Many little girls love twirling and dancing in their cute pink tights and tutus. But only a select few move on the big leagues of dance, like Negrense ballerina Mona Yusay who is now with Ballet Philippines.
Mona Yusay Started from a Bacolod Ballet School
It cannot be denied that little girls are drawn to cute things, like pink stuff and the graceful art of ballet.
In our city, many daughters of Bacolod families start out as young as 2.5 years old at the Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance. This Bacolod dance school is approaching its golden year of teaching dance. It’s no wonder that they have produced so many wonderful talents.
And one notable former student is Ramona “Mona” Yusay.
The Early Years
Mona joined the dance class at the Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance when she was about 3 years old. She only took lessons during the summer workshops until she was in grade 3.
Mona recalls that she considered the dance classes as play. She didn’t even regularly attend school. There were months that she didn’t enroll at all.
When she was about 9 years old, the school’s matriarch, Mrs. Janette Garcia Sanchez advised the family to enroll her in the classical ballet class.
But from Grade 3 onwards, she started loving the art of ballet. She attended classes at the Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance after she got off from St. Scholastica’s Academy. During the summer, she also continued dancing.
From this point on, she took up classical ballet, contemporary dance, and street jazz at the same time. This went on until she graduated with a degree in Management Accounting from the University of St. La Salle.
Despite the heavy load in school, she managed to balance her academics and dance.
In 2016, she attended the summer workshop at the Ballet Philippines. It was then she knew that she wanted to pursue dancing professionally. This Negrense Ballerina found her calling on stage.
Mona at Ballet Philippines
At the Ballet Philippines, Mona started out as a scholar for a year. Then she was promoted to become an apprentice.
Life as a professional dancer is not easy. Her days are spent dancing from 1pm till about 8pm. In the mornings, she still has to work out at the gym for toning and strengthening.
Plus, she has to carefully watch her diet. And because of her passion and dedication, she was already given a lead role while still being a scholar.
So far, she has been in more than 10 productions performed mostly at the CCP Main Theater.
Going Back to Her Roots
With all her successes, Mona knows that she still has a long way to go in carving a name for herself in the world of ballet. But she is determined.
Mona has spent more than 10 years at the Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance and she is especially thankful for the tutelage of Teachers Georgette Sanchez-Vargas and Gianne Sanchez-Sanson.
Growing up with my Garcia Sanchez School of Dance family as a dancer and as a person gave me a strong foundation for the life I have chosen — this life of a dancer. Now, I appreciate even more, the opportunities that Manang Gianne had given me.”
Mona used to assist Teacher Gianne in her Street Jazz classes for a number of years. “The trust she gave me, plus Manang Georgette’s appreciation of the kind of dancer that I was even back then, gave me the boost that I needed to pursue this career,” Mona reveals.
“They taught me discipline, about coming to school early, and to always remember the warm-ups and stretching,” Mona said. Moreover, she was taught to give way and to compete only with herself. With all the training, Mona is very thankful to the school and her mentors.
To Aspiring Dancers
If there is anything that Mona can impart to aspiring young dancers, she says it’s the same thing that Teacher Georgette told her — Stay humble. Obviously, her mentors had such a huge impact in her life and they continue to inspire her to scale greater heights.
Whenever she is in Bacolod City, she visits the Bacolod ballet school that gave her roots. She even spends time dancing with the younger students. It also keeps her in shape. She misses the school because the teachers have developed a deep camaraderie among the students.
Advice to Young Dancers
For young dancers who aim to pursue a career in dance, Mona has this to say. “Embrace each opportunity to learn different genres of dance, to create dances for the younger ones in the dance school, and to take on the challenges of being a dance student. Years from now, you will understand and appreciate each part of the journey. There is definitely so much for me to learn as a new member of the company, but all these I am truly blessed to be able to experience.”
She adds, “From the bottom of my heart, I truly am grateful to the school that brought me where I am today — The Garcia Sanchez School of Dance.”
Mona hails from Silay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines.
Bacolod Dance School Details
The Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance
17th-Lacson Streets, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Mobile: (0917) 3002124 c/o Teacher Leah