Filipino ballet dancers triumph in Finland competition

By Maria Sheila Riikonen, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jun 08 2012 06:46 PM | Updated as of Jun 09 2012 08:27 PM

HELSINKI - Ballet Philippines' principal dancers Candice Adea and Jean Marc "JM" Cordero won the top prizes at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition on June 7.

Adea won first prize for Seniors: Ladies (8000 euro) while her dance partner and real-life sweetheart Cordero won the Jury´s Special Prize for Best pas de deux -technique (2000 euro).

They won the jury’s approval in this prestigious competition, which attracted 69 dancers from 28 different countries. In the senior and junior division, the top male and female dancers received prizes worth over 55,000 euro.

During the Gala Award Night, the winning pair performed the classical ballet “Diana ja Acteon” pas de deux, which  Finnish dancer and professor Jorma Uotinen widely applauded and described as a “dream, delicate, and achingly beautiful”.

HIBC 2012 guest blogger Johanna Aurava heaped praises for the second time on their final performance.

“Magical was no other than my early favorite, Candice Adea. Again. She danced her Diana and Actéon variation with such technical purity, exquisite expression and warmth.. I think most of the audience has already fallen in love with her! Adea and her now non-competing partner had also one of the scariest over-head lifts, which had one of my back-stage friends praying for their safety! If Ms. Adea doesn't place high, I should be very surprised," Aurava said.

Deputy Principal Arja Tervo from Finland’s Ballet School commented: “...they (Candice and JM) reached out to the audience and touch their hearts....they made us feel special.”

“PILIPINAS we got the GOLD and the BEST PAS DE DEUX TECHNIQUE award ,“ Candice thanked her fans through her Facebook fan page. “Thank you Lord for being there every step of the way."

"We came here to just give our best," Cordero said earlier in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

"We are truly satisfied with the results and... overjoyed," Victor Ursabia smiled to the Pinoys who congratulated him right after the results were announced.

"The women's race was tight...but Candice Adea's virtuosity was dazzling,” Mika Saarelainen from a leading Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote.

The competition's top prize, the Gloria Grand Prix, worth 15 000 euro went to Chinese Yun Wang, 23, who won 7 of the ballet competition prizes.  

Finnish National Ballet dancer and homegrown favorite Maria Baranova, 2009 Junior First Prize winner,  came second and third went to Belarusian Ekaterina Oleynik .

Meanwhile, the Senior Men's category was not awarded any First Prize, at all.  Instead, two competitors were placed second --  Rodrigo Almarales Cuba and China‘s Ruichen Sun.

“We are not just looking at the highest jumps and the perfect pirouttes, we also want to see depth and passion,” Kenneth Greve, Director of the National Ballet of Finland, summarized the jury’s decision.

The elegant Gala was hosted by well-known Finnish performance artists Uotinen and Minna Tervamäki. World famous ballerina Barbora Kohoutková also performed with the National Ballet.  

The National Opera was full and corporate sponsers were highly visible. No less than Finland's former President Tarja Halonen graced the final round last June 4.  Professor Doris Laine-Almi, who is credited for starting the Helsinki International Ballet Competition was present in the preliminaries.

‘Proud na proud tayo sa kanila (We are very proud of them),”  Celine Railonkoski, a long-time Pinoy resident, said after watching the performance. Ticket prices for the performances ranged from 25 to 150 euros.

Tessie Ruutu, cultural director of the Finnish-Philippine Association ry who sat in the fourth row said she was nervous and excited before the results were announced, “para na akong hihimatayin sa kaba” (I almost fainted with excitement).

Now, she and the 2,000-strong Pinoy community are just looking forward to celebrating the Philippines Independence Day party in Finland with Adea and Cordero performing a special dance on June 10.