Before she turned 19, Anya Nicole Y. Alindada became the only Filipina to graduate from the prestigious English National Ballet School (ENBS). Long and limber at 5’6”, she is blessed with tapering legs, arched feet, naturally high leg extensions, suave movement quality and expressiveness, coupled with a fierce independent spirit.
At this writing, Alindada is starting the ENBS Professional Trainee Program, a six-month course that prepares young dancers for their careers, from going to auditions to performing onstage. Two weeks before her graduation from the ENBS Senior School, English National Ballet’s artistic director Aaron Watkins spotted her in class and selected her to join the company productions of “The Nutcracker” in December and “Giselle” in January 2024.
In her social media posts, Alindada musically and seamlessly flows through dances. She has the talent to smoothly transition from classical ballet to contemporary—and stand out in both due to her well-rounded training.
In the Philippines, she has been homeschooled all her life by her parents. It provided a personalized education wherein parents could adapt the curriculum and teaching methods to the child to guarantee good results.
Alindada developed her pliancy in gymnastics and even joined competitions. Her jazz, tap and flamenco lessons at Julie Borromeo’s Performing Arts Foundation Inc. cultivated her sensitivity and dramatic qualities. Since the school recommended classical training as a dancer’s foundation, Alindada studied ballet under Maricar Aragon-Andrada. Ballet made her realize that this was the sublime dance form.
Determined to follow her dreams, Alindada bravely competed in the Japan Grand Prix. The dance competition, the master classes by artistic directors from top schools in the Europe and the US, and the artistry and perfection of the Japanese competitors made her hunger for advance training oversees.
In 2019, her mother saw a Facebook post about a three-day dance intensive conducted by European masters at the Melbourne Academy of the Arts, one of Australia’s leading ballet schools. At the workshop, the school’s artistic director, Jasmina Stefkovski, saw Alindada’s great potential and offered her a scholarship to the training program, which began in February 2020.
Just before the global lockdown, Alindada, age 15, returned to Australia and lived with a host family. Students in the Philippines would have envied her position. Stefkovski made the arrangements with the government to allow her to continue classes while following health protocols. The students didn’t wear masks since it wasn’t conducive to strenuous training but followed physical distancing.
For 20 months, Alindada strengthened her classical technique and developed an expressive upper body. She then joined virtual dance competitions and sent audition videos to top schools around the world. At the Italian competition, Salieri Danza, she was awarded with a spot at the final round for the ENBS audition. School director Viviana Durante saw her video, a lyrical “Paquito Etoile,” and selected her out of hundreds of applicants.
Alindada was immediately accelerated to the second year of the three-year program and won a bursary of £19,000 (P1,326,953) a year. While regular students paid £19,000 for their tuition, she only paid £4,000 a year, while the rest was for her stipend.
The dancers spend six hours on technique classes and rehearsals. The only academics were related to their career, such as dance history, anatomy and music appreciation. No math and hard science subjects here.
To recover from her grueling schedule, she used a massage gun for her legs after a hard day or got a massage with the school’s physiotherapist. Alidada didn’t have any pre-show ritual except to take honey for energy.
Her years at the Senior School have been rewarding. Since the classes were multiracial, she easily blended with the other dancers. She and selected classmates danced during the launch of “The Crown” Season 5 at the Theater Drury Lane. Their dance paid homage to Princess Diana’s ballet background.
Last year, she and some schoolmates modeled for Preen by Thorton Bregazzi at London Fashion Week. Leading to graduation, she was coached by Durante, a former star of the Royal Ballet, for her solo. Alindada cites their group graduation piece, George Balanchine’s “Who Cares,” as her most challenging in stamina and style.
During her recent two-month vacation in the Philippines, Alidada underwent cross-training with Robert Osorio, a physical therapist and trainer to dancers, to recover from a shin injury.
Like most graduates in any field, the job prospects after graduation have been challenging, as most companies are still recovering from pandemic losses. Graduates of ENBS don’t necessarily land at the English National Ballet, one of the United Kingdom’s best companies. Earlier this year, Alindada and her schoolmates sent their application dance videos to several companies around Europe. She attended some live auditions in some companies, including Singapore Dance Theater.
Alindada is glad to be back in London where the energy is vibrant. Keeping her hopes high at ENBS, she wrote, “I am not sure of what my future holds, but I am very sure of Who holds my future.”