By Paola Navarette | Image courtesty of Chris Dowd
Maxine Ilagan’s parents knew she was meant to steal the spotlight. A true prodigy, she started dancing classical ballet at the age of three. She has since been performing professionally in over six years, a feat unheard of for any ballet dancer. “I used to dance ballet when I was young, so I just wanted Maxine to try and see if she’d like it,” says her mother, Priscilla Mae Ilagan. “It was more about exposing her, testing the waters, and finding her niche.”
Maxine has been a scholar of Ballet Philippines since she was nine. This summer, when she got accepted as a full time student of Melbourne Academy of Arts and a member of a semi-professional ballet company, the Australian National Youth Ballet. “I think this is now her challenge–to keep up with international dance demands and standards,” Mae says.
With Ballet Philippines, she underwent rigorous training and pushed her body to cope with the hard work required of the art. “After her classes, she runs from De La Salle Santiago Zobel in Alabang to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay every day to attend ballet classes, which start at 5:30 p.m. and run late into the night. She rarely has Saturday off as she has a whole day of dance classes at CCP,” says Mae.
Maxine was cast in Ballet Philippines for a couple of company shows, where she danced on stage along with the more seasoned dancers. “Her roles may not be big, but performing alongside big names in ballet is already a feat for a budding ballerina,” Mae adds.
Eager to improve her craft, her parents Priscilla Mae and Jericho encouraged her to join premier international ballet intensive courses. For the past two years, Maxine has been qualified to participate in 2018 and 2019 Royal Ballet Spring Intensive Workshops and Claudia Dean Intensive Workshops in Australia.
Adding to the string of achievements, Maxine also had one-onclasses for different dance genres in Singapore, such as Jazz Cats, O School, Adedance Aerial, and Jeffrey Dance Academy.
Her world-class abilities notwithstanding, Maxine is like any other fun-loving kid. When she’s not busy rehearsing, she’s doing piano and violin lessons or baking with her sisters Zoe and Yanika.
Filled with gratitude, moved by passion, and armed with exceptional skills, Maxine is more than motivated to do whatever it takes to make an impact in her new playground. The budding ballerina has been rehearsing for an upcoming show in October at The National Theater, Melbourne. She has also been chosen to represent the Academy to compete in the upcoming Australasian Ballet Challenge.
With her relentless discipline toward improving her craft, she has built a foundation that she will need in the years to come. “Allowing Maxine to pursue her chosen field early on allows her to make the necessary corrections for her to be able to reach her full potential. Giving her our full support as well ensures she can maximize the opportunities available to her to become the best ballerina she can be,” her proud mom ends.