Thursday, September 19, 2013

#bravery2013: the AGP week

it has been a month since the AGP week. i really wanted to blog about the whole experience while we were there, but actually until now i still cannot describe how amazing it was. it's like you have to be there to fully understand what i mean, hehe. but well yeah, the least i can do to "bring" you there with me is to share about it. so here i am, recalling that whole week a month ago, which still seems to me like it was just.. last week.

i still cannot get over the overwhelming fact that i've been there in Hong Kong to go through the Asian Grand Prix. so many times i've srsly wished that it would just be a "pleasure" trip of just shopping, going around, relaxing in a different city, and all that tourist thingy. even though that was what i really wanted to do, i know it won't be as memorable. those shopping and #RealLifeHK adventures were just "side features" of an already remarkable trip.

and as you've read on my previous entries (in case you haven't, do it like NOW before you proceed! hehe joke lang but GO), taking on to this assignment was more than having my first competition experience. it was really a gesture of me conquering my fears. going through the process was tougher than actually dancing on the competition stage. seeing my competitors was less frightening than facing the finances i would have to complete to be able to leave. and when i finally got there, i really couldn't hold my tears back anymore realizing how God has brought me to such a height just to mold me to become better. there was nothing that can ever stop me anymore from fulfilling what He has called me to do.

the Acts Manila team upon arrival at the Hong Kong airport

so anyway. we arrived a day before the actual competition date, giving us enough time to settle in, rest, and go around. since our (senior division) competition wasn't until Thursday (we arrived Monday), we had like 3 days of "freedom", hehe. we went to Mongkok on Monday - first stop was H&M! Tuesday, we decided to check out Cotton On in the Central district, but we got lost in those huge stores of Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Georgio Armani.. you name it. so we ended up going straight to our main destination in Causeway Bay - Forever21! 4 floors of shopping heaven that we had to go through in a limited time, haha. and since the competition officially opened Tuesday, we were at the Y-Theater that evening to support the Junior As - Lormaigne, Pia, Claire, and Alex for their elimination round. it was my first time to see those foreign competitors and whoa those kids, it's amazing what they can already do at ages 10-12! when i was their age, my dancing was still just for "fun" and something i do at the sides, but with them it seems like they were already born for it. and mind you, that wasn't only for the girls, but there were boys too who were serious about their dancing as well! i wonder where they get it at that age? (their dedication, i mean. and maybe also their extensive abilities too good for their age hahaha)

at the Y-Theatre, AGP competition venue

the most convenient transportation in HK - the MTR!
no hassle in getting to the theatre + back to the hotel, and we didn't get lost when we went around to shop -
follow the stations and remember the exits, haha!

we woke up Wednesday morning with the news that HK is under typhoon signal number 8. we should be panicking, right? but maybe since because we were raised in the Philippines, we were really wondering, "eto na yung signal number 8?! eh mas-malakas pa low pressure area satin dito eh!" yeah, i still don't understand how they "measure" their typhoons, but srsly they were too cautious about the effects it might bring. we've gathered that before they had a really bad typhoon that they weren't warned about and they were badly damaged. i guess they learned from that and became more prepared, better than being sorry. (i wonder kelan kaya mangyayari yun in the Philippines? after so manyyyyyyy typhoons, wala pa ring "lesson learned"?!) so anyway, since it was typhoon 8, there were work suspensions and some closed stores. even the competition schedule for the day had to be adjusted. we had to stay in the whole morning, waiting for announcements about the typhoon and the final schedule for the day. around 2pm, they lifted the typhoon 8 signal and lowered it, thus allowing some work to resume and the competition to proceed as well. good thing the only division scheduled for that day was the Junior B, no other major adjustment except that the whole thing would end later than the original schedule. there were over 70 competitors for that division, having 3 batches, where Steffi, Abby, Kiara, Bianchi, Joshua, Danina, and IƱigo competed from our group. watching that division, i became more nervous for me, haha! expectations were becoming higher as the competitors get older, and srsly they're all so technically good - thin and loooooong bodies with BOTH extensions and turns! though there were good ones, there were really meh (aka not-so-good) ones too. watching the competition enabled me to gain a "technical" eye, seeing what we can still possibly push ourselves to do and improve.

the Junior Bs - Steffi, Abby, Kiara, and Bianchi

and our turn has finally arrived - Thursday. we had to prepare early to leave for the theatre a little after lunch. our competition schedule came in right after Junior C, so too bad we weren't able to watch that division, where Carla, Patricia, Cheska, Sofia, and Jayson competed. so anyway. we had our own warm up class and rehearsal at the studio. then we were called to finally come down to the theatre. we had 15 minutes to "feel" the stage before we start. i say only "feel" because everyone's there too and you won't have the luxury of space to complete the variation. it was only enough to look for center, where to spot, determine where to go. not even block completely, haha. so anyway. while waiting at wings, i was really praying in tongues the whole time because i can't manage my nerves anymore, haha. i get more nervous while waiting. when it was finally my turn, all i was able to tell myself was, "and to my fears, i'm gonna conquer you now."

with Shek and Melvin during our studio rehearsal before our competition turn!

there was nothing spectacular that i did with my variation, and it didn't even feel perfect afterwards. i didn't slip either, miss a step, or even had a bad ending. all i felt right after was that i was drained. i was soooo tired that i just wanted to leave the theatre right away, dive in bed, and sleep in the hotel. that kind of tired. but all i know after i exited the stage, i was able to fulfill what God has called me to do. and with that, i felt satisfied. all i was able to say was, "thank you, Lord!" as i was catching my breath. i felt i gave Him glory for completing the task that was assigned for me. too many times along the way, i kept forgetting why i was competing and thus letting myself drown in frustrations. but after that moment, i knew i was able accomplish why i was there. and to my fears, i know i've WON over them! by the grace of God.. all because of the grace of God i conquered!

i didn't get through eliminations, so that was the only competition day for me. i felt sad though that i didn't get to perform my second variation, Dryad Queen from Don Quixote (i did Bluebird variation from Sleeping Beauty for eliminations), and even wear my beautiful tutu for that. :( anyway. with what i've realized from being on the competition itself, expectations do really get higher with age. i was the oldest girl from our division (being the last to perform). and since there were younger dancers (and some were waaaaay better - ehem, Joy Womack, 19, from Bolshoi Theatre!), they'd assume i've danced and trained the longest, thus having more expectations from my performance. and that also, dancers who perform more often have an edge in executing cleaner and more refined variations.

our only (and not really clear huhuhu) photo with Joy Womack, the American dancer from Bolshoi Theatre!
she won the highest / over-all Asian Grand Prix Award for this year :")

we were then on a "relax" mode Friday, since we don't have to feel the competition pressure anymore for ourselves, haha. we watched the master classes the next day, for Junior B and Seniors, and the semi-final round too. after, we went back to Mongkok to finally buy some things we weren't able to buy the first time since we were saving our money, haha. we also got to try some legit milk tea + some street food. we indeed went to being adventurous that day, haha. and of course, adventures won't be complete without a hilarious moment at the MTR (clue: Jimmy Neutron hahahahaha). for Saturday, we were back to the theatre in the morning for Junior C's master class, their semi-final round, and the final round for the Junior A. and thennnn, returned to a bigger H&M for more shopping, hahaha. (basically we were in the theatre the whole week, seeing classical variations over and over again. i swear i don't want to hear Swan Lakes Pas de Trois variation over the next year. Aurora is next in line haha).

the most epic Friday Mongkok Adventure - shopping + food + the hilarious MTR moment :))
this wins the most tourist-y thing we've done the whole week, hahaha!

and for Sunday, since there was no other agenda but the Gala and Awarding ceremony at night, Shek and i took the advantage of finally sleeping in the whole morning. for lunch, we finally tried their instant noodles from the Wellcome grocery that we've been wanting to experience the whole week hahaha! so anyway, for the Gala night, they showcased previous AGP winners and the principal dancers from the Hong Kong Ballet. and then the awarding came in right after. we had two entries who made it to the final round, Lormaigne and Pia from Junior A, so we were nervous about the results too. it gave me such pride when the Filipino competitors were commended during the speech of the Head Judge, Mr. Gary Tninder. he mentioned something about how they got entertained by the Filipinos the whole week performing with such talent and passion. (there are a lot of Filipino delegates who also participated from Ballet Manila, Steps, and even other ballet schools from the provinces - Cebu, Iloilo, and Baguio. yeah Filipino pride!) but the pride that i felt that's more dear to me was when Pia got announced placing 5th and Lormaigne for the bronze medal - Acts Manila pride, baby! being the youngest in our group, God has blessed them with a reward for using their talents to represent Him and glorify Him in this stage. Soli Deo Gloria! :")

Lormaigne and Pia before their turn for the Junior A finals
the Acts Manila team during the Gala Night / Awarding Ceremony

indeed that week brought me to new experiences, insights, and visions. seeing dancers from other countries enabled me to rethink of my standards and push for my limits, both as a dancer and as a teacher. being there myself is so much different from just hearing about competition stories. when they first came from there in 2011, what Teacher Chelo has been sharing about the mutants seem insignificant, probably because we didn't get to personally see them. but now they are finally real to me because i've already experienced what they can do. being around them pushes you to aim higher and makes you realize that pwede pa pala to, kaya pang gawin!

and with the competition process, i know i became stronger and more importantly, braver. i couldn't imagine any other way where i can experience God working in this area. and all the events that led to this has helped me face my fears with more determination to conquer them. God has been truly faithful, and there's no way i can doubt Him again after what He has done for me this round. no matter what happens, His words will remain true and His promises are always fulfilled.

if i were to do this again.. maybe. if God would then call me to compete, who am i to say no?

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world.. so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord.'" - 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

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