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Ballet for the poor

Eileen McCormick No Comments Share:
The students at Russian Ballet Cambodia. KT/Eileen McCormick

For Genevieve Favorito, Russian ballet is an avenue for creating awareness from the factory floor to the performance stage.
“Working in a Third World country like Cambodia is really empowering but it requires that each performance means something for society as a whole,” she told Khmer Times.
In December Ms Favorito went to a factory in Phnom Penh that makes the well-known Bloch brand ballet shoes and got her students to perform for the factory workers, most of them females.
“We discovered that many workers had no idea what these shoes were and what they were being made for. Not only had they never seen a ballet performance, but they also never heard of it.
“Once they saw us perform, it gave them a better appreciation for what they were creating and how much the quality of their work could impact artistic expression,” she said.
“It was wonderful and it gave a sense of dignity to these female factory workers that their work could empower others to express themselves creatively.”
Ms Favorito started her Russian ballet dance career at the age of eight and went on to win a scholarship at the Arts and Science University in Manila.
She was one of the few in her class who went on to become not only a dance instructor but also opening her own studio in the Philippines. Later, she moved to Thailand and managed to get her studio in Bangkok registered with the Russian Ballet Company in the UK.
In Thailand, Ms Favorito met Devi Vanhon who proposed that they open a branch in Cambodia. In July 2016, both Ms Favorito and Ms Vanhon opened a new dance school in Phnom Penh teaching classical Russian ballet, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and salsa.
Since its opening in 2016 Russian Ballet Cambodia has become the first and only officially accredited dance school in Cambodia.
“Arts has the potential to increase awareness and in turn spur the development of young minds. I would like more Cambodians to understand that and become increasingly supportive of the performing arts, especially dance,” said Ms Favorito.
Commenting on her future plans, Ms Favorito said she would like to focus on the businesses side of running a dance school.
“I would like to create a startup tool for other aspiring arts entrepreneurs so that I can pass on my business skills,” she said.
As for adults who always dreamed of becoming ballerinas, she said there are classes that they can join.
“My goal is to spread the love of dance and performance to anyone who wants to participate.”
Tomorrow, Ms Favorito and her dance school students will be performing the “Dance of Elements” at Raintree, in Phnom Penh, to celebrate the arts, dance, tourism, film and fashion in one act.
“We want to raise awareness that Cambodia is not just a genocidal place of death, where people disappear. It’s much more than that and there’s beauty all around in places like Wat Phnom and other beautiful temples in the city,” she said.
Ms Favorito said all proceeds from the performance will go towards a scholarship fund for poor Cambodian students to study in her dance school.

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