and soloists to help her solidify a win for Elizalde's CENTEX scholarship program. The cast she has recruited includes Isabella Boylston, Balaine Hoven, Catherine Hurlin, Alban Lendorf, Gillian Murphy, Aaron Scott, Jose Sebastian and Roman Zhurbin and a few dancers from the scholarship program. Her cast alone caused temporary mania as ballet aficionados and dancers rushed to buy their tickets for the show as soon as it was possible to do so. The shows are almost completely sold out with a handful of tickets remaining for each day. With so many sponsors who jumped in solely because of these women's inspiring vision and ticket sales , the project will no doubt be another success.
|Dancers of Hamburg Ballet with the CENTEX beneficiaries|
What is important to note is that even before the show has commenced, this women have already achieved a milestone. The collective star status of the artists have given the CENTEX foundation a voice. For a second time, CENTEX was given a chance to reintroduce itself to the locals as a worthy effort that needs support. Sometimes out of sight means out of mind, this gives people a chance to choose CENTEX as their chosen beneficiary. For that alone, these women should be given a standing ovation. Additionally I have no doubt that their show will elevate the interest of the ballet community to hold on to the tradition of dance. Two hits with one stroke.
I'm sharing their powerful story because they truthfully empowers me. I hope other people are encouraged by their parallel vision. They have given so much yet are willing to give some more. Not only have they both glorified the Filipino name with their dance achievements, they serve to let others have a taste of the world they have experienced. I hope more people are empowered by their example. This project is a good reminder to care about people. What better way to care than through the nurturing power of art.
If you believe in their vision you can still help by purchasing tickets BUY TICKETS HERE
If you want to learn more about their advocacy click STEPS AND CENTEX or CENTEX or STEPS FORWARD FOR THE PHILIPPINES There are more than one ways to help. Take a step forward.
Check out some of the pictures from the previous fundraiser with Hamburg Ballet Artists and
a few pictures of the cast of "An Intimate Evening with Stella Abrera and American Ballet Stars"