Who would have thought that Jean Marc Cordero, one of today’s multi-awarded, world-renowned performers and Principal Dancer of Ballet Philippines, never once imagined that the enchanting world of ballet actually existed far beyond his imagination?
“I was just starting in high school when I first saw a ballerina,” recalls Cordero. “And it was only then that I realized they were real. I’d always thought ballerinas were extinct, like dinosaurs,” he admits with a chuckle.
Jean Marc Cordero played Albrecht in Ballet Philippines’ Giselle with Katherine Trofeo as Giselle at the CCP Main Theater.
Cordero wanted to be so many other things—a pilot, a doctor, a military man, a professional basketball player—but eventually, it was another love that led him to his ballet destiny, a career path he would eventually excel in.
“I got into ballet because of my girlfriend,” confesses the 27-year-old performer, revealing that it was Candice Adea, a fellow alumna of the Philippine High School for the Arts (where Cordero studied) and now world-class ballerina, who inspired him to get into the craft.
Wanting then the chance to dance with Adea, Cordero began to study ballet. At this time, he was already in second year high school, relatively a late start as compared to most professional ballerinas who begin training almost the moment they learn to walk.
Eventually, Cordero joined Ballet Philippines as a scholar at the age of 18, under instructor Noordin Jumalon, before finally becoming a company member in 2007 and continuously practicing with bigwigs Augustus Damian III and Alan Hineline.
For Cordero, Ballet Philippines is an exciting and very dynamic place to nurture one’s love for the dance. “I spent nine years working with and learning from different artistic directors,” says Cordero. Aside from Jumalon, he was also mentored by former artistic directors Cecile Sicangco, Agnes Locsin, Denisa Reyes, and of course, Edna Vida.
“Because they each have their own methods, there was always something new to look forward to,” he points out. “It’s exciting to learn the techniques that worked for them and rework them into a certain style that would uniquely work for me.”
One of Cordero’s career highlights thus far is joining the New York International Ballet Competition in 2007, together with Adea—despite being relatively new in the industry.
He recalls the stiff competition they faced. “Being intimidated by the other dancers, who were all superb, was part of the experience, of course,” shares Cordero. “But in Ballet Philippines, we learned to gain respect by giving it. So eventually we made friends and became part of a new circle, and at the end of it, we earned the respect we first gave.”
Since the competition, he and Adea have often been partnered together for productions; and together, they have made Ballet Philippines and artistic director Paul Morales proud by reaping awards in various competitions, such as the USA International Ballet Competition in 2010 and the First Boston International Competition in 2011.
And despite having experienced the dance world beyond the country, Cordero declares that Ballet Philippines will always be his home. “I grew as a dancer through those competitions,” he says. “But I was happy to make my way back to Ballet Philippines, and ultimately, my country.”
Cordero recently played Albrecht in Ballet Philippines’ Giselle, Southeast Asia’s longest-running professional dance company’s highly-anticipated opener for its 44th season celebration, themed IllumiNATION. He played opposite Katherine Trofeo, who headlined the show as Giselle.
Trofeo, who joined Ballet Philippines in 2008, has performed lead roles for the dance company’s productions of Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Crisostomo Ibarra and Don Quixote.