Taclobanon ballet virtuoso eyes more gold haul

(The following cover story first appeared on the March 12-18, 2018 issue of OpinYon Tacloban.)

AFTER winning the gold medal in the 2015 Concours International De Danse Classique De Grasse pre-professional category in Paris, France, seventeen-year-old Taclobanon Klievert Jon Junia Mendoza is now aiming to qualify for the final rounds of the Youth American Grand Prix 2018 in New York City.
Mendoza is set to make history as the first ever Filipino to qualify for the YAGP, founded in 1999 by Bolshoi Larissa and American Ballet Theater soloist Genaddi Saveliev.
Over nearly a decade, YAGP has not only awarded over $3,000,000.00 worth of scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools, but has also produced world famous ballet soloists like Daniel Delvisom-Oliveira of San Francisco Ballet and Czech National Ballet soloist Rebecca king, among many others.

Long Road
A long road travelled, indeed, for a young boy from Caibaan, Tacloban City who, even only in his elementary years at the Tacloban City Sto. Nino SPED Center was already an active dancer of the school’s cheering squad.
He did most of the acrobatic stunts for the group.
But Klievert’s destiny to be a world class ballet dancer was already etched at the palm of his hands.
His interest in acrobatic dancing would shift to ballet after watching a ballet competition.

Discovery Scholarly Award
After finishing elementary school, he qualified for a scholarship at the Philippine High School for the Arts at Mt. Makiling, Laguna.
His years at PSHA further strengthened his love for the arts, even as it enabled him to realize his potentials in ballet.
He worked even harder and set his goals on a global perspective.
After finishing high school at PHSA, Klievert would be the first Filipino to be granted the Discovery Scholarly Award by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Singapore.

2015 Paris dance competition
Now on his third year at NAFA’s College of Diploma in Dance, Klievert has already earned several international and national recognitions and awards in the field of ballet, including of course, his gold medal in the 2015 Paris dance competition.
In 2016, Klievert received the Award for Dance during the Leyte Provincial SKY awards.
He is also a recipient of the National Commission for Culture and Arts “Ani ng Dangal Award” and the first place winner in the first Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) National Ballet Competition.

Going up
“I didn’t come this far, to only come this far. I intend to go further. If you want to stay down, be my guest. But I am going up,” Klievert shared on Facebook.
Klievert have had his share of setbacks in his career path. He once had a knee injury and a broken toe.
But every time he fell, he always got up and worked even harder. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Because when you fall down, there’s nowhere else to go but up,” he said.

Tool in Community Development
“Bearing the Philippine flag during the YAGP final competition would truly be a great honor. However, my core motivation for joining YAGP is for it to serve as a platform to amplify my advocacies. I want the arts to gain equal attention and opportunities and utilize it as a vital tool in developing communities,” he stressed.
Every time Klievert is in Tacloban for a vacation, he splits his time with his family and the dance workshops he and LEYTEAM conduct for dance enthusiasts in Leyte. LEYTEAM is a youth organization that shares a common advocacy with Klievert.
The eldest of three children by spouses Neil Robert U. Mendoza and Dorilyn Florabel Junia, Klievert recalled with sadness in his heart the important family occasions he had missed, and the hugs and kisses of her two younger sisters because of his being away most of the time.

Undaunted
Klievert knows that separation from his loved ones is part of his life’s journey, even as he believes that his life might even be destined for a longer and lonely journey.
But he is undaunted by the challenges that lay ahead, for he believes that everything that is happening in his life has a purpose.
“Through dance, I wish to bring a fountain of hope. A hope that stakeholders will see the arts as an instrument to uplift lives” he said.
“Above all, every perspiration of mine is a push to bring the arts of Eastern Visayas, Philippines into higher heights of prominence,” he explained, adding that “This is not just an individual journey, but a journey of a surviving community.”

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