Mom and acclaimed ballerina Shirley Halili-Cruz on sharing her love for dancing and its values

Mom and acclaimed ballerina Shirley Halili-Cruz on sharing her love for dancing and its values

By Kristelle Bechayda

As a mentor, one of the most fulfilling things we can witness is sharing our passion with others and helping it shape them. For Shirley Halili-Cruz, founder of the prestigious Halili-Cruz School of Dance, she feels beyond proud to have her daughter follow in her footsteps and also see her students apply the values being taught in her school.

Sharing the same passion

Shirley was only 8 years old when she started dancing classical ballet. By the age of 15, she was already teaching other students in between rehearsing for her performances. With dancing having such a great influence in her life, it is no surprise that Shirley put up her own school back in 1985.

Originally established as the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet, the dancing school has expanded over the years to also include other genres like hip hop, contemporary, and tap dancing. It is now being managed by Shirley’s daughter Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno, who acts as administrator, associate director, and choreographer.

When asked on how Shirley inculcated her love for dancing in her child, she admitted that it just happened. “She’s been dancing since she was 3. As a student, she’s very disciplined. She loves dancing without me pushing her,” she shared.

With a master’s degree in business administration, Anna was encouraged by her parents to venture into other fields but after years of working abroad in New York and Hong Kong, she came home to them and said that she wanted to pursue dancing instead.

“I’ve noticed she’s a natural teacher,” the proud mom described of how her daughter. “The students and parents love her so much and respect her. They have a high regard for her talent. I was just observing. ‘Oh my god, my daughter is really into it.’

Shirley even exclaimed that Anna has doubled her own passion and has a high respect for her. “I’m very happy on how she’s running the school. Her relationship with the parents and the students is extraordinarily good. I’m very proud of her.”

Passing on the values

The students from the Halili-Cruz School of Dance has represented the Philippines in numerous international performances over the years and even won in competitions abroad. But aside from teaching them the art and technicalities of dancing, Shirley has also been imparting them something more substantial- values that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“I’m very particular. All my students, they just don’t learn dance. The attitude, the values, and the discipline are also very important. If you check my school now, 90 percent of them are honor students. They’re not only outstanding in dance competitions but they are also outstanding students and persons,” Shirley said.

The efforts of the school’s teaching did not just manifest in dancing. While it was able to producers professional dancers who are now performing abroad, its students who ventured into other fields are still able to apply the values that they learned from the school.

“They said they are excelling because of the discipline, time management, respect for others, and the attitude that they learned from their ballet training,” Shirley said. “So it’s not just simple dancing. It’s always deeper than that.”

For parents whose children wish to learn how to dance, Shirley advises them to be encouraging and supportive. “Also understand that dance is not just what you see, it’s deeper than that. Never mind the talent, that’s natural. But [rather] the diligence, discipline, love and dedication that they have to put into it,” Shirley said.

For more information on the Halili-Cruz School of Dance and the classes it offers, visit

Featured image from the Instagram account of Halili-Cruz School of Ballet.