Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography by Amber Griffin Photography
Ballet is an elegant form of dance that requires strength, stamina and grace. It also takes determination and heart. While we generally attribute such characteristics to the poised female forms that plié and flit across the stage to orchestral accompaniment that conveys unspoken emotion, we would be remiss to overlook the importance of men in the world of ballet.
“Moving to America was a big step. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to live in the United States and pursue dance. It's like a dream come true.'
As a child growing up in the Philippines, Rench Soriano learned to be independent at an early age, taking public transportation on his own, cooking, and washing his own clothes by hand. A lover of the outdoors, he was always in search of adventure. When his parents realized that the interest he showed in dance was serious, Soriano was well on his way to his greatest adventure ever. “At the age of five, I started my first bop to Michael Jackson when my mother bought me his concert videos,” Soriano recalls. “I would study his movements and spend the whole day in my room perfecting ‘Billie Jean.’ My mother noticed that I was serious about dancing, so she took me to some local competitions in our town including our church's talent show. Later, my parents decided to enroll me at a dance studio in the city to do hip-hop. Since they offered ballet classes, I convinced my mother to let me take a few classes. At that moment, I imagined what my career would be like.”
His career would be a successful one, as the young Soriano’s talent launched him into daily training all throughout his elementary and high school years. His determination paid off and he received a scholarship to New Zealand School of Dance. It was there that the rising star truly found his footing. While attending a summer program in San Francisco, Soriano met someone who would help change his life. Offering him guidance as his teacher during the program, ballet master Ruben Martin saw Soriano’s talent and urged him to audition for The Washington Ballet Studio Company. Midway through his second year in New Zealand School of Dance, the young dancer received an email from Julie Kent officially welcoming him to TWB.
“Moving to America was a big step. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to live in the United States and pursue dance. It's like a dream come true,” Soriano says. Now that he’s here, he’s found a new home with TWB and is embracing the work, though COVID-19 has interrupted his plans. Cast as a peasant as well as to dance the Czardas and the Neapolitan Dance in Swan Lake, Soriano must wait until the production is back on the books to show what makes him such a special dancer. During this crisis, he feels more strongly than ever the need for something as beautiful as ballet. “In these times, we really need to keep the arts alive because it brings joy and togetherness to people,” he says. While we wait for a time to dance, we can show our support by donating to The Washington Ballet's Stronger Than Ever campaign.
THE WASHINGTON BALLET STRONGER THAN EVER CAMPAIGN
The Washington Ballet Jete Society is a place for young patrons to unite in their common love & interest of ballet. Together the group supports the ballet and its dancers through performances, lectures, events, and volunteer opportunities. Two membership levels are currently available, Jete Principal and Jete Corps, both include tickets to all main stage performances. For more information or to join visit www.washingtonballet.org/jete/society
The Jete Society assists in promoting The Washington Ballet's 'Stronger Than Ever Campaign' to ensure that we are able to return to the classroom, studio, and stage stronger than ever after COVID-19. To make a donation visit www.washingtonballet.org/stronger-than-ever-campaign/