Ballet icon celebrates her 60thbirthday
Not many ballerinas remain in public life when the spotlight is no longer trained on them, living mostly a quiet life away from the hustle bustle of the society much less the dance arena.
Not Shirley Halili-Cruzwho turned 60 on Oct. 20. Her children, Anna Katharina and Francis Frederic, welcomed her mother to a new phase in her famed life with a grand celebration at the Meralco Theater followed by a lavish reception at the Marquis Events Place at the BGC in Taguig City.
At the Meralco Theater that was packed, some 10 dance companies from across the archipelago danced a tribute to Shirley as a way of thanking her for inspiring many young people to dance. Some of those running the companies were tutored at the Halili School of Ballet on Quezon Avenue in Quezon City.
They were: Sinukwan Kapampangan Center for the Arts in Pampanga, the UP Dance Company, Annie Divinagracia Sartorio School of Performing Arts in Iloilo, J.Crisis, St. Louis University Dance Troupe in Baguio, UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, LPU Lahing Batangan Dance Troup in Batangas, PNU Kislap Sining Dance Troupe, Melengas Dance Ensembe in Pagadian, and Bayanihan, the national folk dance company of the Philippines.
It was an almost two-hour dance concert with the Halili School of Ballet opening and closing the program participated in by the students, teachers and staff, making Shirley watching with the rest of the audience teary eyed.
Every dance was met with a thunderous applause, as each dance company showed off the best dance steps in folk, modern ballet and popular dance forms.
At the Marquis Events Place later, Shirley was met with the young students of HSB dancing to the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music.Again, Shirley controlled her tears and enjoyed every bit of the performance that the school’s student population prepared for her.
The food and drinks were overflowing, as was Shirley’s gratitude to her children, staff, faculty and students of HSB for being with her in this milestone in her life. She also thanked the support of her husband EricCruzfor always being her no. 1 fan and encouraging her to do what she could for dance.
Shirley is chairman of the National Committee on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) committee on dance.
While she may not be able to execute a grand jeté or do an arabesque, she certainly knows how to teach those and many other ballet steps like échappé, penchéor temps levé to the school’s growing population of students properly.