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Meet Beverly Bautista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beverly Bautista.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

As a first generation Filipino-American, only girl in the family, and born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, my exposure to dance was quite non-traditional. One day, a family friend asked my parents if I would be interested in performing for the entertainment portion of a fundraiser dinner dance; since some of my cousins already agreed to be in it, I decided, why not join this one performance. Several performances later, I became exposed to traditional Filipino folk dances such as Pandango Sa Ilaw, Tinikling, and the Singkil, as well as dances to some of my favorite musicals like A Chorus Line, Grease, and West Side Story! I loved performing and I took my performances very seriously but did not think much more about it after they ended. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when my high school’s dance team performed at a pep rally, I knew that I had to be a part of that team! I went to tryouts and made the Junior Varsity team, and at that point in my life, I had very minimal to no formal training. I knew that if someone showed me how to perform certain technical movement or any movement for that matter, I could learn and adapt to it very quickly.

From a young age, I have always loved learning new movement. I was very involved and joined anything that allowed me to perform dance: talent shows, musicals, show choir, and dance team. I even took Hawaiian and Tahitian lessons and was given opportunities to perform at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago. For my 18th birthday, I also choreographed my cotillion entertainment show with 20 dancers and six dances! As high school came to a close, my parents were very adamant about me attending college, due to the importance of academia instilled in them at a young age. My dad was an electrical cad design engineer who graduated from the University of the Philippines, and my mom was a nurse who graduated from the Philippine Women’s University. Dance was the only thing that came naturally to me, but I had no idea what it took to become a professional dancer, let alone make a living out of this art form. The expected pathway to success in a Filipino household usually consists of the pursuit of anything medical-related. A common occupation for a Filipino woman is to be a nurse or anything pertaining to the medical field. My parents were torn because they wanted me to be happy but they were concerned about my future and well-being. I was constantly reminded that in order to be successful, I must pursue a nine to five stable job with benefits. I, on the other hand, entered into a very unstable occupation as a professional dancer and it took me a while to figure out how to financially support myself. In my early years, the church community I was a part of was predominantly Filipino, and when I began my college years at Ball State University, it was quite the culture shock. I came to realize that I was one of few minorities in the dance department. I was also the first Filipino friend to several of my college classmates. In fact, I discovered that Ball State’s Asian population was less than one percent during my undergraduate years. This reality helped me embrace and appreciate my background.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience my parents’ hometowns in their native country, the Philippines, and I was speechless. Dirt roads, overcrowded cities, homeless children begging for money, trash in the streets, country-life, humble beginnings—were all a part of my parents’ background. One thing I’ll always remember about my trip was visiting my dad’s hometown, Taysan. It was so great to see and hear the way people spoke about him. They clearly loved him and he loved them right back. I could also tell he was highly-valued and celebrated as a leader who continues to give back to his hometown. I taught a free dance workshop at the local gym and 25 people came to take class! It was so rewarding to contribute to his legacy in his hometown. As an undergraduate student, I thankfully did not have to work due to great sacrifices made by my parents. Their determination really inspired me to find a stable income in my field, but it was extremely challenging and often discouraging. Post college, I kept my eye on California, but it wasn’t until my opportunity to dance at a Monsters Dance Convention that my life’s trajectory would completely change. I auditioned for an opportunity to be a part of a show in Los Angeles and the rest is history. For the past ten years, I have been a working dancer, choreographer, and teacher in Los Angeles and to say that I make a living while doing what I love is incredibly special and fulfilling to me.

Since moving to California, I have had several ongoing conversations about underrepresented women and minorities in the dance industryI have noticed situations where I am the only woman teaching or there have been many times where I was the only minority. Even when I was invited to teach at a school in Cabanatuan, Philippines, all of the students were so shocked to see a dance teacher be a woman! I believe I have the responsibility with my background and platform in dance to encourage women and minorities that anything is possible. I am excited to elevate my career to a new level of academia and I believe that my passion, curiosity, resilience, and professionalism will be the foundation to continue my purpose and calling in dance.

Currently, I was accepted into the MFA Dance Graduate Program at UC-Irvine where I will pursue an emphasis in Commercial Dance History. I hope to be a Commercial Dance Historian, write an encyclopedia, and one day create a dance history museum.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?

It has not been a smooth road, but I am grateful for all of the ups and downs because it has challenged me to humble myself and ask questions. One resource that helped me is a program called “Managing Cash Flow for Artists” which is offered through the Actors Fund (https://actorsfund.org/workshops/managing-cash-flow-artists-1). It helped me increase my financial knowledge and find more stability as an artist.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?

I am proud of my ability to adapt to a variety of jobs; whether it’s choreographing for professional dancers on a gig, teaching a high school dance class, or teaching a private lesson. I love choreographing for those who enjoy learning and growing in dance; however, this year I am looking forward to reading and researching more in dance history. I am excited to assist in large lecture halls as well as expand in my knowledge as a dance teacher and choreographer.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?

There are so many people to thank and hopefully I don’t forget anyone!

Some of my amazing supporters have been: Ben & Josie Bautista (my parents); Benson & Jenny Bautista; Tracy D’Hooghe; my former high school counselor, Kathy Boller; the Blanco Family; Ilagan Family; the Bautista Families; and COUNTLESS other extended families that I don’t see regularly but support from afar!

Marc Spaulding has been a great supporter and also happens to be my boyfriend. I love his insight, philosophies in dance, teaching, and especially his worldview on art.

Gigi Torres has also been such an amazing voice in my life to help me shape my business, brand, and stand up for my worth as an experienced dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She is also one of my best friends! Some of my other amazing creative entrepreneur friends and supporters are: Niecey Chong, Erin Marino, Denise Antoine, Kayla Heaton, Autumn Ellis, Katrina Amante, Patrice Burton, Andrew Phan, Martel Jackson, and Marisol Winkler.

Anthony Thomas, Melissa Thomas, and my whole Rise of the Nation 0817 Family have also been very influential in my life. Anthony and Melissa have been like my dance dad and mom in Los Angeles. I also love training from Anthony and being a sponge around him because he has so much to offer regarding his history  with dance and the industry.

My Ball State Theatre & Dance Family have helped shape me into a professional artist and encouraged me to pour into and connect future generations of BSU alumni together.

My Pacifica Arts & Theatre 31 Family have exposed me to art, expanded my curiosity as an educator, and encouraged me to pursue the next steps in my creative endeavors. They have truly shaped me into the person and teacher I am to this day.

My Monsters Dance Family gave me my first opportunity to perform in Los Angeles: Andy Funk, Becky Funk, Kevin Maher, Tony Testa, Chonique as well as other working choreographers who gave me the opportunity to be a working dancer: Chucky Klapow, Gil Duldulao, Laurieann Gibson, Luther Brown, Kennis Marquis, & Free Boogie.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nicki Nicole Niemet (all images in long sleeve black leotard with black & white striped shorts and red dress), Jino Abad (in all black outfit & black leotard & floral skirt), Niecey Chong: graphic designer of logo

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