“MY goal really was just to build my own dance studio, fresh from college and after joining a lot of dance competitions,” Dr. Teresita “Teray” Ecube Portugalete, founder of the Dance School of Teray Ecube Portugalete (Dance STEP), told Panay News. “I’m surprised na, it’s been eleven years, and I’ve built a happy family as well.”

Dance STEP celebrated 11 years of excellence in motion on Friday, May 24, as its almost 300 strong students took center stage at the SM City Northwing activity center for their grand recital.

Founded by Portugalete with the support of her bestfriend Prof. Reynaldo “Rey” Madjos Susbilla Jr. in 2008, right after she graduated college at the West Visayas State University – College of Physical Education, Sports, Culture, Arts and Recreation (WVSU-PESCAR), Dance STEP has grown into one of the biggest dance studios in the region.

The recital was a culmination final performance for Dance STEP’s primed budding dancers who had already performed at Robinsons Place Iloilo and Festive Walk Mall earlier that same month.

“This is the first time for Dance STEP to have three major recitals in three large malls around the city,” shared Portugalete. “I’m proud that my students got the chance to showcase their talent at three venues, showing they have what it takes to be true performers.”

“It’s been an amazing journey seeing our students exposed onstage, outside the four walls of a studio or classroom,” said Susbilla. “With each performance I saw them build their self-confidence and develop their stage presence. Seeing our young students come out of their shell to impress us with their moves and dance with their hearts, it’s their endless enthusiasm that keeps us going.”

Portugalete and Susbilla have been dance partners since their college years, persevering though both coming from underprivileged families. The duo’s hard work and grit finally paid off during their senior year, when they won the national championship at the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges DanceSport competition in 2006, and the national State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association DanceSport title in 2007, back to back.

After college, both Portugalete and Susbilla pursued Masters in Physical Education, specializing in dance, while also beginning to establish what would eventually become Dance STEP.

“I always feel so blessed remembering we started with only around seven or eight students during our first month with Dance STEP, now we have nearly 300,” said Portugalete. “We thought we were establishing a dance studio lang, Dance STEP has become a big happy family.”

Dance STEP – built on the unwavering dedication of Portugalete and Susbilla – has produced many regional and national dance champions in its first decade of helping train and hone fledgling talents, with students that range from as young as three-years old to budding dancers in their late 20s.

Dance STEP is the only studio in Iloilo that heads to the grassroots to find young students and make lessons more accessible to them, having branches in the towns of Oton, Guimbal, Miag-ao, Tubungan, Igabaras, and San Joaquin, as well as a City Branch.

“I’m so happy that Dance STEP has become a part of a lot of people’s lives,” related Portugalete. “Some of our students have been with us for eleven years already. The fact that every summer, they keep coming back to their ‘home,’ Dance STEP, I feel so blessed.”

Dance STEP artistic directors Portugalete and Susbilla would like to thank SM City Iloilo, Casas Photography and Videography, Cream Magazine, and Panay News. The duo would also like to thank their lineup of expert instructors Elmar Jan Bolano, Glenn Daños, Rey Fernando, and Jolyn Faye Sanchez.

“Thank you also to all the parents and our students for their unwavering support, and of course thank you to our Almighty God who blessed us with all this success,” she concluded./PN


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