This 12-year-old Filipina ballerina is dancing her way to the world stage

Bernadette Sinues—or Badet, as she is called for short—will be the first to tell you that she wasn’t born a ballerina. “I’m not a very muscular person and I like to eat a lot,” she admits with a giggle. “I don’t have the best feet in the world and I have to do extra exercises to develop my flexibility, strength, and arches.” But even if training is hard on the young girl, she says that when she’s on stage, she wants to “just let go and have fun.”

 

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The Makings of a Ballerina

The path to Badet’s ballet dream began at the Quezon City Memorial Circle when she was three years old. The young Badet became fascinated with a group of girls dancing ballet at the park. “They were so pretty and elegant and they were in pointe shoes,” she says. But since ballet classes were so expensive, her parents, Cleo and Ivy (who were both call center agents at that time) left it at that.

 

When the family moved to Davao, where things were more affordable, Badet eventually took ballet—but she seemed too playful and undisciplined, so her teacher held her back a year. Not wanting to feel left behind fueled Badet’s passion to succeed, and she took it upon herself to excel until she was ready for her solo performance: the tambourine dance of La Esmeralda, one that is usually given to bigger girls. Badet was eight years old. From there, there was nowhere to go but up—and she was led to scholarships abroad.

 

When Badet was offered a three-month scholarship at Australian Conservatoire of Ballet (ACB) in Melbourne, her parents were stunned. How were they going to pay for her airfare and accommodations? Turns out Cleo had an old friend based in Melbourne who offered to host him and Badet. He, and Ivy used their savings for plane tickets.

 

 

Europe Calling

After Melbourne, the next step was to study abroad full time. However, no scholarships were available in Australia for foreigners, so the family decided to try Europe and the US. They sent a video audition to London’s Royal Ballet School, and Badet bagged a slot for a live audition.

 

Funds were raised for her to travel there, and the school loved her! “The word they used is ‘charismatic’” says dad Cleo. “No matter how many kids were dancing; their eyes always went back to her.” Unfortunately, there were also no scholarships for her age bracket in London. The faculty suggested that she audition for other European schools, and to return when she was older. She auditioned in France and Germany, eventually landing a coveted spot in a ballet school in Hamburg.

 

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The Village Comes Together

Badet’s ballet journey is far from over, and the constant travel and prohibitive cost of living abroad have made the journey even more challenging. But Badet and her family are grateful for all the support they receive. Cleo made a YouCaring page to raise €45,000 (almost P2.8 million) needed, and assistance has also come in kind. “I would be happy to give Bernadette a full scholarship in my School of Ballet Manila while she is in Manila,” wrote prima ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde.

 

 

“It takes a village to raise a ballerina. We couldn’t do it alone,” says a humbled Cleo. “Looking back, we never expected any of this to happen. We’re thankful every day.”

To know more about this adorable aspiring ballerina, read the full article that appeared in the September 2018 issue of My Pope Philippines. Call +63917.711.1818 to order back issues.

 

Text by Joy Rojas. Photos by Vic Guerrero.

 

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