Whiplash Dance Company, Inc., founded in 1988, is one of the most prestigious dance companies that grace the world with its world-class performing artists.
From being one of the most sought after jazz dance groups in the show business, its journey of 32 years magnifies its versatility, talent, and passion as a group. As each member goes forth in extending what they had learned from the group, they forever take with them the values they learned from the experiences imparted and the mentors that guided them well.
History was created in the Philippine entertainment through Randy Santiago, Gary Valenciano, Pops Fernandez, The Company, Martin Nievera, Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Ai ai de las Alas, Tessie Tomas, Sarah Geronimo, Kuh Ledesma, and Zsa Zsa Padilla whom Whiplash had been featured as back up dancers. Whiplash gives their 100% In concerts, musicals, and noontime shows each time.
Now, I got the chance to share in the world the talent my Whiplash seniors and teachers have honed in me for 12 years straight at the happiest place on earth. Utilizing the talent, having a safe platform to do so, and having an audience to entertain feeds an artist’s soul.
This, on top of Whiplash’s outstanding work ethic, is just one of the many things I learned. I am more than grateful for the training along with the other 5 important life lessons I carry with me daily:
Being professional in all ways.
Whiplash had been through it all. The ups and downs of the industry had made the group sturdier than ever. But they always go back to the basics. To carry out professionalism, they made sure their dancers are attuned by conducting varied dance classes. From ballet, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, modern hip-hop, and tap, the Martinez’ sisters, together with the senior members of the group were more than willing to educate the young ones.
Then, they got their big break for being the featured dancers for Randy Santiago’s Scandal Eyes Live Concert. By the time the industry demanded more from concert dancers, they had noticed how exceptional the group’s technique was. That served as the trampoline for the group to be launched in a bigger market to be part of many media and commercial events because they were more than ready. As a professional dancer, it’s important to keep your technique intact and to work yourself out to keep up with shows, being the group’s utmost priority.
Show up on time.
I should put this first or together with ‘being professional’. But, it deserves its itemization because it’s not only during rehearsals, shows, or events that you should show up on time but also in casual gatherings and parties. I cannot emphasize more on how Whiplash highly regards time but the group understands the importance of having a work-life balance. They honour their members’ families, education, and commitment.
So, if you agree on the scheduled rehearsals, they expect you to give the same commitment to them. They start and finish their rehearsals on time. And while they are at work, time is maximized, every minute is a learning opportunity. I, for one, was always late. But because of Whiplash, my perception of time reached a certain depth. It reflected how I gauge people now. If they are late it’s either there’s really something unavoidable that happened. Or their respect for the other person is just not there.
Always come prepared.
If your leader says to bring a red top, bring at least 3 of a different style. Know your choreography. Be flexible in terms of changing room locations. Final rehearsals or blocking on stage means wear an all-black attire to distinguish your belongingness to the group. Improvise when need be. Know the contour of your face, hair or wig should not be ‘sagabal’, and most of all, choose the right skin tone for your undergarment and stockings. These among other small things train you. I learned how to be ready the night before, how to allow ample time for traffic, and how to choose the right dancing heels later on as I stayed longer in the group. Oh, and bring hairpins and safety pins just in case.
The group wouldn’t be celebrating 32 years if not for its solid pillars, namely the Martinez sisters, Andy Alvis, and Andrew Ferraris. Along with world-class talented seniors and mentors, they have imparted not the only talent to me, but the passion to perform. I am grateful that at my age right now, with two kids, I can still dance while maintaining a healthy and active physique. And I owe it all to how they trained me and how they honed my loyalty. Knowing how to be truthful in the craft that I do, feeds my soul. The beauty in dance, the high in performing, and the feedback from the audience. Priceless.
At the same time, they taught me how to stay connected from the roots. Though I rarely get the chance to get together with them because of time constraint when coming home to the Philippines, I see to it that I could see them here in Hong Kong when they visit. Once, my husband had to attend a wedding on his own of a groupmate from Whiplash, they were more than welcome to treat him as a family just as how they treated me.
I learned to work with a team. I learned what selfless meant. And I also learned how to represent what you stand up for well enough to earn self-respect and self-confidence. I learned how to say no to distractions. And I learned how it’s ok to say ‘no’ sometimes to stay focused.
Empowered people empower others.
The success of Whiplash is not reflected only by the worth of their performance. Because of the reputation they had established in the industry, I was able to graduate by dancing with them professionally.
I was able to pay the dues, my rent, and live decently because of how much I earned from them. But more than that, they valued relationships with clients and co-workers. They valued time with their families that loved ones are welcome on casual gatherings.
Whiplash takes time in knowing who the real you is outside work by celebrating holidays and having out-of-town trips when time permits. They listen when you need somebody to talk to. Also, they gave me work when I needed money for school back then. They taught me how to work hard, persevere, and inspired me to pass the blessing when I finished school and got hold of a chance to perform internationally. This family empowered me to reach my highest dreams.