Anya Alindada and Rubby Coyiuto share their artistic journeys

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Anya Alindada  and Rubby Coyiuto share their artistic journeys
The 17-year-old Anya Nicole Alindada is the first Filipina to enter the prestigious English National Ballet School in London.
STAR / File

This week’s piece is devoted to interviews with two female artists: a ballerina and a visual artist. Though both of them were drawn to their respective art forms from a very early age, they became artists at very different stages of their lives. Let the spotlight shine on the fascinating and inspiring Anya Nicole Alindada and Rubby Coyiuto.

How amazing is it that 17-year-old Anya Nicole Alindada is the first Filipina to enter the prestigious English National Ballet School (ENBS)? Based in London, ENBS is a specialist classical ballet school for young dancers aged 16 to 19 years old. There, students are prepared to become world-class performers over a three-year program that requires focus, dedication, and discipline.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Anya who is the daughter of my friends Turo and Jakki Alindada. Here are the highlights of the interview.

What was your childhood like?

“My parents homeschooled me from Day 1. I grew up watching ballets, musicals, and plays, and for as long as I can remember, it has always been my dream and passion to dance. I started learning ballet when I was seven and I knew I wanted to make it my career by the age of 10.”

What did you do to make your dream come true?

“In August 2019, at the age of 14, I purposely selected the Japan Grand Prix as my first competition where I would be surrounded by top-caliber ballet dancers. When I saw the Japanese dance, I realized how far behind I was from the Japanese standard. What was most valuable were the five days of Masterclasses given by the artistic directors of the best US and European ballet schools. Returning home and unsure of how to move forward, I prayed and asked for God’s help because I could not get the equivalent level of training that I needed in the Philippines.

“My mom saw a post about a three-day European Masters Intensive being held at the Melbourne Academy of the Arts (MAARTS), Australia in October 2019. This was my second exposure to international teachers. After the intensive training, the artistic directress, Miss Jasmina Stefkovski, offered me a scholarship in the full-time training program which began in February 2020. This was unusual as scholarships were only granted after the student’s second year at MAARTS. This was an answered prayer!

“I’m so grateful my parents allowed me to move to Melbourne on my own even though I was only 15. MAARTS’ faculty and Miss Jasmina personally trained me for over one and a half years for international online (due to COVID) competitions and to audition for top schools around the world. I had acceptances into summer schools around the world such as the Paris Opera, Houston Ballet, and American Ballet Theater.

“I also won awards at select competitions which led up to the Italian competition, Salieri Danza, where I was awarded the opportunity to skip the first round of auditions and go straight to the final round for the English National Ballet School (ENBS) three-year full-time course.”

Are you living your dream now?

“I submitted my final audition and was so surprised and elated to get accepted! I was ‘hand-picked’ by the world-renowned Directress of ENBS, Viviana Durante, who at the time was the youngest ever principal dancer of the Royal Ballet Company. And for unknown reasons, I was accelerated into the second year of the three-year program, making me the youngest in the class.

“I felt and still feel so honored to be one of only 30 out of hundreds who applied for acceptance to ENBS, knowing that their chances of being accepted are close to zero. ENBS was always one of my dream schools and even up to now, I still can’t believe my dream came true. To top it all, ENBS found two donors (one per year) to give a scholarship of 80 percent for each year’s tuition, equivalent to 19,000 British pounds.

“Even before we received the notice of the scholarship, I was not too worried about the funds because I knew that if God wanted it for me, He would provide. As far as I know, I am the first ballerina from the Philippines to qualify for this rare opportunity in ENBS’ 35 years of existence.

“After two years of study, I graduated last July 9, 2023. Unexpectedly, two weeks prior to graduation, the new artistic director of the English National Ballet Company, Aaron Watkins, came to our class to observe. A few days later, I was told that he had selected me to join the company’s performance of Giselle in January 2024…what an honor! Sadly, though, I did not get to perform due to an injury. Injuries are a big part of a dancer’s life and it’s something every dancer experiences or goes through.

“I got diagnosed last October 2023 with a stress fracture in my shin, a month before rehearsals with the company were to begin. I was devastated, to say the least, especially when I was told by the doctor that it would take three months for it to heal and even longer to be back dancing fully.

“Thankfully, my fracture has healed and I am currently in the rehabilitation stage and slowly starting to come back. I hope to be back dancing fully in a few months and am hopeful that I will receive another opportunity to be a part of the company’s future productions. I look forward to the day when I can perform before audiences exhibiting the amazing training that I received from ENBS. It will be my privilege to bring honor to my family and my country.”

Meanwhile, months ago, I featured Rubby Coyiuto in this space when the company she founded, Flawless Face & Body Clinic, celebrated its 22nd anniversary. I was surprised when told that she had joined the recently concluded Art Fair Philippines last Feb. 16 to 18. Her artworks, which are a collaboration with well-known muralist Alfred Galvez and world-renowned photographer Jason Quibilan, were so impressive that I had to learn more about the previously “hidden” artistic side of Flawless’ CEO.

So what is it like being a CEO by day and a visual artist by night? Here are the highlights of my brief interview with Rubby Coyiuto.

What or who convinced you to join the art fair?

“As a child, I had always participated in art festivals. I loved to draw and paint with different media… crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, poster colors, and chalk. I was even into dancing and wanted to pursue a career in arts. However, because I came from a very conservative Chinese family, I was discouraged. They likewise noticed that I was an analytical, left-brained individual and encouraged me to be an entrepreneur. I became a banker and a treasurer for 15 years. But my desire to create was so strong, I started joining exhibitions here and abroad, selling novelties and Christmas décor, eventually venturing into home decorative furniture.”

How did you come up with the pieces? What inspired them?

“My kind of art has always been described as whimsical or out-of-this-world, inspired by my love for fairy tales. As I was in the export business for 20 years, I would travel and observe the intricacies of each town, island or country I visit. I love being in libraries, bookstores and shopping. At the end of the day, I started dressing myself up in my unique RUBBY style. In this exhibit, I wanted to mix or play up with toys and stuff I have loved since I was a kid.”

Will you join more art fairs in the future?

“I enjoyed this whole process of creating the unimaginable in this imaginable world of ours, and I can see myself joining the art fair regularly.”

How do you balance your time as a businesswoman and as an artist?

“It is a crazy Rubby who enjoys this balancing act! Numbers versus colors, seriousness versus frivolousness… Working in and out of the box is what is fun!”

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