On twinkle toes’ posts about me

I don’t choose to look back on this memory, it’s been more than one year since I left and i really wanted to move on from leaving this place i called another home for a year or so. I don’t want to post hate online but i believe people are not dumb, and everyone we be better knowing my side of things as well. I will just allow this post, and my actions from here on, to speak for myself.

Im making this a public post unlike my former employer Ms. Cherrie May Umbalin who chose to hide her posts from me or my family so i would not be able to see them. Thanks to your hateful and snarking posts, people i don’t even know, and who don’t even know me, hate me. Though I try to avoid trouble, I still think that when something wrong is being said about you, I have to defend myself tactfully and honestly. I am aware of every single thing I had done. I even have all of her emails to show everyone involved, as she has decided to post about me, seeking for affirmation from her friends to wish ill on me. She was a really close person to me, until she wasn’t. I felt like I left on good terms when I started my own ballet program because I had sent her my resignation letter (before which I had already talked to her about leaving) which will be included under this post. I even sent it a month before leaving and yet I still taught at her school afterwards.

Now, I get people from other schools saying that I am stealing students. I never did drag anyone to my school or force them to come. They came and paid at their own will. Stealing or Poaching people is a funny term to be used. I mean, if a person tries and ends up preferring my training to yours, that’s on him or her, not me. And if a person decides to leave my ballet program and join your school then no problem –that only reflects on her preferences. I will tell you all though, since I left twinkle toes ballet and music academy, in Fairview, I have had only 5 of her students come and join me at their own will, wiith them messaging me first and not the other way around.

This ia a post that she recently shared online: It was sent in to me by a friend of mine since I obviously would not have seen it.

The third photo caught my attention, because this photo is actually of my current assistant Sophie. She allowed me to use the photo in this post.

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Sophie actually was the one who approached me, expressed her dislike for the school and how she was treated. She expressed to me that she wanted to work with me after as my assistant and that the only reason why she stayed at twinkle toes was because of me. It was of course her decision to come and not mine, and so I would like to clarify that, since she used this photo to show that I was inviting people.  (I will get to the schools system after this)

REASON 1: HOW THE SCHOOL IS RUN 

When I first got there, there was no system at all. I remember my first year, there even wasn’t a schedule. I was just told to come in from a given time and there was no specified ending time, which I found weird. I was the one who made the ballet schedule, being a person who actually runs on a schedule. I was really keen on setting up one. I wanted to help the school because I saw a lot of talent among the students there. I think every parent who was there really knows how much work I put into the school.

The school owner, Ms. Cherrie, and I would talk a lot after ballet because I would encourage her to set up more shows or more events for the kids or things to look forward to so that they could get better and more exposure. She did so and followed through, but the system of the school, or lack thereof remained the same. She would charge the parents extra PER MINUTE for going overtime. She always encouraged me to extend their training so that they could be charged more. I never knew that a school would charge a per minute fee of overtime. Talk about ethics. So I’m sorry to those parents who paid overtime per minute, but rest assured I only got paid per hour and wasn’t privy to her schemes.

Now, I’m not sure if that has changed or not but I’m hoping it has.

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REASON 2: HONG KONG COMPETITION TRIP

I went to hong kong with her daughter and another student of twinkle toes. As their coach, I wasn’t asked to go to Hong Kong with her and the school. I found that to be a bit saddening and I really wanted to come because you trained the kids and your presence would be beneficial for them. I didn’t push it but when the other parent expressed that they wanted to pay for me to be there, I opened it up with Ms. Cherrie. The parents expressed to me that they wanted me, the coach, to be there and not Ms. Cherrie. They knew that they wouldn’t be taken care of because her daughter would be competing too.

We enjoyed our time in Hong Kong regardless of Ms. Cherrie. I got to talk to my student and have coffee with her and her parents. We had a long talk about leaving the school, as they were not satisfied with the way things were.

In the end Ms. Cherrie told me that she wanted to discuss my payment but I told her in a message maybe we could discuss it in person. I never got a meeting to discuss it, i found that really unprofessional on her part. She then told me that she would pay me partially every month for my fee and all other expenses but we never really got to discuss the rate. I don’t know how things like this work and I was just too tired and I didn’t want to see her anymore. If she really did want to pay me she really would have paid me already. The parents on the other hand were very clear on the intent of me being there with them in Hong Kong and we constantly were with each other.

If you go to these competitions, you would not be paid for being there to support the students. Sometimes you couldn’t even watch if you didn’t have a ticket. It would be an ordeal from 7am-9pm and it was really no fun at all. On top of that, not getting paid for your time might be fun at the start because you would think, hey, it’s an experience. I was happy the first time, because that was the first time we joined and that was my first competition where I coached my students (Which i guess are her students under the school, technically). It was nice seeing the kids improve and I loved that feeling. But when it starts to feel like work and you’re not getting paid, things can get sad.

FINALLY: RECITAL

As for twinkle toes’ recital many people know that I did almost everything for them last 2017. I was backstage, i did the kids make up, most of the choreography, the program set up, i was the PA backstage, i had the headset and was even the one on the microphone announcing intermissions. But I was only paid as a teacher, and none of those other roles. That day was utter chaos and just one of the worst days of my life. I was paid but i feel like doing all of that was not part of my obligations. But If I didn’t do those things who would have? She had no sound director, lighting head, she had no trained assistants. Of course I knew how it worked, I’ve been living in the theatre for almost 14 years of my life.

That was the last straw for me, i couldn’t stay in a job where I knew I couldn’t soar any higher. I knew I could really do so much more than that. I felt useless that I got so frustrated but then I had an opportunity to go to Latvia. It felt like a chance to start fresh before coming back.

To get one thing completely straight. I absolutely loved my students at twinkle toes. Everyone knows I would spend my Sundays there or even make time beyond what was agreed upon. If you are or used to be a parent with twinkle toes you would probably know she always does this.

I posted a video of our student (her school, but my coaching) because I was proud of her. The parents of that student trusted me with her training and they were the ones who wanted me to be in Hong Kong. Now, Ms. Cherrie has and entire issue with the video, as if it’s completely hers and the student has no say in it. The student is in my program now.

Another issue was that one of her students wanted to come with me. I offered this girl a scholarship since her mom asked. If you knew this girl, she was and is really gifted. I wasn’t aware that she was on “partial” scholarship under NO CONTRACT with Twinkle Toes. It became a really big issue and I told Ms. Cherrie that under her contract, I would not allow the student to come to my program without settling her fees with twinkle toes first. I felt as though this wasn’t an issue with me, as it was ultimately the decision of the parent to pull her out, and settle her dues. I also included at first that as a scholar, the mom needs to bring in 2 students, The mom did eventually invite 2 people for me even if it did take a little while. I was informed in a text message from Ms. Cherrie later on that I was lying because she knows someone who joined my program and said that there were no other students. How would this person know? Since she only came a few times. We all can’t just run on these assumptions and allegations and post angrily online.

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So think what you will, but i really think we should just move on with our lives. That’s what I’m doing. I am so happy with the current dance program im putting up but i know i have to do this first to put this issue to rest. I am still inviting anyone who wants to learn ballet the proper way from someone who thinks that ballet is an art, beautiful and brilliant and not only business. Im crazy about it —my eyes are set on my students falling madly in love with ballet just as much as me.

I’m not someone who jokes around when it comes to ballet because just like any good teacher, we acknowledge that our community is one of tradition. Insulting me would be an insult to all of the teachers who has ever taught me. Of course, people who have not been through the training and the culture that I and many other individuals have been through, would never understand, as she does not.

Dance Competitions. Are they healthy? Short review from my experience of the ABAP competition.

I feel like competitions are something parents love, most especially here in the Philippines, Theres the Philippine Dance cup, The ABAP competition and the CCP dance competition and many others. I wonder sometimes if it is healthy to be putting children into competitions into something as subjective as ballet. How then would you score your dancers? By the number of turns or the amount of battements they do? Are we educating our youth better? Or are we creating monsters out of an art we love.

Did we ever stop to think. What was the purpose of this? Did our dancers grow properly? Did they change for the better? Was it good for them. I think educating our future dancers well, is as important as educating their teachers and their parents properly.

I feel like I have to bring this up, even if I hate ballet competitions. Last weekend I was at a ballet competition and My student ranked first in the rankings in, Junior 5 Ballet Category. I am positive about this because I wrote down all of the girls scores and she scored the highest out of all the girls who danced. I was so excited to congratulate her backstage and see my student of all the girls had placed first.

Now when she received her award they announced that she was 7th place, Imagine my surprise. From first place to seventh? What was wrong? Was she deducted something? Did I teach her something wrong? Backstage they told her they had made a mistake and so they awarded her 6th? I was still not convinced that my student ranked 6th. And my other little student was also supposed to be 3rd but ranked 4th when announced her name.

Now of course confused and furious in my head but calmly we talked to the ones in charge, they said all the girls are deducted for every wrong step they make according to the video. Now this is a variation i know by heart. I am positive every other girl did the variation the same way in accordance to the video that they sent. (I know my friends can attest to this, I am known to know many dances, variations and choreographies by heart) I am positive, except that second girl who danced did it a little differently on the pas de cheval but only one step was changed from what she did as compared to the others. They deducted plenty of points from my student just for a missed step that I know wasn’t true because I observed each girl and each step during the dance.

I am of course disappointed as a teacher, I know my student deserved to win that category. And I am not convinced that she deserved 6th or 7th place. She did it the cleanest and with the most heart. I know when my student does bad and when she doesn’t, I know this because she deserved her 4th place in the other Junior 4 category in fact i think she did pretty awful there but I am not afraid to admit that. She also knew that herself, and she told me that too. But this time i choose to speak up and share this experience because i believe I do deserve a clear explanation as to why my students and my own hard work and months and months of dancing didn’t deserve 1st place.

I would just want an explanation as to How can my student who ranked first get more deductions than the girls who fell on the floor? I want to know for my future reference, Is it something personal? Does this happen in all competitions? If you cheated everyone in the competition was it worth it? I saw plenty of other students whose scores jumped from 2nd to 4th and etc. It was very painful to watch as a teacher.

 

 

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So did this competition turn me into a monster teacher? Maybe not. In fact It inspired me to do better as a teacher. Maybe it is not the case in all competitions and ballet is just something that is too difficult to judge in the first place. Of course at the end of the day it is not who wins and loses and life is not a competition. I just want my students to enjoy dancing the way all my teachers taught me but I wish I knew why we didn’t deserve to win that category.

Don’t get me wrong, I am of course grateful that all my students placed. Even my small baby ballet students placed and did very well during their dances but we all know that the older girls will also show the strength of the school. As a teacher building her own reputation, I want to know for myself what I can do to improve and what I can do to help my students more.

Now as a parent or a stage mom, if you are to decide wether to put your child into a ballet competition. Is it worth it? I encourage you all to think about it and read about it before you act. Here is the “sakit” if you may call it of the Filipino people. They absolutely love competitions they like listing their achievements. My parents are not the typical and as everyone knows I grew up in a Japanese setting. My mom taught me mostly that a smart dancer reads, she knows and she has to do everything from the basic. My mother is very particular with small details and she always told me, it matters.

Do you think it is healthy for your child? Is it turning into an earning scheme for schools? I hope we think about these things before entering into competitions. After all, we all aim to become better versions of ourselves right? Or to create better more artistic and beautiful dancers? Where has that art gone? Is ballet simply a sport now, or is it still an art?

This makes me sad. What are your thoughts?