Carlo Villarin was born to dance.
"Ever since I was a little kid, my parents put on the Michael Jackson live videos and I would dance to them," Villarin, a recent Miles Macdonell Collegiate graduate, told The Herald. "I would follow his moves, what he did."
When Villarin and his family moved to Canada from the Philippines a few years later, his love of dance bloomed when he discovered hip hop dancing and b-boy culture. The fact that his older brother was also a dancer helped.
"He inspired me a lot," Villarin said. "It made me think, Hey I want to do that."
Villarin was a self-taught dancer who did it for fun until he joined the Miles Mac dance program.
"I learned so much," he said. "I’ve learned how to dance properly, how to put that work in."
At Miles Mac’s graduation ceremony on June 24, he was presented with the school’s inaugural Find Your Fight dance scholarship. The award, which is sponsored by the dance program and The Dance Method, will allow Villarin to take a year’s worth of adult drop-in classes at the studio, which is located nearby at 714 Watt St.
"Dance is expensive," admitted Katherine Ybanez, the teacher who started the program. "Dance is just such a fabulous outlet for kids to forget about their worries. I thought about some students in Grade 12 and wondered what they would do next year without that."
"I feel honoured to achieve this award," Villarin said. "I think of how much hard work I put in throughout the year. Honestly, you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it and take your time to practice."
"Dance is a release of emotions," said Orielle Marcus, owner of The Dance Method studio. "It’s a form of expression, so you’re able to tell your story with your movement rather than words, which can be hard for people to verbalize sometimes."
Marcus said she hopes to make the award an annual one.
"Absolutely, it’s something I feel is important," she said. "To be surrounded with other people who share your passion in a positive environment, that’s huge."
Four years ago, Miles Mac had one dance class with 12 students. Next year, the school will offer five sections of dance, and Ybanez expects them to be full.
"I’m so proud to see the students taking dance walking around the school wearing the MMC Dance Sweatshirts that we’ve had made up," Ybanez said. "They’re really starting to walk like dancers."
The program also includes a Dance Crew, which is an extracurricular, audition-based group. Auditions for the 2019-20 crew will take place in August.
"It will be a year-long program to give students the opportunity to perform as much as possible," Ybanez explained. "Performing is an essential part of dancing, but I don’t think it needs to be in front of judges. Getting them out there, performing at different showcases and events is awesome."
Next year, the program will move into a brand new dance studio, which is included in a major renovation and addition to the school’s gym.
"It’s very exciting for us," Ybanez said.
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112