At the age of 13, when one is not sure of what direction to take in life, I was introduced to the syllabus of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). I was in Manila, taking my regular ballet classes until my mother had heard of it from a friend. Call it a mother’s instinct; she encouraged me to try the syllabus to further strengthen my ballet technique. Little did I know, it would be the start of a long and wonderful journey with RAD.
I will never forget dear Mrs. Pavit, an elderly British teacher who was married to a British expat and had a small outdoor studio in her home. So there I went to start training for my very first RAD class, Elementary Level (now called Intermediate). We were only two in the class. Horror! One distinct memory I have of that class is her water tasting so good as it was so warm outside. But we persevered and really did enjoy her classes.
At 14, I then moved on to Elmhurst Ballet School, my boarding school where I was to take my first RAD exam and continue on to the advanced levels. Since these classes were requirements of the school, we didn’t even give it a second thought; we just followed what we were told. I must say that RAD was very strengthening and forced us to learn the entire RAD Classical Ballet vocabulary.
It was also extremely fulfilling to take the examination at the end of every year after such rigorous training. It was actually one of the main highlights of the school year. In those days we would have to take the train to do the exams in the RAD main office. We would enter with students from other schools and not with our peers. Interesting learning experience.
Taking exams taught us discipline, how to comport ourselves inside the exam room, dedication to perfect each exercise, knowledge of what each step was called and of course, self-confidence. Passing each and every one of these exams was very uplifting. (Especially when you nail a “Distinction” which is the highest score one can receive!)
At the time, I had no idea where RAD would lead me in my life. Little did I know, it would play a very important role in my future. Later in my career, after dancing professionally for 8 years I decided to hang up my pointe shoes, get married and start a family.
Although I decided to stop dancing, I could not let go of my love for dance completely, so decided to go full circle and start my own school — something I actually always dreamed of doing since I was a little girl. In 1994,on July 18th, Steps Dance Studio was born in a small bungalow on Estrella Street, Belair Village.
A few months later a dear friend and mentor, Sonia Domingo, invited me to introduce RAD into my school. When I was a young student I never really thought about teaching the syllabus, but upon starting my school, I realized it needed a strong backbone of classical training. A distinct style, a training method one could trust and a syllabus that was internationally recognized. That was The Royal Academy of Dance.
I quickly learned that passing my ELEMENTARY exam (yes, the training with Mrs. Pavit in that little outdoor studio) gave me the credentials I needed to apply to become an RAD certified teacher and undergo the two-year training course. So my journey began as an RAD teacher and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
The rest is history, Steps is now on its 21st year, with five of our teachers being RAD-certified. I now not only teach RAD but also help mentor young teachers. Over the years, all our students have gone through grade and major examinations, enjoying the fruits of their labor.
They are living proof that RAD truly works, as many of them have gone off to become professional dancers. Some have also chosen to take the path of professional RAD teachers themselves.
RAD is a fabulous syllabus that not only gives you solid training but can also give you a beautiful future. Hey, it certainly did for me! 🙂