Madelle is a familiar face especially to those who love Zumba. She makes dancing for fitness fun and accessible, inspiring millions of people around the world to move through their YouTube channel LiveLoveParty.tv. Madelle talks about what dance means to her and how she found a positive and uplifting community in MC – one that developed her talents and equipped her with the values that help make her the confident entrepreneur, wife, mother and leader she is today.
How did your passion for dance begin?
I’ve been dancing since my college days in Miriam. Surprisingly, my high school was all about theater acting as I was part of Banaag, MCHS’ theater group. I initially went to a different school for college, but later went back to Miriam where I fell in love with dance. I started through Company of One, MC’s official dance group. It was also the time when I was discovered by the Filipino hip-hop dance group, the Philippine All Stars. As a college student, I would already tour the world with them for performances and competitions. But because studying was a priority, I couldn’t stay overseas very long. Finishing my studies was my parents’ condition. Even though I had the opportunity to professionalize my craft, dahil masunurin ako sa magulang, I stayed in school as an irregular student. Even though it took a while, I’m glad I followed their advice!
I’m happy that Miriam allowed me to study and dance professionally at the same. And because my parents are quite conservative, I also had to set some boundaries. I would always say things like, “This is the shortest I can go with my shorts!”– even to the style of dancing! It was really the about highlighting dance as an art and my values as a dance artist well.
I haven’t stopped dancing since! I started BP Dance Studio when I was 19, and our YouTube channel launched its first video in 2014. Today, we continue to use dance to connect people from all walks of life, no matter the distance.
What does dance mean to you?
Dance is an art and my form of self-expression. It’s entertainment yes – but first and foremost I use dance to serve the people around me, and to inspire the next generation of dancers following the same path as I am. Until now, because those are the values that are put in place when I was training in MC with Company of One, I carried them with me as a professional dancer, and now as a mother of five. I’m 37 and still dancing! Although not professionally as a dance artist, I think the artist within me will never go away. Today, it’s really all about making the world move. Instead of me just performing in front of people, my personal vision and mission is to make the world dance.
The beauty about dance is that you can do it in every season of your life. Whether you’re newly married, starting a family, pregnant, a mom with a newborn, or raising toddlers, you can dance. Dance is meant to be shared. Dance is something you do with people you love. One of the reasons why I embraced Zumba is because I can do it with my family – my mom, my sister-in-law, my husband – we are a family of people who love to dance, kaya masaya. Dance was something I needed. I have five kids, I’ve been pregnant every two years for the past ten years, so I needed that kind of energy to sustain me. It was dance, Zumba and movement that allowed me to stay in shape so I can reach my dreams and achieve my goals for my family.
What is your driving force? What keeps you going?
Ultimately, it’s my family. But first and foremost I feel blessed to know what my purpose is early, during my teenage years. It’s something that I carry through the ups and downs of life. Purpose has kept me going and it’s passion that fuels that. They are two things I cannot live without. A lot of people think that they have to put their passion aside when major life changes happen, but once you discover it, you really have to nurture it and let it grow. Passion also takes strategy. It can’t be all about passion and emotion. The perfect equation would be knowing what your purpose is, letting your passion fuel you and then strategizing! Pursuing your purpose is not a sprint but a marathon – so how are you going to sustain it? Aside from strategy you also have to build. When you face a roadblock, you should be find ways or build new roads to make it work. Personally, I thrive on repetition and having a routine. It’s about discovering the small systems or strategies that work for me and then I share it and scale it.
And failure is part of the process. I had my fair share of failures, especially when I fell into wrong crowd before going back to Miriam for college. But rather than allowing it to hold me back, I learned to embrace it. I don’t regret anything when I fail. Rather, my regret comes from not trying or saying yes to a possible opportunity. It’s about knowing when to say yes or no. When it’s the latter, I would ask myself, “Why am I saying no? Is it out of fear? Or Is it getting in the way of what I really want for yourself?” Wag magpapa-abuso. That’s a hard lesson I learned BUT it’s okay. That’s what makes me ME, and that’s what brought me here too.
In what ways did your Maryknoll/Miriam education impact your life and profession?
My Miriam education impacted my life in EVERY way. After graduating from Miriam High School, I initially went to a co-ed university where I unfortunately found myself surrounded by the wrong crowd. I was exposed to vices and I wasn’t taking my education seriously. It simply didn’t work out. It was something that I didn’t want for myself anymore. I wanted to go back to the time when Madelle was at her best. I asked myself, what place brought out the best in me? It was in Miriam. Just like my experience in high school, I knew that MC could set the boundaries, instill the values and provide the supportive community I need so I could stay on the path I wanted to take.
Today, I pass on these values to my children. Since the pandemic allowed us to spend more time together as a family, it’s our opportunity as parents to teach and model these values. So that when the world opens up again, they’ll be ready.
Can you share a memorable experience during your years in Maryknoll/Miriam College?
I will never forget my HS teacher and Banaag moderator, Mr. Margarito Fernandez. He was strict but I felt that he always had a soft spot for me. I consider him a mentor – and a mentor for me has the ability to lay down the ground rules but at the same time challenge you and allow you grow. Mr. Fernandez did that for me in high school. Years later, I’m glad my daughter was able to meet in him in grade school – that was a full circle moment for me. I admire the amount of time and energy MC teachers invest in their students. It’s all part of that supportive community that I admire so much about Miriam College.
I’m all for extra-curricular activities. I love that I had Banaag and Company of One. They were my world. The academics are important of course, but I had the most fun with my MC clubs. I don’t think I would have my acting, communication, and dance skills if it weren’t for those clubs. In Miriam my skills were honed and my talents were developed, and that meant a lot to me. Today, my husband and I make sure that we also invest in our children’s interests in movement and the arts.
What career or life accomplishment makes you most proud?
When I see that the people I have taught and mentored succeed, that counts as success for me. Another thing that makes me feel successful is having my family. Being able to have five kids, a husband, and of course dancing at the same time - that’s such a miracle for me. Reaching out to others with what we do and still keep a family – it’s something quite extraordinary. But this didn’t come easily. It was about building slowly and having the right foundations for each area of my life. They helped me overcome the challenges and weather the storms that came my way.
You are a teacher in many ways – when you deliver your dance classes, when you share your life lessons, as a parent to your children. Was teaching something you’ve always wanted to do?
I think it was about having the communication skills and finding out what that message was. More often than not, it’s hard to find that message of what you are about. Finding yourself and defining what you stand for is difficult, but not impossible. It’s possible for everybody. It’s just a matter of timing and wanting to find it. I never really expected to be a teacher. I think the message came first and then the teaching followed. That’s when I realized I needed to step up. So what I’ve done with my life is really about stepping up to do what I needed to do. There was a time when I needed to act, there was a time when I needed to be a mom, there was a time when I needed to talk in front of people. I didn’t know how to do it, but I just said to myself, “Okay, let me try my best!”
What advice would you give our students who wish to pursue the same path?
First, it’s not going to be easy. It takes a lot of hard work, but if you’re surrounded with the right community, if you’re surrounded with mentors who will push you and believe in you then it’s going to be easy. It’s about being with the right people in putting yourself in an environment where you can grow – one that is full of encouragement and not judgment when you fail. I consider myself a person who wants to learn. I obey and trust my parents, my leaders – because I believe that they want what’s best for me. They are there to give their 100% because they have my best interests in mind.
Second, communication is important, even when the conversation gets hard or when you have opposing views. It’s good to talk to people with different perspectives to keep you grounded. It adds to your learning and teaches you to respect different beliefs.
Third, never stop talking about your dreams – what you want to do, what you want to achieve, even when you find yourself in a situation when the odds are against you. Proclaim it, talk about it. Be it.
Lastly, don’t stop training, practicing, and developing yourself.
In one sentence, how would you describe a Maryknoll/Miriam graduate?
An MC graduate values community. I still keep in touch with my friends from high school, and now they are leaders in their respective communities. This is because MC provided the right foundations and taught us how a community should be. Because we grew up exposed to that, nadala namin siya sa labas.
With Live Love Party, we visit homes for abused women, and we become their Zumba instructor. That’s one of the advocacies of the group – women – especially those who have gone through traumatic experiences. Dance can get you out of a place of trauma or depression, and it doesn’t discriminate on social status. Dance is for everybody – so we have made it part of our mission to reach those who also need it but don’t have the means to do so.
When you’re an MC graduate, you move! And you don’t just move yourself but you move the people around you. That’s what being a community leader and builder is all about. It’s about making people move – and that’s what I’m doing now, and what I will be doing for the rest of my life.