In a world that has become as chaotic as ours, we have to work hard to find the light and pursue things that remind us about the good in our lives. It has been said that it is our passion that positively changes the world, and the same is true for Shirley Halili-Cruz.
The woman behind the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet, it is Shirley’s passion for dance that built the school that has brought pride to the country, the most recent of which is the school’s successful run in the 18th Asia Pacific Dance Competition where they won 21 awards as the sole representative of the Philippines.
Shirley fell in love with ballet at the young age of eight years old where she trained under Bonnie Weinstein-Calagopi where she was immediately recognized for outstanding talent and discipline. At 15 years old, she discovered her love for teaching and was soon entrusted to run Calagopi’s dance school.
She also trained under Edgar Valdez of the School of American Ballet before dancing as a soloist and principal dancer of the Dance Concert Company while still pursuing her passion for teaching ballet in Siena and Angelicum Colleges. After the birth of her second child in 1984, Shirley decided to stop dancing to go after her dream of sharing her talents and knowledge to young and aspiring dance artists.
Shirley then went to New York to better equip her for a new task in life by enrolling in the Dance Educators of America in New York while also engaging in classes in American Academy of Ballet Center, Neubert Ballet Institute, New York Academy, and Conservatorie of Dance.
Equipped with world-class knowledge, she then established what is now known as the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet in 1985. Starting out with only 46 students, it has now trained over 1,000 students in the course of its lifetime.
When asked what the secret was, Shirley was quick to say, “Ballet education is far more than just producing a ballerina as a dancer as it is intended to arm students with discipline, creativity, initiative, perseverance, patience, and high self-esteem that will make them better artists and the best people they can be.”