Discipline, hard work and faith. Three important elements that Irene Sabas, the Filipina co-director and teacher of the famous Ballet David Campos dance company in Barcelona, put in mind when she was starting as a ballet dancer in Manila. I met Irene by chance when a friend of mine came from Madrid to interview her. After learning that I would be meeting an exceptional ballet dancer, I tagged along.
“Anybody can be lucky. As long as she/he doesn’t stop working and believing, everything is possible.” These were the words uttered with complete calmness and sincerity from a lady who perfectly knows how to put the word “perseverance” in good use. She trained with the prolific Felicitas Layag-Radiac. Luck may have played its part somewhere, but it was more on her determination to hone her skills that she got the endorsement by the famous ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn to a two-year scholarship grant to study in the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London. There, she mastered her craft under the guidance of high-caliber professors such as Pamela May, Marion Lane, Eileen Ward and Julia Farron.
Not long enough, with her impressive training and international exposure, she became a soloist/principal ballet dancer for the Dance Theatre Philippines portraying major roles like “Swanhilda, Cinderella and Giselle. Hard work coupled with sheer love for her craft, she went on to be a soloist of the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium where she had the chance to interpret principal roles like “Masha” in Valery Panov’s “The Three Sisters” and “Adelaida” in “The Idiot”, Carmina Burana by John Butler, Symphony in Three Movements by Nils Christie, etc. She did performances all over Europe, America and Asia and worked with famous and outstanding performers from the ballet world such as A. Prokofiev (Bolshoi Ballet Moscow), Nicolai Beriosov (Leningrad), Woytek Lowski (American Ballet Theatre) and Vladimir Kaplun (Leningrad), among others.
“Filipinos have a way of doing things, we have the Pinoy touch.” Irene shared that in 1987 together with her husband David Campos opened their own school in Barcelona. Her students found both a teacher and a friend in her. She is very thankful to her parents for teaching her to love her craft and for supporting her all the way to achieve her dreams. Truly an inspiration to our fellow kababayans, Irene continues to help and motivate young dancers to enhance their skills and make it big in their fields of interest. Known for being a top-caliber ballet teacher, she has been invited to give intensive classical ballet courses for Spanish Conservatories and by the University of the Philippines for the Master of Dance Production course in Manila.
At present, Irene is the co-director and ballet mistress and répétiteur in all the productions of Ballet David Campos Dance School. Currently, the school has 90 students and also employs two top Filipino ballet dancers namely Elline Damian and Eduardo Espejo. Both Elline and Eduardo are actively performing in ballet concerts mounted by the school and giving out classes as well.
Last April 24, 2010, Ballet David Campos staged “Bella Durmiente” (Sleeping Beauty) in Igualada. On May 1, 2010, the group will be staging “En Clave de Jazz (A touch of Jazz) at the Sta. Coloma Theatre.
Her message to her fellow kababayans, Irene said it best. “We Filipinos have a lot of talents to offer to the world. Let‘s show them what we’ve got!” Written by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna
(For more information, pls. check out Ballet David Campos\’s website)