BAGUIO

The dance of persistence: A journey to victory

WHILE most of us are cuddled in the comfort of our beds asleep, or engrossed in a new Netflix release at 1 a.m., somewhere in the city, a vivo (or nose flute) player accompanied by drum beats and ukulele is playing lively melodies for a dance tutorial streamed live via Zoom all the way from France and the US.

That's how life was for Baguio's Pride and Baguio girl Karen Navarrete Anton almost every day for the past six months, as she trains with coaches abroad in preparation for her All Dance International-World Championships competition, the biggest dance organization worldwide, with presence in five continents and more than 100 countries. She was invited to represent the country in Italy supposedly held last April of this year.

Despite the change of platform from a LIVE global stage to a LIVE online show, Karen, without hesitation, signed up for the Ethnic Dance category where she needed to perform any traditional dance representing a cultural group. To best represent the culture she chose (i.e. Tahitian and Polynesian), she took online dance training classes from the Tahitian Dance Greats and world champions, an opportunity she was fortunate enough to have been given since most if not all dance studios are close for training during the pandemic. The same reason why she ended up being the Philippine's lone representative for the online LIVE competition as all the other Filipino dancers were not able to train and prepare anymore.

Many times, revelation doesn't come until one moves and presses forward. It was sheer determination and the weight of the flag she carries on her shoulder plus a beautiful city she represents that drove her to go ahead with the competition despite a knee and hip injury she had early on in the training. She was never complacent knowing that she will be competing against other professional dancers who will represent different nations. So, everything from the costume, choice music, and level of beauty and the level of difficulty in the dance were carefully and meticulously executed.

The entire competition was held between September 24 to 29, 2020 with hundreds of participants from 50 nations. Following Miami time at 6 a.m., Karen together with her son, champion race car driver Iñigo Anton, had to put together all her creativity and technical know-how to make sure everything is perfect and flawless as it eventually turned out to be wowing all the judges and garnering an impressive score of 94.1% and a well-deserved top spot in her category.

A dancer since 8 years old and a teacher or coach for 25 years now, Karen's passion for dancing is undeniably admirable. Her excellence unselfishly shared to her students through the years from the very first day she taught at Phases Learning Center with 60 ballet students and 3 Polynesian students to the award-winning dance group, Metamorphosis she formed.

Talk about a complete package, and I see no less than a beautiful persona encapsulated in one Karen Navarrete Anton. A true beauty inside and out who has accomplished so much for herself in all aspects of life, Karen's unrelenting generosity to give back to her family and to the community whom she considers her greatest strength and pool of support, never falters. Free lessons from her genius is brewing and is something we all should look forward to, but for now, she finds her role as a homeschool teacher, her family's personal cafeteria lady, cleaning lady and everything else that comes with being a full-fledged housewife fulfilling.


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