[Gameplan] How ballerinas dance through pain

MANILA, Philippines – The grace of every ballerina’s hop and twirl comes from weeks of painstaking training. “We train every day for 8 hours, Tuesday to Saturday. That's a regular week for us. Because of our work, we're actually very prone to injuries. We know that we can be hurt anytime,” says Denise Parungao.

Some people consider pain as a badge of honor, but for Denise, it is an enemy that has to be defeated. “We have high pain tolerance so we're actually not bothered by the pain. We're bothered by the things we cannot do because of the pain. You can’t dance less than your hundred percent so when you’re in pain, you have to do something about it,” she said.

Ballet Philippines is one of the longest-standing and most established dance companies in the country. Being its principal dancer requires rigorous training that can take a toll on one’s body.

“I've done shows with stress fractures. I had a growing bone tearing up a tissue and I can't do anything. I can't bend, I can't plié, I can't point. And that's very frustrating. I can't dance,” she said.

Aside from doing pilates and taking pain killers, Denise believes it’s more important to be mentally positive and to know that the injury won’t last forever. “I took a long break from ballet because of injury and every day, I need to tell myself, ‘It's okay. You're going to heal.’ Just remember how much you love to dance and why you started doing it.”

After months of rehabilitation, Denise finds a newfound spring in her step as she bounces back in Ballet Philippines’ Gala Celebration on August 18-20 at the CCP Main Theater.

“The CCP Main Theater is my home. When you're lost in the moment, if you're that character, you just let go because when we're performing, we have this adrenaline. No matter how tired, no matter how sore, you just keep on going. Every single day we work hard to be on that moment onstage. That break made me realize that I love dancing so much that I want to get back better,” she said. – Rappler.com