Monday, March 16, 2009

Not All Triple Threats Are Created Equal

In 2002, I was called to a conference by the Membership Committee of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), then headed by Melvin Lee. I had just completed my one year application period and they were ready to promote me to apprentice.

After explaining what was expected of me and what I could expect from the company as a apprentice, Melvin asked if I had any questions.

"Is there any way I could defer my apprenticeship?" I asked. I was joining Ballet Philippines then as a company scholar and if I wanted to make the most of the limited life span of a dancer's career, I had focus all my time and energies to dance. There was no room for extra-curricular. I told them that. I made it clear to the committee that I wanted to dance professionally while I still could physically. But I didn't want to leave PETA.

They understood my predicament. While they wanted to support me in my endeavor, as part of the company, I was expected to be there. If I couldn't, what was the point of being an apprentice?

"What will I do?" I asked the. I was seriously perplexed.

"Would you rather be known as the dancer who can act or the actor who can dance?" Melvin attempted to make it easier for me.

I wasn't able to answer.

Years after that afternoon, I finally decided what I wanted to be known as. When I left Ballet Philippines in 2004, I joined the Actors' Company as a scholar and The Pride Manila Chorus as a pioneer member. I put myself out in the arts scene in Manila and experienced what I could. I was determined to become a triple threat.

It's been 5 years, and I am still not. Whether or not I will get there; whether or not the new priorities I have for myself now can accommodate that dream still; and whether or not I still dream of being that --- I am really not sure now.

But I can't help but wonder, what could have become of me if I had realized this dream when I was 9. Could I have come close to what Mitchel David Federan accomplished at his young age?

To be recognized as a triple threat is a laudable feat in itself; but to own the stage and command the audience's attention and be remembered for that one, single scene that a triple threat will appear on is even more laudable. To be onstage with Hugh Jackman is one thing; but to accomplish all these at the age of 12 is way beyond something.