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Kayleen Ortiz

Kayleen Ortiz

Meet dancer from the Philippines, Kayleen Ortiz.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Kayleen Ortiz, a Movement Artist, Fitness Creative and Pole Champion. I own an aerial studio in Manila — Polecats Manila. I teach and tour in countries all over Asia.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Metro Manila. The people are warm, and so is the weather.

 

I live in Metro Manila. The people are warm, and so is the weather.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing is that it is home. People are generally friendly. It’s not hard to find a smiling face. Food is great too. The worst thing about it is the traffic. It gets really bad.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Unconventional
Daring
Exciting

 

How did you start your career in art?

Prior to Polecats, I did not have any formal dance training. I was a competitive varsity debater in University. It had nothing to do with movement whatsoever. I literally started when Polecats was born. Exploring what styles I liked, what kind of movement I can relate to, and what my body was comfortable doing. As unconventional as it sounds, pole was my first dance class ever. I eventually moved into other aerial arts like silks and hoop. It was mostly exploration at first. I’d play a song and just dance and move. I learned that of all of them, silks is my favorite. There’s just something about being up in the air that feels right. It feels freeing. After some time, I took dance classes, workshops, and short courses on dance and aerial, and learned from different teachers of movement. Now I’m here. 🙂

 

As unconventional as it sounds, pole was my first dance class ever. I eventually moved into other aerial arts like silks and hoop.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Yes generally supportive. Skeptical at first, but generally positive. My mom took the longest time to come around. In her experience it was completely unheard of, studying 5 years in university only to become a pole dancer. But I guess if you do what you love, it shows. She came to all my recitals and shows. I am grateful for all the support I get from the people around me.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I would love to tour my movement work. To perform abroad not for competition or teaching, but for art. Like a showcase in an art festival, or a gala. Also, I’d love to do more collaborations with movement artists here and abroad.

 

I would love to tour my movement work. To perform abroad not for competition or teaching, but for art.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Marlo Fisken

 

How would you describe the women around you?

There is a stark contrast with the woman in my family, and the women I work with. I grew up in a very conservative Christian family. The prim and proper kind. I was always told to behave a certain way, to dress appropriately, to obediently follow, to be respectful of rules, to work hard and never complain. It helped in cultivating discipline. I credit my attitude towards work to how I was brought up.

 

But it was outside of the family where I learned that the world is not as small as I thought it was. The women I meet everyday are daring, are brave, are not afraid to offend or be radical in their views of the world. I learned that in order to live a full life, you must embrace who you are. Do the things you want to do. I discovered that experience is your best teacher and that it is never too late to discover who you really are, and what you are called to do.

 

The women I meet everyday are daring, are brave, are not afraid to offend or be radical in their views of the world. I learned that in order to live a full life, you must embrace who you are. Do the things you want to do.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

As a kid, I looked up to Lea Salonga. She is a singer from the Philippines that made it big internationally. She was also the singing voice of Jasmine and Mulan, which was super big for me as a child. Not many Filipinos break that ceiling. I remember watching her on TV when I was young and think to myself “What a brave dreamer this girl is.”

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

I live in a conservative Catholic country. Women face objectification all the time. It’s a challenge not only here but all over the world. In the Philippines women are still expected to get married, have kids and retire as mothers. That’s how your worth is measured on a societal level. The tides are slowly changing, but we need to keep fighting and showing people that your life is your choice. That being an artist is just as honorable a life choice as being a mother.

 

You have power that goes beyond what you can imagine.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

If you can dream it you can do it. You have power that goes beyond what you can imagine. Follow your heart for it knows where to go. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes along the way. Dare to experiment, to fail, to try again. Most importantly, never give up. That dream is in your heart for a reason. Nurture it. Follow it. Fight for it.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Kayleen Ortiz.

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