Shirley Halili Cruz’s inspiration to endeavor into dance education began as early as when she was 15 years old, when her ballet teacher Bonnie Weinstein Clalagopi entrusted to her the dance classes that Ms. Clalagopi was handling. She taught ballet, Polynesian and Jazz in Siena College, St. Paul College and Angelicum School, Quezon City in 1974. From then on, she has taken the career path as a ballerina and as an educator.
The Halili-Cruz School of Ballet (HSCB) was established in 1985 to realize Shirley’s dream to share her love and passion for dance. The school was born of her conviction that in every child lies a bud of artistic sense that may blossom into a great and exquisite artistry. HCSB opened with 46 students but is now a talents galore about a thousand promising dance aspirants.
The HCSB main studio is housed in an imposing two-storey edifice of modern architecture located at 1227 Quezon Avenue,
Quezon City. It has 4 spacious studios (3 of which are fully air-conditioned) equipped with ideal barres, resilient wooden floors, full-length mirrors and audio systems, dressing rooms, rest and shower rooms, waiting area, ample parking space and canteen. It also has a dance shop that carries all dance items and a costume room. The school has a good collection of classical music and videos of classical dances.
In order to provide an appropriate and comprehensive program, Shirley Halili Cruz, the school’s Director and Founder authored a 5-level Baby Ballet Syllabus and a 12-level Classical Ballet syllabus based on the Filipino physique, innate artistic ability and culture. This syllabi covers the different levels of ballet, which the HCSB offers all year round. Aside from the Syllabi authored by Shirley, the school enhances its program by using the following: Ballet Syllabus of the (CSTD) Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing – based in Singapore and Australia, American Academy of Ballet Syllabus based in New York, and the Philippine National Ballet Syllabus.
To further enhance the skills of its students, the Shirley Halili Cruz School of Ballet regularly conducts the following activities:
1) Three Grand Ballet Recitals a Year held at:
- Newport Performing Arts Theater
- Meralco Theater
- Cultural Center of the Philippines
- School Year Culminating Activity
- Summer Dance Workshop Culminating Activity
- Christmas Thanksgiving Concert
2) Outreach Programs
- School Presentations
- Church Activities
- Concert at the Park
- Quezon City Circle
3) Provincial Tours
- Sayaw Pinoy
- Dance Exchange
4) Mall Performance Tours
- SM Malls
- Ayala Malls
- Robinsons Malls
- Star Malls
- Newport Mall
- Marquee Mall
5) Summer Dance Workshops
6) Lecture Demonstrations
7) Ballet Study Tours
- Hong Kong
- New York
- Los Angeles
8) International Summer Schools
- Dance Excellence, Los Angeles, USA
- CSTD Singapore Summer School
- American Academy of Ballet, New York
- CSTD, Perth, Australia
9) International Dance Competitions
- Perth Festival of Dance (Australia)
- Asia Pacific Dance Competition (Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines)
- 21st International Dance and Arts Competition (Malaysia)
- Bauhinia Cup Invitational Dance Competition (Hong Kong)
- Performance Boards of the American Academy of Ballet (New York)
- Dance Excellence Performances Awards (Los Angeles)
- Japan Grand Prix (Japan)
10) International Festivals
- Asian Arts Festival (China)
- Ansan Street Arts Festival (South Korea)
- Dance Exchange (Philippines)
- Exchange of Culture Through Dance (Malaysia)
- Hong Kong International Dance Festival (Hong Kong)
- Love to Dance (England)
- Danses Above Elbrus (Russia)
11) Dance Choreography Workshops
- American Academy of Ballet
- Dance Excellence
- Asia Dance Company
- Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing
- Royal Academy of Ballet
- Vaganova Method of Teaching
- Australian Conservatoire of Ballet
12) International Assessment Program
- American Academy of Ballet
- Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing
To further enrich the HCSB training program, the school invites foreign ballet masters to give extra classes to the students. Invited were Russians Sergei Bykov, Anatoli Panasuikov, and Natasha
Vyskubenko and Iouri Vyskubenko, Koreans Chin Soo In and Young Chul Moon, William Morgan, Miro Zolan, Alfred Rodriguez, Manuel Molina, Hans Christian Wagner, Becky Rodriguez, Malaysian Lee Lee Lan and Chinese Madame Wu.
The school has developed a systematic promotion procedure that can check the progress of the students through semi-annual oral and written examination coupled with actual evaluation in both theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline. The regular activities previously mentioned are opportunities for students to display their dance skills and learnings which will help them develop self-confidence. To date, the school has had numerous productions, all of which elicited critical acclaim.
The Halili Cruz School of Ballet supports young and talented girls and boys, thus it provides various forms of scholarship to deserving students. It has 3 types of scholarship: the Director’s Scholar – offered to low income but talented students; the Scholarship for the Gifted – offered to the exceptionally good and with high potential students; and the HCSB Loyalty Scholarship – offered to those who have been in the school for at least 7 years without break, regularly attends classes and in good standing.
As a response to a demand to make the Halili Cruz ballet education accessible, the HCSB opened a branch in Poveda Learning Centre in 1991, St. Mary’s College (1998), Alabang Country Club (2003) and Miriam College (2007).
The school is staffed by competent teachers who are all one with the Director in the vision to equip students with tools and rudiments of the art and to uphold excellence in dance training. The teachers are all personally trained by Shirley for more than twenty years, and are all outstanding graduates of the school. They are also soloists of the Quezon City Ballet, the performing group of the Halili Cruz School of Ballet.
Teachers Grace Garalde-Perez, Anna Lissa Tuazon-Balmadrid, and Anna Kathrina Halili Cruz were awarded as the World Class Achievers in Arts. In fact, HCSB’s Grace Garalde-Perez was the first to take the highest level of examination ever conducted in Asia where she got the highest grade of “HONOURS PLUS”. To continue the tradition of excellence, Shirley selects potential teachers from among her advanced students and provide them with Teachers Training to prepare them as Assistant Teachers and possibly future teachers of the school.
As part of the updating and exposure program of the school, the teachers periodically attend and participate in seminars, workshops and full-teaching pedagogy courses here and abroad. Among the seminars they have attended were: the Teacher’s Ballet Seminar in Hongkong conducted by Jean Wong, the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet Teacher’s Course conducted by Christine Walsh, the Commonwealth Society of Teachers in Dance Seminar conducted by Betty Tilley, the Teacher’s Seminar and Workshop in New York’s Summer School of Excellence conducted by Mignon Furman, Stephanie Saland and Katharine Zaymes, the Vaganova Method of Teaching conducted by Tatiana Udalintkova, the Royal Academy of Dancing Teacher’s Seminar conducted by Valerie Bailey and the teachers workshop of the American Academy of Ballet.
Students of the HCSB are also given a chance to prove their dancing prowess in various international ballet competitions and international dance festivals. In 1999, the American Academy of Ballet gave the advanced students scholarships to the Summer School of Excellence held at Vassar College in New York. Here, they joined the Performance Awards Program and again, they reaped 17 gold medals, 3 silver medals and majority of the special awards. In July 2000 eleven of the students represented the country and won 22 awards in the 2nd Asia Pacific Dance Competition in Singapore. Based on this successful performance, five of the students were given scholarships to the Singapore Summer School where the SHCSB won 1st place and was chosen to represent the Philippines in the Perth Festival of Dance in Australia. In the Festival in Australia, the school also won the Perpetual Trophy and 1st place for Open Classical Solo; 2nd place for Open Modern Solo and Open Classical Championship; 3rd place for Open National Solo and Honorable Mention for Open Neo-classical Solo. In July, 2001, the Director brought with her a bigger delegation. All the 51 students won all the 1st places and all the Perpetual Trophies in all the categories they participated in. In October, 2001, the SHCSB was chosen to represent the Philippines in the 4th Asian Arts Festival in Beijing, China where their performance was received warmly and well-applauded by the Chinese audience.
In July, 2002, the school participated and represented the country in the 4th Asia Pacific Dance Competition in Singapore where again they won the major prizes to include: gold trophies in Classical Solo-Open Category, Neo-classical Solo-Open Category, Groups under 12, and the Aggregate Trophy. In July 2-9, 2004, the Halili Cruz School of Ballet was chosen by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to Brunei as part of the Philippine-
Brunei Cultural Agreement and in line with the celebration of the Philippine Food Festival in Brunei. Right after the Brunei trip, the Halili Cruz School of Ballet prepared for another trip to Singapore on July 23 – 27, 2004 to once again participate in the 6th Asia Pacific Dance Competition in Singapore where 73 students were entered as participants of the competition. In that competition, they won 67 awards: 1 aggregate trophy, 2 perpetual trophies, 21 gold trophies, 20 silver trophies, 3 bronze trophies, 1 special award and 19 medals. Just as we thought that the Singapore trip would be the last of the HCSB international trips, they got an invitation to participate in the St. Louis Global Festival in New York on October 15-22, 2004.
In July, 2005, the HCSB brought the country pride anew, as we once again it joined the 7th Asia Pacific Dance Competition. They won 14 gold trophies (first prizes), 14 gold medals, 11 silver trophies and 3 bronze trophies in all the different categories they participated in: Classical Ballet, Neo classical, Demi Character Dance, Modern Jazz and National Category. There were more than 300 competitors, 23 dance companies and dance schools participated in the competition and Halili Cruz School of
Ballet won most of the gold trophies. They also won the Perpetual Trophy for getting the highest grade in the neo classical solo category and they also won the most coveted award the “Aggregate Trophy” for getting the highest points in the entire competition. It was a great victory for the Philippines.
In July 23 – 24, 2006, the HCSB participated in the 8th Asia Pacific Dance Competition from where they brought home 19 gold trophies, 8 silver trophies, 7 bronze trophies and 13 gold medals in the 63 different categories they competed in. There were more than 350 dancers from the 24 different dance companies and schools who participated in the competition. The group also brought home 5 Perpetual Trophies. It was indeed another great victory for the school and for the country
In April, 2007, the HCSB was invited to compete in the Dance Excellence 2007 in Los Angeles,
California and they proudly brought home 5 gold Trophies in classical ballet. The festival and competition was participated in by about 52 countries. Fresh from a successful feat in Los Angeles, California, the HCSB brought home another grand slam victory from the 9th Asia Pacific Dance
Competition held in Singapore in July, 2007. They won 23 gold trophies, 7 silver trophies, 5 bronze trophies, 8 gold medals and won all the perpetual trophies for getting the highest grade in the competition’s major categories. More than the 550 dancers from 26 different dance schools and dance companies participated in the grueling level dance tilt.
In July 26-27, 2008, the HCSB was once again invited in the 10th Asia Pacific Dance Competition held in Lee Foundation Theatre, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. Consistent with their previous achievements in the competition, the HCSB once again made the country proud as they brought home the Perpetual Trophies, 20 gold trophies, 17 silver trophies, 12 bronze trophies and 9 gold medals. For the past 14 years the HCSB has been invited to participate in the Competition and each time, they won the highest number of awards. Following all these achievements, the school continues to hold the award, the Most Outstanding Ballet School in Asia.
In April 4- 14, 2009, the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet participated in the Dance Excellence 2009 in Los Angeles, California, USA where they won four first prizes and one 2nd prize. The Dance Excellence was participated in by more than 800 dancers and directors from Europe, Australia, America and Asia. This was another occasion of bringing pride to the country. On May 2 – 6, 2009, the school participated in the Ansan Arts Festival in South Korea where they were the crowd favorite.
On July 16 – 21, 2009, the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet once again made a significant mark in the international community as they again won the Grand Prize in the 11th Asia Pacific Dance Competition in Bangkok, Thailand where they garnered 22 gold trophies and 12 perpetual trophies. They are also the Grand Prize winner in the Grand Championship for Classical Ballet and Modern Dance.
In November 22 – 26, 2009, the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet made another significant achievement as they garnered another First Prize in the Youth Division- Neo-classical category in the 21st Century International Arts Festival and Competition held in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Prior to its trip to Malaysia, the Halili-Cruz Dance Company was adjudged and awarded as the Best Classical Dance Company in 2009 by the Aliw Foundation.
Aside from these international performances and competitions, the students are also encouraged to take international ballet examinations as part of the wholistic education offered by the school. The HCSB prides itself with 100% of its students taking the examination passed with flying colors. In the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet Examination conducted by Christine Walsh, the examinees got the grades of “commended”, “highly commended” and “distinction.” While in the Commonwealth Society of Teachers in Dance Examination conducted by Betty Tilley and Joanne Richards, they got the grades of “honours” and “honours plus.” The students also receive very high grades in international assessment programs.
The school prides itself for producing professional ballerinas who became the professional dancers of the different professional companies here and abroad. Some of them are doing well abroad to include; Melissa Greco, now member of the Princeton Ballet in USA, Noel Dumlao already has his own dance company in Australia, Ruby Buted is now a principal dancer of the Contemporary Dance Company in LA and Elmer Domdom is with a German dance company. Some are members of dance companies here, such as: Iris Aviguetero and Patricia Hermosa, now members of Whiplash; Faye
Abigail Tan and Jared Tan are now members of the Atlanta Ballet, Regine Magbitang, Nordic Caraig, Ian Ocampo, Lemuel Capa and Kent Garcia are now members of the Philippine Ballet Theater; Madge Reyes of Ballet Philippines and Martina Manalo, Raja Gavina and Dona Mangahas are now with Ballet Manila. There are graduates who opt to stay in the HCSB as professional teachers while at the same time soloists of the Quezon City Ballet: Grace Garalde-Perez, Anna Lissa Tuazon-Balmadrid, Maan de Guzman and Anna Kathrina Cruz. The HCSB dancers are not only appreciated for their excellent performances but also for the admirable discipline, behavior and friendly attitude.
Today, the Halili Cruz School of Ballet is the biggest ballet school in the Philippines with a population of almost 1000 students. It is the only school with 3 recitals a year held in the Newport Performing Arts Theater, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Meralco Theatre. The school’s director continue to receive invitation to open ballet schools in different areas in the country, in Brunei, in Singapore and in other countries. With all its accomplishments, the excellent program it offers to its students, the pride it has brought to the country and the continued proof of excellence it has committed itself into, it truly deserved the award the “Most Outstanding Ballet School in Asia”.
Behind all these accomplishments of the HCSB, is its energetic and creative Artistic Director, Ms. Shirley Halili-Cruz, a multi-awarded woman who has remained simple and humble despite her status in life. She is the fire that impulses the unending activities of the Halili Cruz School of Ballet. But behind the school’s huge pillars and imposing facade, elegantly maintained facilities and highly competent and committed teachers, dedicated and accommodating staff, and multi-awarded director is the pervading spirit that draws children and parents even from as far as Bulacan, Antipolo, Parañaque, Alabang, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Tarlac, Nueva Viscaya, Camarines Norte, Quezon and Pampanga. Perhaps, the school’s wholistic approach in teaching ballet which includes not only dance skills and techniques but also fine values of humility, trust, generosity, patience, love, respect, sense of beauty, elegance and grace makes the HCSB attractive to would be ballerinas. It could also be the glow and warmth of the Director, teachers and staff that easily capture the trust of both children and parents. For at HCSB, the road to perfection in the art of dance is laid wide and straight.