When I walked into the Makati Sports Club the evening of September 18, I had no idea that it was going to be a night of enchantment, filled with swirling draperies, glowing colors, and a display of talent and skill that would leave me breathless.
All I knew that it was some sort of event put on by dance teachers. It turned out to be a grand affair in its eighth edition, glitzy and glamorous, one to always remember.
The 8th Invitational Sapphire Ball is staged annually by the Philippine Dance Teachers Association, an organization of licensed professional dance teachers. Headed by Atty Chel Katigbak, the PDTA is the Philippine member of the World Dance Council and is an affiliate of the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing.
This event was also the 6th Philippine National Championship, with categories such as Standard and Latin and open to various age groups (juvenile, 6-12 years; junior, 12-16 years; 35 and up are considered seniors).
Since it is held every September, the event is named after the month’s birthstone. Accordingly, the decor kept to a blue and white theme.
Knowing nothing about dancesport, all I did was ooh and aah and take blurred photos. Images are inadequate to convey the magic these dancers wove with their bodies, dipping and swaying in time to the beat of the music.
It is a strenuous sport while being an art form – dance – at the same time. During a latin dance – tango, shall we say, or the rhumba – the dancers are sensuous and languid, oozing eroticism from every pore. For the cha-cha or the jive, they smile widely and jitterbug across the parquet floor.
The steps are set, the poses stylized, part of prescribed routines graded by ‘adjudicators’ – yet with a flick of a wrist, the set of a hand, the wink of an eye, dancers seeks to evoke mood and emotion in their own individual ways.
During the waltz, the couples prance across the floor in a swirl of colorful, glittering gowns. Smiles are upon on the faces of the ladies, whose faces are glamorously made up with their hair in carefully-pinned chignons, for this is their big night, one they have been practicing for all year.
It is an art that can be taken up at any age. The young ones are as talented as their elders, prompting the evening’s compere to remark, “These are your future champions.” Their dresses lack the glitter of their older counterparts; this is purposeful, says Atty. Katigbak. They gain the right to use the sequins and rhinestones when they are above 16.
As the dancers glide across the floor, they make it look so easy and effortless that you begin to think you can do it yourself. But closer observation of the moves show the strength and skill, honed by years of practice, that go into each seemingly facile yet utterly enchanting routine.
Each male dancer must have felt like a prince, and each woman like Cinderella at the ball, the center of everyone’s attention for one magical night a year. Congratulations to the PDTA on yet another successful jewel of an event!